More developments in the GMO label debate
As of February 2014, food production companies aren’t required to label products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). However, organic farmers and consumers alike have been asking for change. A new coalition of producers has called on the Food and Drug Administration for help on the issue. As a student of an online cooking school, you may want to know if GMOs are in your ingredients.
Getting it labeled
According to Reuters, a group comprised of a few U.S. lawmakers, organic farming groups, health and environmental organizations, and food companies asked President Barak Obama to require that all food products containing GMOs be labeled. On Jan.16, the group sent the president a letter to remind him of a campaign pledge he made in Iowa in 2007, promising to work on a label system.
“We believe there should be a mandatory national labeling system. FDA has a duty to act when the absence of labeling would leave consumers confused about the foods they buy,” the letter read.
It was signed by a number of notable companies, including Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Stony Field yogurts. Advocates widely agree with the statements made in the letter, arguing that consumers have the right to know what goes into their food.
Optional labeling system
Reuters also noted that more than 20 states are considering legislation that would mandate the labeling of GMO foods, though none have yet passed. Food companies that use GMOs have felt the pressure and so announced the creation of the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food on Feb. 5. The group would like the FDA to conduct a safety review on GMO products as a consumer guide to the health of the crops. Next, they’d like the federal government to create legislation that would prevent states and local governments from passing a labeling requirement. The coalition would instead prefer that a voluntary labeling system be put in place.
“Foods made with genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) are safe and have a number of important benefits for people and our planet,” Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said in a statement. “Our nation’s food safety and labeling laws should not be set by political campaigns or state and local legislatures, but by the FDA, the nation’s foremost food safety agency.”
Opponents of the proposed system argue that voluntary labeling isn’t any different than the confusion seen now. Consumers still won’t know if the food they’re buying contains GMOs or not, and for some, a safety evaluation won’t ease their mind.