Although science has not determined food with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are dangerous, or even unhealthy, some folks are squeamish about consuming those foods.
Those concerns are, to a point, understandable. But what’s not reasonable is mandating GMO labeling at the state level, as was proposed in a ballot measure last fall. The proposal, Initiative 522, was wisely defeated by voters.
We urged Washington state voters to reject I-522 because we believed (and still do) GMO product labeling should be driven by the marketplace. Those selling products without GMOs should label them as such to attract the crowd’s skeptical about GMOs. If sales boomed, the practice would grow and, perhaps, the GMO market would shrink.
Government involvement, particularly at the state level, is unnecessary.
Nevertheless, those in the food industry are concerned that the labeling effort in Washington, which was also attempted in California, will keep coming up across the nation.
So, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the food industry’s main trade group, has joined forces with 28 farm and food industry groups to lobby for legislation that would mandate the Food and Drug Administration to create a voluntary GMO label that would supersede state laws. In addition, the group is pushing for the FDA to do a safety review of new genetically engineered ingredients before they are included in food. To this point, the FDA hasn’t found safety issues with modified ingredients.
This appears to be a sound approach that will serve consumers and the food industry well.
It establishes a clear labeling system that shouldn’t be tainted by a political agenda. It also, and perhaps more importantly, eliminates a potential patchwork of state laws that would drive up food distribution costs and be confusing for consumers.
The practice of manipulating the genetics of apples, grapes, wheat and other crops has been going on for a very long time. These genetic changes aren’t going to be reversed because they have been a success.
Genetic-altering methods have made crops less expensive to grow, resistant to diseases and more nutritious.
Products with GMOs are not going away. Providing a way to label products so those who eschew GMOs can avoid them serves the best interests of all.