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Labeling Genetically Engineered Food

By Dustin1 Mar 26, 2006 338 Words
Genetically engineered food is all around us but how do we know what food is or isn't genetically engineered? The Grocery Manufactures of America estimates that over 70% of all processed food products in grocery stores contains genetically engineered ingredients, such as Kellogg Corn Flakes, Gardenburgers, and Heinz 2 Baby Food(FDA 2). An even more shocking fact is that over 60% percent of people believe that they have never eaten genetically engineered food. Genetically engineered food should be labeled so that consumers know what they are eating. The first order of business in considering a labeling strategy to define exactly what is to be labeled. In the US and some other nations, labeling is "product-based" that is, only if there is a detectable nutritional difference in the product, such as increased allergenicity, increased/decreased nutrient levels, increased toxicity, etc. Some other nations are considering systems that are "process-based" labeling merely because something is genetically engineered, regardless of actual differences in nutrition or heath risk. The next subject you must consider when labeling genetically engineered foods is what the label might say. There are two plans in progress for what a label might say affirmative and negative labels. Affirmative labels are meant to indicate the presence (or possible presence) of a food or food ingredient made from a genetically engineered organism( Geo-pie 1-2 ). The phrase "may contain" is probably a more accurate form of affirmative labeling than "does contain." Because the mixture of genetically engineered and non- genetically engineered plant products arriving at food processors' doors will change from truckload to truckload, processors would find it difficult to adjust food labels to state exact percentages of genetically engineered ingredients every time the mixture changed. Negative labeling is statements that indicate the absence of ingredients derived from GE organisms(Geo-pie 3-4). This form of labeling is already being used on some products in the US, particularly on products marketed as "organic," and includes statements like "made without GMOs" or "GMO free."

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