Support food-labeling efforts

Daily Editorial Board

The United States Senate Agriculture Committee has approved legislation to prohibit states from mandating food labels that specify whether products include genetically modified organisms. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar was one of three Democrats and 11 Republicans who approved the bill. 
 
 
Although the legislation is still a long way from taking effect — the full Senate hasn’t even approved it yet — Klobuchar said she wanted to begin the debate process, adding that the Senate will probably amend the bill to make it more favorable to consumers. 
 
 
Labeling advocates will respond warmly to such amendments, as many transparency activists have already spoken out against the new bill. At the same time, Minnesota food corporations such as General Mills and Land O’Lakes have voiced their approval of the legislation.
 
 
We stand in favor of expanding, not discouraging, food-labeling laws. Consumers deserve to know what exactly is in the food they’re purchasing, and a bill that hinders that knowledge empowers corporations at consumers’ expense. 
 
 
While the fears surrounding GMOs’ purported health hazards are often overblown — GMO products on the international market, in particular, are subject to intense review — research suggests that genetically modified crops could impact the environment by breeding with unmodified plant life. As a result, even consumers unafraid that GMOs will compromise their health might worry about their environmental hazards. 
 
 
It seems probable that a Republican-controlled Congress will pass the Agricultural Committee’s bill, but we urge Sens. Klobuchar and Al Franken to support any pro-transparency amendments that arise during the debate process.