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If the technology is safe enough why should labeling be shied away?

Submitted by: Ravichandran Vanchinathan


Expert response from Carol Keiser

President, C-BAR Cattle Company, Inc. and Board Member, Truth About Trade & Technology

Monday, 09/12/2013 18:12

We understand this point of view, but here’s the issue. Labels are intended to clarify not confuse. Yes, in the case of GMOs, they have the potential to be very misleading. I’ve examined this topic and developed a post that may be of interest on the Truth About Trade & Technology blog, available here:


Below is an excerpt which addresses your question:


“The purpose of a food label is to help consumers make smart decisions about what to buy and eat. But what if these labels confused people instead of informed them? Or worse yet, what if labels actually misled consumers?




The dangers of deceptive labeling aren’t a speculative assertion, but rather the main point of a recent paper by Juanjuan Zhang, a marketing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ‘Mandatory disclosure of GMOs in food products lowers consumers’ perceived GMO safety,’ she writes in ‘Policy and Inference: The Case of Product Labeling.’


Zhang’s research reveals that the mere act of labeling food that contains GMOs is deceptive. It causes consumers to suspect that GMOs are dangerous, even though the safety of biotech food is beyond reasonable doubt, as organizations ranging from the American Medical Association to the World Health Organization have determined.




Supporters of the “just label it” movement like to talk about “the right to know.” Yet Zhang’s scholarship shows that consumer behavior is more complicated than a political slogan. Labels possess the power to mislead. That means our lawmakers must mandate them sparingly, and not just because a few special interest groups want the federal government to help them obtain a competitive advantage in the food market.”


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