Should There Be a Law Mandating GMO-labeling?

The Connecticut-based news website the Hartford Courant recently published an op-ed regarding the status of Connecticut’s law mandating the labeling of GMO foods. The article condemns the idea of legally mandating GMO labels on foods, essentially arguing that that law is not only needless, but that there is a lack of evidence that GMO foods do any harm to consumers’ health and that laws such as these support what the author calls, “scientific ignorance.” The author cites a 2012 American Medical Association study, which found that bioengineered foods were not dangerous because they had been consumed for close to 20 years with no adverse affects reported. The author furthers his argument by going on to equate fear of genetically modified foods with “the anti-vacination mania, fear of fluridation and the widespread (yet incorrect) belief that climate change is a hoax.”

While the author makes some interesting points, he is pretending the situation regarding whether we should or shouldn’t create laws mandating the labeling of genetically modified foods is simpler than it actually is. As one Frosted Food Blog writer has already stated in a blog post, there actually is a great deal of scientific controversy surrounding the safety of many of Monsanto’s products such as Aspertame – who’s to say that some of their other genetically modified products aren’t just as dangerous? Genetically modified foods cannot be equated with other movements of “scientific ignorance,” as the author refers to them, because the scientific research does not yet actually lean one way or the other regarding GMO’s – they haven’t been around long enough for us to truly know their effects.

Finally, if nothing else, our democracy is meant to represent our people and give them a voice. According to the Consumer Reports National Research Center somewhere around 92% of people are in favor of labeling foods containing GMO’s – the majority has spoken and it is overwhelming. Ultimately, it is the government’s job to respect those wishes of the people, no matter what big corporations like Monsanto tell them.

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3 thoughts on “Should There Be a Law Mandating GMO-labeling?

  1. This blog post is kind of scary. It is pretty crazy that people think climate change is a hoax, especially after all we learned about it. At the same time, it makes me wonder what credentials this author has. Are they ignorant? Did they read the 2012 study wrong? Hopefully not too many people took this author’s ideas seriously because that would not help the GMO issue at all. I don’t know if GMO’s are dangerous or not. To say that nothing has happened in the last 20 years due to GMO use is hard to conclude though. Where would scientists begin with something like this? How do we know that GMO use combined with some other condition is not dangerous? People do not know whether GMO’s are single handily dangerous or if it is a combination of things and scientists have not figured out a way to test any of this out. I think GMO products should be labeled. Most people are curious to what is in their food and some might give their purchases a second thought if they see that it contains such products.

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    1. I agree with you about the author’s credentials. Reading his article really made me reflect on my own tendency to see the issue of Monsanto and GMOs as very black-and-white, when there are actually many nuances to the issue. Furthermore, I think that ultimately, while we don’t know much about GMOs, many Americans have shown multiple times through surveying and polling that they are cautious – meaning GMO products should probably be labeled.

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  2. I’m not really sure where I stand on GMO labeling, and I think you make some compelling points, but I would like to debate a few of the issues you raise. First, I don’t think its valid to claim that Monsanto GMO’s might be bad for you just because another Monsanto product–aspertame–is. I believe aspartame is not technically a GMO, but rather a synthetic product, and therefore the argument you are making is like saying that all Hemingway books are probably awful because you didn’t like “The Old Man in the Sea.” Second, you claim that GMO’s have not been around long enough for us to know their true effects, but we have been genetically engineering our food through selective breeding for millennium, and GMO science is just a laboratory version of selective breeding. Furthermore, as this Huffington Post article asserts http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/thanks-gwyneth-but-well-stick-with-the-scientists-on-this-issue_55c23d5ee4b0f7f0bebb34a4, the vast majority of scientists say that there is no scientific basis for the idea that GMO’s are even potentially harmful. So in many ways, the issue regarding GMO’s is very similar to that regarding vaccines, because the rejection of GMO’s is not based on scientific fact, but rather on the visceral belief that something unnatural is possibly harmful. On top of which, GMO’s give us the ability to produce huge amounts of food with less pesticide (because they are modified to withstand certain diseases and pests) and feed more people in a scientifically healthier way. Third, the idea that everyone has a right to see what their food is made from seems valid, however there is also validity to the argument that labeling products as containing GMO’s would unfairly stigmatize a process of producing food that is both beneficial to society and is not actually harmful according to known fact. Finally, it is not the job of the government to represent the voice of the people if their voice does not accord with legal or constitutional standards, and I don’t know the law involved, but there is probably some law that protects companies from having to label safe products in a way that creates a perception that there is somehow something unsafe about their product just because the public assumes this to be the case. Labeling a product with a “GMO” sticker gives that perception–it makes the product appear somehow second-rate or dangerous when it is not proven to be so.

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