Should GMOs be Labeled?

By: Victoria Brochu, Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living, Fall 2012

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is defined by the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety as any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology. Basically, this is a food that has been genetically altered in some way in a lab. The problem with this is that most of the food we eat today contain these GMO ingredients, and these foods are not labeled in any way to inform us that it contains GMOs. It is wrong to keep consumers in the dark about what they are putting into their bodies. These products need to be regulated by the government and labeled.
Proposition 37 is a bill that requires labeling of food sold to consumers made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in certain ways. This bill should pass because labeling is needed in today’s market. There are a lot of harmful issues that arise from consuming GMOs. One serious health issue surrounding GMOs concerns food allergies. According to an article on the Huffington Post, since gene splicing allows a gene from any organism to be put in another, the opportunity for new combinations of genes to trigger allergic reactions exists. This new biotechnology used to produce GMOs is still new and not fully tested, so many of the harmful effects are still unknown and haven’t been studied.
According to a study observed by Jill J. McCluskey and Maria L. Loureiro, it was concluded that consumers would like to know what is in their food, and many are willing to spend the extra money on these higher quality and safer products that are labeled with the appropriate information. However, some companies are opposed to putting labels on their products. Their reasoning is that it may put an “unnecessary” fear in the consumer’s head that their product is potentially bad for them. In turn, it may prevent consumers from purchasing their products; resulting in the loss of sales for the company.

Works cited:

McCluskey, Jill, and Maria Loureiro. “Consumer Preferences and Willingness to Pay for Food Labeling: A Discussion of Empirical Studies.” Journal of Food Distribution Research. 34.3 (2003): n. page. Web. 19 Nov. 2012.             <http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/27051/1/34030095.pdf>.

Robbins, Ocean. “What’s Next In the GMO Battle?”. Huffington Post. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/whats-next-in-the-gmo-bat_b_2130129.html>.

“Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.” Convention of Biological Diversity. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 12 2011. Web. 19 Nov 2012. <http://bch.cbd.int/protocol/>.

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