A consumer’s right to know

Genetically engineered foods should be labeled for consumers.

Editorial board

This November, Californians will get the chance to decide whether labeling of food containing genetically engineered ingredients should be required by law. If Proposition 37 passes, food companies will either have to label their genetically modified products or reformulate them using non-GM ingredients.

Opponents of the measure include food companies like Nestle, Pepsi, Coke and General Mills. Two leading merchants of genetically modified seed, Monsanto and DuPont, also oppose the measure. Both companies have invested more than $12 million against the food-labeling initiative. Advertisements in California argue that passing the proposition will result in higher production costs for both consumers and farmers. They say the cost of food would rise, but according to an economic assessment by a professor at the Emory University School of Law, the labels would have little or no change in consumer food prices. Prices would most likely rise if companies swapped their GM ingredients for more costly, natural ingredients.

More than 40 countries require the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Genetically modified organisms have been in many processed foods for years without public knowledge. In the U.S., thousands of grocery products contain ingredients such as corn and soybeans — roughly 90 percent of which are genetically engineered, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

More than nine in 10 voters in America support the Federal Drug Administration requirement of labeling genetically engineered foods, according to a survey commissioned by a pro-labeling coalition. Every consumer has the right to know how their food is produced, and companies should disclose whether they include GM ingredients. Requiring a label on GM foods will bring a healthy awareness to Americans who care about what they eat.