Why They Should Not be Labeled
Those in favor of labeling genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) say it is a matter of "right-to-know." They want GMO ingredients added to the label so they can make informed choices about the food they eat. Those opposed to labeling say it offers no additional nutritional information, and could be construed as a type of warning – causing unnecessary fear of GMOs.
Bold statements and hype plague both sides of the debate. At one end of the spectrum, supporters of GMOs believe that GM foods are totally safe, are no different from foods made from crops modified by thousands of years of conventional breeding, and that they will usher in a new era of global food security. At the other end? Concern that GM food could disrupt natural biodiversity, that GM technology could create and unleash potentially harmful strains of crops, or that GM ingredients could cause negative effects on human health – including allergies and organ toxicity.
Individual GM crops have been studied extensively, and the general consensus among a broad group of scientific and medical organizations is that GM crops are safe to eat and pose no more threat to the environment than conventional crops. Lack of evidence does not necessarily mean concerns are unfounded. GMOs have only been around for a few decades; while they have been studied extensively, none of the research has looked at long-term effects on either human health or the environment.
In September, Scientific American defended GMO science and made their position clear in an article entitled “Labels for GMO foods are a bad idea."
Last year, the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a statement saying, “There are several current efforts to require labeling of foods containing products derived from genetically modified crop plants, commonly known as GM crops or GMOs. These efforts are not driven by evidence that GM foods are actually dangerous. Indeed, the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe. Rather, these initiatives are driven by a variety of factors, ranging from the persistent perception that such foods are somehow “unnatural" and potentially dangerous to the desire to gain competitive advantage by legislating attachment of a label meant to alarm."