October 24, 2007

Activists Seek Labels for Biotech Foods

Environmental groups in the U.S. and abroad continue to argue that food products containing genetically modified ingredients ought to be labeled as such, if for no other reason than to give consumer a choice.

Environmental groups in Iowa are leading a campaign to make labeling the law, and have succeeded in getting Hillary Clinton and John Edwards to agree with them.

Biotech companies continue to reject arguments that GMOs could have environmental or health implications, pointing out that the FDA has judged them fit for consumption.

[Critics previously told Newsdesk.org that FDA testing does not factor in long-term safety concerns, and that the agency has overlooked warnings by its own staff of potential health risks from genetically modified crops. An FDA spokesman said dissent within the agency is a “good thing,” while a federal court found that FDA administrators are entitled to overrule their research staff.]

Both sides of the argument can cite studies that speak in their favor, according to the Des Moines Register.

Absent any legislation, some food companies are already labeling their products non-GMO, while some states have taken it upon themselves to require labeling of certain products sold in their stores.

For example, Alaska passed a bill in 2005 requiring labels on genetically altered fish, while Vermont requires labeling on genetically engineered seeds, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Although an effort to ban GMO ingredients outright passed in California’s Mendocino county, the trend failed to spread widely, and federal farm legislation may undermine state and local laws, according to the Record in Stockton, Calif.

Activists, meanwhile, are pushing an awareness agenda.

Greenpeace has warned officials in the United Arab Emirates against importing products like basmati rice from India that could be genetically modified but are not labeled as such.

The group warned that it also risks re-exporting those goods to other nations, such as many of those in Europe, that ban the import of genetically modified foods.

Currently the UAE has no system to test imported goods for GMOs, although officials say they are now in the beginning stages of developing one, according to Gulf News.

Sources:

“Genetically altered food: Labels hotly debated in Iowa”
Des Moines Register Oct. 19, 2007

“Genetically modified food imports raise concerns”
Gulf News (UAE), October 7, 2007

“The label debate”
Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2007

“Farm Bill May Ease Modified Crop Ban”
The Record (Stockton), June 18, 2007

“A Grassroots Battle over Biotech Farming”
Newsdesk.org, October 12, 2004

“FDA Critics Cite Biotech Food Safety”
Newsdesk.org, April 15, 2005

3 thoughts on “Activists Seek Labels for Biotech Foods

  1. I deffinatly think that people should be provided with the option. Some people may not care but the information should be made available for the people that do.

  2. I think that the genetically altered foods and animals should be labeled in the case that the altering of them results in a long-term effect that has not been seen yet by testers. Foods that go unlabeled are also exported to foreign countries, and if enough hype goes on, foreign countries could outlaw genetically altered imported foods all together. This would most likely hurt our economy immensely, considering all of the genetically altered products on our market today.

  3. we are living in a world of know.every human has a right to know what there eating whether short or long term..there are bigger fish to fry it seems but this is a good cause in itself..i eat organic so i dont have to worry..much