GMO labeling unecessary and unfounded

Fringe concerns regarding GMO products should not beat out the science

by Ronald Dixon

Near the start of the 2015 legislative session, Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, and Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, introduced joint bills that would require companies that produce and distribute food to stores in Minnesota to provide special labels if their ingredients are genetically modified. Genetically modified organisms are manipulated by food engineers to grow better, last longer and produce greater yields.

Americans are quite skeptical of this food technology. An ABC News poll from last year shows that 93 percent of citizens believe that genetically modified foods should be labeled and 57 percent of people would attempt to avoid these food products if they saw this label on packaging.

Moreover, the monopoly that Monsanto has on the global market for these foods paints an even worse picture for those who are worried about what they feed themselves and their families.

Given these common concerns, it only makes sense that Minnesota and several other states currently have pending legislation to label genetically modified foods. Every European Union country — as well as China, Japan and Russia — also has these labeling laws. While the intent of the Minnesota proposals may be legitimate, the consequences of passing such legislation would outweigh the benefits.

First and foremost, there is a divide between the American people and the scientific community with regards to the safety of genetically modified food consumption. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center poll found that 89 percent of scientists believe the modified foods are safe to eat. This proportion exceeds the scientific consensus on climate change, which is 88 percent. Considering the fact that we trust the experts on the severity of climate change, the safety of vaccinations and the validity of the theory of evolution, shouldn’t we believe them on food safety as well?

Moreover, according to the aforementioned poll, if genetically modified foods are labeled as such, many consumers would avoid these products.

Given the fact that American consumers are undereducated on both the prevalence and safety of genetically modified products in our food supply, labeling these products would hurt both producers and consumers.

Companies would see a drop in sales while consumers would lose out in having to spend more of their paychecks on pricier items they don’t need.

Furthermore, given the regulations’ lack of universality across the nation, the legislation would deter businesses from producing and selling in Minnesota. What incentive would they have to continue contributing to the Minnesota market if they know that their food would be valued more elsewhere?

While the proposal to label genetically modified foods is backed by good intentions, the scientific consensus on their safety, as well as the detrimental effects that this legislation could have on the economy, lead us to the conclusion that the proposal should not become a law.