Organic Consumers Association

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Yes: Food Labels Would Let Consumers Make Informed Choices - Scientists from AAAS

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our California News page.

The paternalistic assertion that labeling of genetically modified foods "can only serve to mislead and falsely alarm consumers" is an Orwellian argument that violates the right of consumers to make informed decisions. Civilization rests on the confidence that an individual's basic human rights will be respected by the government, including the 'right to know.' The AAAS board failed to note that the FDA's testing program for GM foods is voluntary.

As a group of scientists and physicians that includes many long-standing members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), we challenge the recent AAAS Board of Directors statement opposing efforts to require labeling of foods containing products derived from genetically modified crop plants. Their position tramples the rights of consumers to make informed choices.

The statement argues: "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."

This narrow focus on GMO safety ignores the broader life-cycle impacts of GMO crops. Many GM crops are engineered to be herbicide-resistant, which has led to the evolution of weeds resistant to widely used herbicides, including RoundUp and its active ingredient glyphosate. This, in turn, has led to increased herbicide use and to searches for alternatives. Thus, herbicide-resistant GMOs are committing us to a chemical treadmill.

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