Consumers have continuously demanded the labeling of genetically modified foods claiming they deserve the right to know what they take. The government has resigned to the people’s appeal and enacted policies of mandatory labeling. However, labeling is a costly and complicated procedure that leads to a waste of resources. Labeling is a process that encompasses issues like science, trade barriers, safety, cost, accountability, and legal liability. The disclosure method requires auditing from scratch, from food production sectors such as seed companies and farmers to processing companies, distributors, and retailers. The labeling requires verification and testing costs at each stage and is, therefore, not just ink and stamp work. Research conducted in Canada indicated that labeling costs translate to over 35% on producer price and an increase of at least 9% on retail prices (ISAAA).
The increased additional cost of production and distribution courtesy of labeling GMO products increases product prices. Undoubtedly no consumer would wish to have prices of products elevated courtesy of compulsory labeling policies. Furthermore, genetically engineered crops grow in adverse weather conditions, require low production expenses, and produce a greater yield. Labeling policies that discourage GMO crops would mean growing traditional crops that require pesticides and depend on favorable climate. Growing conventional crops would make products scarce and unaffordable to the consumers (The Editors).
Genetically modified organisms are designed through careful application of scientific techniques to achieve an organism’s desired traits. The developers of GMOs spend years of research and testing to ascertain the safety of the products. There is no way an unsafe GMO product can find its way into the market without authorities’ consent. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has frequently tested genetically engineered crops and found them fit for human health. Therefore, labeling is unjustifiable since it bears no adverse risks to consumers (Hoewyk). Labeling stirs up consumers’ minds and misguides them from buying the products due to the misconception of genetically engineered crops causing health issues. FDA requires product labeling if there are material changes that bear positive or negative impacts.
The government has enacted the labeling practices just because consumers have demanded they have the right to choose products they consume. Although the government is the people’s voice, the people’s proposal may not be warranted. The government has instituted compulsory labeling laws despite evidence of GMO meeting safety standards. For instance, organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has tested and verified that GMO products are utterly safe. In this case, the government appeals to the people’s authority, even though their argument is unjustified (Hamblin).
GMO products are also associated with misconceptions that have misled consumers. Consumers generalize the idea that genetically modified products cause cancers and are meant to eliminate people’s existence. The rumors surrounding genetically engineered products strike fear in people and blind them to GMOs’ facts. Consequently, the fallacies have made consumers disregard the advantages of genetically engineered crops and emphasize the side effects. Genetically engineered crops can grow in unfavorable conditions, resists pests, and produce abundant harvest compared to conventional crops. Moreover, some crops such as golden rice are more nutritious and prevent blindness while others are used as vaccines. The proponents of labeling genetically modified products ignore the evidence of the bright side of genetic technology and trust in propaganda to make a judgment. The proponents of labeling also believe that non-GMO products are healthier and better than the engineered ones, and therefore their argument is biased and inflexible.
Even though the supporters of GMO labeling argue that they deserve to know the food content, their effort goes beyond just seeking knowledge. Labeled genetically engineered products serve as a warning to a consumer that is escaped by all means. When a consumer encounters a product with the GMO badge, the product is shunned due to confusion. Therefore, labeling has transparency issues since it aims to reduce the intake of GMO products.
How biases were minimized
Consumers have frequently insisted, “why not label these foods if you are so sure of their safety?” in the debate of labeling GMO products. A significant amount of consumers question the motives of companies supplying the foods. Doubting the reports of safety from the genetically modified food industry is justified since the desire for profits could drive them. However, unbiased sources of the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have testified the engineered foods (Poinski). The findings from the neutral sources indicate that labeling the products is unwarranted.
The terminology of “bioengineering” is also biased by many consumers and is linked to all sorts of evil. Consumers may not understand what GMO entails but associate the products with cancer and other kinds of danger. The government and the producers of GMO products need to educate citizens on engineered products’ advantages to achieve desired results. Additionally, labeling should not serve as a red flag to consumers but should only empower them with knowledge (ISAAA). It is sad how labeling has been emphasized, yet people consume GMO products from unpacked foods without stirring complaints. I entirely believe the additional costs of labeling GMO products should be invested in other ways.
The Editors. “Labels for GMO Foods Are a Bad Idea.” Scientific American, 1 Sept. 2013, www.scientificamerican.com/article/labels-for-gmo-foods-are-a-bad-idea/.
Hamblin, James. “‘I Have a Right to Know What’s in My Food’—No One Is Denying That.” The Atlantic, 24 July 2015, www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/07/no-one-is-denying-a-right-to-know-whats-in-my-food/399536/.
Hoewyk, Doug V. “If GMOs Are Safe, Why Aren’t They Labeled? Straight Answer to a Valid Question.” Genetic Literacy Project, 12 Jan. 2018, geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/10/23/if-gmos-are-safe-why-arent-they-labeled-straight-answer-to-a-valid-question/#.
ISAAA. “Labeling GM Foods.” International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications – ISAAA.org, Aug. 2004, www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/pocketk/7/default.asp.
Poinski, Megan. “Food Manufacturers Can Put GMO Labels on Their Products in 2020. Will They?” Food Dive, 27 Jan. 2020, www.fooddive.com/news/food-manufacturers-can-put-gmo-labels-on-their-products-in-2020-will-they/570505/.