Despite Opposition from the Scientific Community, Efforts to Label GMOs Continue

The editors of Scientific American™ have notably compiled several firm arguments to counter support for labeling of foods made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  In their recent editorial titled, Label for GMO Foods Are a Bad Idea, Scientific American™ has successfully demonstrated how GMO labeling limits consumer choice, how foods containing GM ingredients can provide consumers with vital nutrients and how GMOs can be less costly to their conventional counterparts.  Here is a sample of the editors’ position on mandatory GMO labeling:

“Instead of providing people with useful information, mandatory GMO labels would only intensify the misconception that so-called Frankenfoods endanger people’s health [see “The Truth about Genetically Modified Food”]. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Health Organization and the exceptionally vigilant European Union agree that GMOs are just as safe as other foods. Compared with conventional breeding techniques—which swap giant chunks of DNA between one plant and another—genetic engineering is far more precise and, in most cases, is less likely to produce an unexpected result. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has tested all the GMOs on the market to determine whether they are toxic or allergenic. They are not. (The GMO-fearing can seek out “100 Percent Organic” products, indicating that a food contains no genetically modified ingredients, among other requirements.)”

With GMO-labeling legislation pending in at least 20 states, supporters have argued that consumers prefer foods containing GM ingredients be labeled, increasing their access to choice. However, the editorial illustrates how this claim has already backfired in such countries as Europe:

“In 1997, a time of growing opposition to GMOs in Europe, the E.U. began to require them. By 1999, to avoid labels that might drive customers away, most major European retailers had removed genetically modified ingredients from products bearing their brand. Major food producers such as Nestlé followed suit. Today it is virtually impossible to find GMOs in European supermarkets.”

Additionally, the editorial references the recent destruction of the Golden Rice field trials which have shown to generate safe GMO crops that provide children with vital nutrients that they would not otherwise have access.  The Golden Rice Trials are just one of multiple noteworthy examples that the editorial presents on the health benefits of GMOs:

“To curb vitamin A deficiency—which blinds as many as 500,000 children worldwide every year and kills half of them—researchers have engineered Golden Rice, which produces beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Approximately three quarters of a cup of Golden Rice provides the recommended daily amount of vitamin A; several tests have concluded that the product is safe. Yet Greenpeace and other anti-GMO organizations have used misinformation and hysteria to delay the introduction of Golden Rice to the Philippines, India and China.”

“More such products are in the works, but only with public support and funding will they make their way to people’s plates. An international team of researchers has engineered a variety of cassava—a staple food for 600 million people—with 30 times the usual amount of beta-carotene and four times as much iron, as well as higher levels of protein and zinc. Another group of scientists has created corn with 169-fold the typical amount of beta-carotene, six times as much vitamin C and double the folate.”

Scientific American™ effectively provides science-based stances on why labels for GMOs are a bad idea.  The link noted above will provide you access to the entire article.

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