Should Genetically Modified Foods Have Labels?

The state of California is leaving it up to its voters to decide if packaged foods containing genetically engineered ingredients, should come with a label.

Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell


What’s the Latest Development?

Reportedly 80 percent of packaged foods in the United States contain genetically engineered ingredients; however, they are not easy to identify since food producers are not legally required to add the information to their product labels. In November, Proposition 37which is a California law allowing consumers the right to know what is in products on the marketwill go to the ballots for voters to decide. If the law is passed, then packaged foods in Californiawith the exception of alcohol, meat, poultry and dairywill have to be accompanied by special labels. Industry analysts believe this could put farmers, food companies and grocers at a competitive disadvantage, and they would “have to spend cash to ensure that they keep entirely separate facilities for GE and non-GE crops.” Although according to the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), the bigger issue is the "proximity of GE crops to specialty crops in the state." This law has not been duplicated in any other states. Based on reports, both Vermont and Connecticut were set to pass a similar law, but they each “pulled back because of fear of legal reprisal and legal bills from the biotech industry.”

What’s the Big Idea? 

Industry experts believe California’s Proposition 37 that could require food producers to tack GE labels onto their products is extreme and insensible. They believe it will hurt family farmers, food companies and grocers in California. "Other countries have GE labeling requirements, but only require labeling for products that contain small percentages of GE ingredients ( .9% to 5%)." Dairy, meat, poultry and alcohol will be exempt from donning special labeling.

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