Labeling is a popular topic on GMO Answers, and experts have provided multiple perspectives on the GMO labeling debate in response to similar questions. Below are some excerpts to a few that might interest you.
In this response, excerpted below, Neal Van Alfen, Professor at UC Davis, discusses the importance of maintaining a reliable and consistent regulatory system:
This seems to be a fair and reasonable request to know how our food was created. Food is already labeled with its ingredients when it has been processed, and warnings are sometimes included on labels. So, why not let the consumer know if any of the components of the food were GMOs? The reason food is not labeled as containing GMOs is that mandatory food labeling is only used to provide information that may be important for consumers to make food choices regarding ingredients known to affect their health. After many studies and years of experience with consumption of GMOs there is no credible evidence that there is a health risk associated with eating GMOs……
Is it then fair and reasonable to require mandatory labeling to warn consumers that food contains GMOs when this labeling system is only used when health risk choices must be made by consumers? Without evidence that GMOs are a health risk we should not compromise the integrity or credibility of our food labeling system by requiring a warning when there is no credible scientific evidence for adverse health effects being associated with the consumption of GMOs.
Foods can be and are labeled to help consumers make choices, but such labeling is voluntary. Common examples are kosher and halal labels that help consumers select or avoid foods based on their belief systems.
David B. Schmidt, President and CEO of the International Food Information Council (IFIC) & Foundation, provided additional thoughts in this answer, excerpted below:
While I can’t speak for the biotech industry, there is an important principle at stake in many of these ballot measures. Activists and elements of the organic and natural food industries are spending millions of dollars to stigmatize conventional and biotech foods in order to promote their niche products that are generally sold to consumers at a higher price. In essence, they are creating fear with unproven, outlandish allegations in order to get unsuspecting consumers to avoid affordable, safe and wholesome foods, in hopes that they can sell you their niche product at a higher price and profit for them. If regulators allowed this to happen with biotechnology, there could be no end to the types of safe food and agriculture technologies that could be unfairly banned or stigmatized by false accusations and innuendo rather than scientific consensus. The success of American commerce, admired around the world, is a level playing field based on facts and fairness, and our regulators help ensure that remains constant.
With another perspective on the labeling debate, John Rigolizzo, a fifth-generation farmer and Board Member of Truth About Trade & Technology, discusses how labeling GMOs would raise the cost of food for families and undermine farmers’ efforts to feed a growing population in this answer, excerpted below.
Labels won’t help consumers make better decisions, but they’ll increase the cost of food because the labels aren’t free. They represent a significant new regulation on farmers and food companies. The added expense of compliance will be passed along to consumers. We’ll all pay more for what we eat at grocery stores and restaurants.
At a time when the U.S. economy is at best sputtering along in New Jersey and elsewhere, we shouldn’t pass pointless laws that make it harder for families to feed themselves.
It would be bad enough if the negative impacts of excessive labeling with information of no use to human health or safety were to stop there. Yet they’ll extract an even higher toll as they call into question the very purpose of GM technology. Consumers may begin to wonder why this food needs labels in the first place—and they may start to avoid it.
That would be a tragedy. Biotechnology lets us grow more food on less land. That’s why I grow GM crops on my farm, not far from where Assemblywoman DeCroce cast her wrongheaded vote in favor of an unnecessary labeling law.
As we struggle to feed our families in tough times—and try to find ways to feed a growing global population—we need to appreciate food grown with the benefit of biotechnology as part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
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