Labeling

Critics of GM foods may agree that they have to send a message not only through political advocacy but also through the consumer choices they make. For consumers to send a message through their choices, they must know which foods contain GM ingredients. No one questions the right of the consumer to make informed choices. Why not require that GM food be labeled to guide consumer choice?

Industry representatives offer three responses to this question. First, they observe that any manufacturer can state on a label or in advertising that its product is GM-free as long as this is true; indeed, the "organic" label implies as much. If the label does not say that a product is "GM-free" or "organic," the consumer can assume that it is not. The label "May Contain GM Ingredients," if stamped on food products, would add no information. In international forums U.S. representatives have appeared to be ready to accept this type of universal label or symbol. The label would underscore the fact that a product not labeled as being GM-free may contain at least some amount of an ingredient from a GM plant (USDS).

Second, to segregate commodity flows would be enormously costly. If a drop of soy oil from an engineered plant is mixed into a tank of oil—chemically identical to it—from conventional soy, would that taint the whole lot? How well would the tanker have to be cleaned to remove the taint? Those who observe religious restrictions have over the centuries worked out rules to determine, for example, how milk and meat are to be separated and how plates are to be washed. Are the resources available to segregate and trace through the entire food industry flows of commodities, such as canola oil, to segregate by source substances that are nearly indistinguishable chemically? No one objects if those who wish to observe aesthetic, ceremonial, or religious distinctions do so, but this must be done at their own expense. At present purveyors of "organic" food pay to assure its identity and history. Those who produce, sell, and buy ordinary products do not want the burden of that expense (IFT, pp. 124-136).

Third, so many methods of genetic manipulation enter into the production of food at so many levels—bacteria that produce enzymes that catalyze fermentation are genetically engineered but are not found in the cheese, for example— that it would be a nightmare to write regulations that determine what is or is not manipulated. By comparison, to set up rules to define "organic" food was an exercise as difficult as squaring the circle; in a literal, biological sense all food is organic. Virtually all foods are genetically manipulated as the products of artificial selection; to say which ones are not manipulated in a relevant sense is not easy. Worse, megacorporations design for the label; lawyers and engineers find ways to make the products of industrial processes comply with any set of regulations. This is the way the food industry works. This situation frustrates those who want to get food from Mother Nature rather than from Consolidated Agribusiness (Pollan).

Keep Your Weight In Check During The Holidays

Keep Your Weight In Check During The Holidays

A time for giving and receiving, getting closer with the ones we love and marking the end of another year and all the eating also. We eat because the food is yummy and plentiful but we don't usually count calories at this time of year. This book will help you do just this.

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