The news has been buzzing lately with consumer anger about GMO labeling, and many people are slamming it as a deceptive scam that tricks people into eating potentially unsafe “frankenfoods.” Though the production of genetically modified food is a widely debated issue, the labeling of GMO products is broadly agreed upon – over 90% of Americans agree that genetically modified foods should be identified as such.
Legislation calling for GMO labeling was shot down in Connecticut this month when food producers threatened lawsuits. A similar bill failed in Vermont in April, and fifteen more states are considering GMO labeling legislation soon. Will Big Food get the better of all of them?
The History Behind the GMO Labeling Scam
To a large extent, humans have been genetically altering species for thousands of years – everything from the wheat you eat to the Golden Retriever you pet was created by selectively breeding for certain desired traits.
Yet genetic engineering as we know it today – directly manipulating the genetic material of an organism by adding foreign or synthetic DNA – dates back to just 1986 when tobacco plants were first altered to be resistant to herbicides. Within a few years, the use of genetically modified plants became ubiquitous.
In 1992, then Vice President Dan Quayle announced that genetic engineering was “substantially equivalent” to regular plant breeding and thus required no new regulation. Most controversially, this meant that food crops could be freely manipulated in a lab without any safety testing or labeling.
Growing Demand for Labeling Legislation
From the start, many scientists and government officials slammed this policy as shady at best and downright corrupt at worst. FDA compliance officer Dr. Linda Kahl wrote that the ruling was "... trying to fit a square peg into a round hole... [by] trying to force an ultimate conclusion that there is no difference between foods modified by genetic engineering and foods modified by traditional breeding practices."
Nowadays, almost all of the processed foods in the United States contain GMOs. Though it’s still unclear if GMOs actually pose any real health risks, a growing movement of constituents condemn American policies as intentionally fraudulent and are demanding the labeling (if not elimination) of genetically modified foods.
Yet lawmakers’ efforts to meet the demands of voters are lost in the deep pockets of companies like Monsanto, for which GMOs are bread and butter.
America is one of the only developed nations that has no legislation requiring GMO labeling. The entire European Union, China, Japan, Brazil, Australia, and Russia are amongst the 50 nations that include GMO information on packaging – effectively giving their populations the choice to consume or avoid GMOs as they see fit. Why can’t Americans be allowed to make that same decision for themselves? We have the right to know what’s in our food.
What You Can Do About the GMO Labeling Scam
The good news is that Americans are making their demands known. Sites like Just Label It and Label GMOs are spreading awareness about the scam and collecting signatures to support GMO labeling legislation. The response from the public is overwhelmingly positive, and Big Food can’t ignore 90% of the population forever!
Get in on the action and tell the FDA what you think about GMO labeling!