The Real Deal on Gmo Labeling

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The Real Deal on GM Food Labeling
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began food labeling in the United States in 1938. It was an initial effort to protect public health through the transparency in food ingredients and their nutritional value. Today, with the emergence of genetically modified organisms (GMO) as food, another issue regarding labeling to champion consumer choice between GM and non-GM foods has been raised. But experiences of countries that adopted mandatory GMO labeling proved that it doesn’t provide the consumer with a wider array of choice. This brings us to the more compelling issues on nutrition and food safety that will affect the research and commercialization of other GM foods in the future. Countries in the European Union (EU), Japan, Australia and New Zealand have adapted mandatory GMO labeling. But after the 90’s GM products seemed to have vanished in the EU. It was also difficult to find GMO labeling in products in Japan while in Australia and New Zealand, there is not much choice at the retail level. What happened is that producers changed the formulation of their products in order to avoid GM foods thus, labeling provides processors’ choice— not necessarily consumer choice. Also, under mandatory labeling, the costs of segregation and testing will be paid partly by taxpayers and partly by GM producers and so, experimental studies have shown that consumers perceive GM labels as a negative signal, and therefore there will be lower expected market share of GM foods. If GMO labeling doesn’t serve its purpose, is there a need for it? Practically speaking, there is none since even before the concern is raised, a lot of GM foods, including those used as ingredients, have already proliferated the market. According to the FDA, there are over 40 plant varieties that have completed all of the federal requirements for commercialization. North American production of corn, soybeans and canola is now more than...
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