Editorial: Don't Label Genetically Modified Foods

For more than thirty years, scientists have been using genetic engineering to modify plants that are used for food. The engineering process removes a desirable trait from the DNA of one organism and then transplants the gene for that trait into a second organism so that the second organism will have the trait. Plants have been engineered to have desirable traits such as greater resistance to insects, faster growth, and more nutritional value. Despite these obvious benefits, some backward people are afraid of genetically modified (GM) food because they think it could be harmful to their health. They want GM food to be labeled so that consumers know what they are buying. These labels are completely unnecessary.

There is no evidence that genetically modified foods cause any harm to anyone. No less an authority than one of the largest GM food-producing companies in the world has pointed out that “multiple health societies, hundreds of independent scientific experts, and dozens of governments around the world have determined that foods and ingredients developed through biotechnology are safe.”

Moreover, adding labels to GM foods would put an unfair burden on food suppliers and, in the end, consumers. The U.S. food storage, processing, and transportation systems are not set up to keep GM and non-GM products separate. Doing so would require a major overhaul of the systems-and that would cost money. Who would pay for the increased costs? Ultimately, you and I would. Food suppliers will pass those costs along to us and raise prices.

The fact is that consumers do not need to have GM foods labeled in order to avoid them. All they have to do is buy foods labeled “organic.” Federal standards define organic foods as having only accidental trace amounts of genetically modified material.