Organic Consumers Association

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What You Need to Know about GMO Labeling

Do consumers want mandatory GMO labeling?

Yes. Over the past 10+ years since GMOs have been introduced into our food system, polls have consistently shown that over 90 percent of Americans approve of GMO labeling. You can find a summary of these polls here.

The only time public opinion turns against GMO labeling is when Big Ag and Big Food spend millions of dollars to saturate the airwaves with false claims about increased food costs and potential harm to farmers and retailers.  Even after massively outspending the pro-labeling campaigns in during ballot initiative attempts California, Washington and Oregon, the anti-labeling campaigns were able to defeat those initiatives by only the slimmest of margins.

What’s wrong with voluntary GMO labeling programs?

After 13 years, the FDA only recently announced plans to finalize its federal voluntary GMO labeling guidelines. Given the hundreds of millions of dollars food corporations have spent to defeat GMO labeling laws, we have no reason to believe those same corporations will consistently and truthfully label their products on a voluntary basis just because the FDA finalizes guidelines.

One of the reasons to require labeling of GMOs is to make it possible to track health issues that may be related to the consumption of food containing GMOs. This is possible only if food companies are required to label all foods that contain GMOs.

Will GMO labeling cause food prices to increase?

Numerous independent studies show that requiring companies to label GMOs will not result in an increase in food prices. Corporations change product labels all the time, it’s a routine cost of doing business. Food costs did not increase when food companies were required to add nutrition and allergen labels. And in countries that have already enacted mandatory GMO labeling laws, there has been no impact on food costs. The industry likes to cite a single study, the Cornell Study, as evidence that mandatory GMO labeling laws will trigger increases in food costs. But that study was paid for by the biotech industry, and remains the intellectual property of the Biotech Industry Organization.

Farmers have been selectively breeding plants for thousands of years, how are GMOs different?

Selective breeding occurs when a farmer saves the seeds from the best plants, in order to promote desired traits in future plants. GMOs are created in a lab by a scientist who takes a seed that has been developed using selective breeding and injects it with DNA from a foreign source, such as bacteria, using a virus or a gene gun. The result is an organism that would never, and could never have existed naturally. The vast majority of genetically engineered crops have been developed to either survive being sprayed by a synthetic chemical herbicide, or to cause the plant to produce a pesticide on its own. Learn more here.

Natural selective breeding has been practiced for over 10,000 years, and is the basis on which agriculture was created. All of our modern crops were developed as a result of many generations practicing selective breeding.

Genetic engineering is new. We do not know how it will affect our health in the long term, because the FDA does not require long-term studies on the impact of GMOs on human health.

How are GMOs different than Hybrid plants?

Hybrid plants are created by crossing two varieties of the same plant through pollination, in order to make a plant that possess the best traits of both varieties. Hybrids can and do happen in nature. GMOs are created in a laboratory when a scientist uses a virus or gene gun to inject a piece of foreign DNA into a plant. This creates a new organism that never could have existed in nature. Learn more here.

Are GMOs safe? Have they been safety tested? (Are GMOs tested more than non-GMO foods?)

In 2013, an international group of more than 200 scientists, academics and physicians released a statement saying there is no scientific consensus on the safety of genetically modified foods and crops.

Numerous independent studies conducted over the past decade reveal that consuming GMOs, as well as the toxic chemicals used to grow them, could contribute to a long list of health complications, including food allergiesreproductive issues, and cancer.

The biotech industry has a long history of systematically silencing scientists whose research links GMOs to health risks.

According to recent news reports, Monsanto executives solicited pro-GMO articles from university researchers, and passed the “research” off as independent science which the biotech giant then used to prop up its image and further its agenda.

Is GMO labeling a marketing ploy by the organic food industry?

GMO labeling is not a marketing ploy, it’s the right thing to do. In fact, requiring labels on GMO foods could hurt organic sales, because consumers would no longer need to buy certified organic products in order to guarantee the products they purchase are GMO-free.

 

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