GMO Food Should Have Labels

GMO Food Should Have Labels.

GMO Food Should Have Labels

One risk that has been facing human health without their consent is the sale of food products which have already been contaminated with genetically modified organisms. This is happening in spite of the progressive debate that has been going on across the globe concerning legalization of genetically modified organisms(GMO) since it was introduced in 1996 (Costanigro & Lusk, 2014). GMOs are produced when the genetic material of a particular species have been changed with a goal of improving the appearance of certain good traits (Costanigro & Lusk, 2014). Although proponents of this technology claim that they aim at increasing productivity and nutrition in modern food, there are no health benefits associated with this practices but are rather done for economic benefits (Costanigro & Lusk, 2014). As genetic engineering of organisms continues to gain roots in the current century, farmlands and groceries have not been an exception whereby the traditional stable food are now at risk of being eliminated as a source of nutrition. Considering the contradictory concern about whether GMOs are safe for human consumption, there should be different with naturally grown food and those whose genes have been engineered. Therefore, this paper discusses why GMO food should be properly labeled.

First, forcing consumers to buy products whose ingredients are not properly labeled denies them their right of choice. Statistics presented by Grocery Manufacturers Association in 2011 showed that more that 80% of all the American farm products including corn, sugar beets, and canola oil are genetically engineered (Costanigro & Lusk, 2014). The majority of these products are already being supplied to groceries and supermarkets as processed food for commercial sale. Unfortunately, consumers do not have any background information on whether the basic ingredients of these products have been genetically engineered and as a result, consume them unknowingly. In 2003, ABC News conducted a survey which showed that more than 80% of the American citizens would prefer GMO food to be labeled (Costanigro & Lusk, 2014). This happens despite pending claims by numerous researchers that genetically modified foods have health related risks to the consumers. They argue that even the proponents do not have sufficient evidence to deny or explain these risks and so more research needs to be conducted before allowing these productions in the market. No one is perfectly confident that genetically modified organisms will not pose health risks in the coming future yet the available evidence only predicts their safety as per the time of consumption (Costanigro & Lusk, 2014). It is, therefore, fair that foodstuffs containing genetically engineered ingredients are properly labeled so that consumers can have the freedom to choose whether to take them or not.

In addition, failing to label these products may mislead the government authorities as they conduct health and risk assessment. This is because these legal bodies rely on the data availed by the same companies they are intending to approve of their products (Costanigro & Lusk, 2014). On the other hand, the general public relies on these authoritative bodies to assure them the safety of a particular product. Therefore, if the manufacturers do not indicate that the products have been engineered, the government will equally approve that such products are safe and this will most likely put the health of the general public at risk. Since the genetically modified food began to be commercialized in the United States in 1992, the Food and Drug Administration has been siding with manufacturers claiming there is no need to label GMO products since the available evidence shows there is no difference between genetically engineered crops and conventional ones (Costanigro & Lusk, 2014). However, as long as there are contradicting claims on issues that might put the general public at risk, the government should not take a stand before giving a deep consideration to such claims. Nevertheless, there are countries such as New Zealand, Japan, China and Korea who have made it a legal requirement for manufacturers to label GMO foods (Costanigro & Lusk, 2014). This is a clear indication that the raised concerns have some background and so no hesitation should be made in ensuring these products are properly labeled.

More also, in the case of any health risk that may arise in future consumers are the ones who will bear direct consequences and so they should be allowed to make choices. Therefore, they should be the one to have a final say on whether to consume these products and not the government or the manufacturer. Those that raise the highest voice in objecting GMO labeling do so because of fear that such an action would have negative impacts on the sale of their products (Costanigro & Lusk, 2014). However, if their claims that GMO food is ideal for human consumption, they should not be worried about such a step because all they will be expected to do is to provide full information to consumers about their products. Since genetic engineering allows for mass production in comparison to conventional methods, GMO foods can be sold at a lower price and this suppresses the rights of producers who do not embrace this technology (Costanigro & Lusk, 2014). If differentiation is made, consumers will be able to go for what they want without necessarily being guided by price hence creating fairness in the market.

In conclusion, we note that there still exist concerns that doubt the health safety of GMOs. But since food products that are manufactured with genetically engineered ingredients are already in the market, they should be properly labeled so that consumers can be allowed freedom to make their choice.

 

References

Costanigro, M. & Lusk, J. (2014). The Signaling Effect of Mandatory Labels on Genetically Engineered Food. Food Policy, 49(1), 259-267.

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GMO Food Should Have Labels

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