[Note from the instructor: “With GMOs in the news, and a big topic for Hawaii especially, I have my class writing a couple of essays and research papers on whether labeling GMO products should be required. The first essay is on ‘reasons for requiring labeling of foods with GMO ingredients.’ The final submissions are students’ research papers examining what research appears to show about GMOs and proposals for labeling foods with GMO ingredients.” -Danny Wyatt]
Today the world is experiencing a widespread of news concerning the debate on GMO labeling. The social media is being flooded, even Facebook and Twitter, with news about the battle for agricultural justice. Organizations like Non-GMO Project, Occupy Monsanto, and Save Hawai’i from Monsanto are a few of the many groups on Facebook that are supporting requiring GMO labeling. Just recently, activists experienced a near victory in the California; Proposition 37 which would have required labeling for all foods containing GMO ingredients sold in that state was narrowly defeated. In spite of the loss, supporters seem to now have the attention of the opposing party. But labeling supporters are determined to put an end to concealing harmful GMO ingredients that could potentially hurt future generations and question agricultural integrity. While awareness rises, people will soon discover what these sophisticated ingredients really are. This is why activists are commanding the Hawaii legislature to enforce labeling on products containing GMOs and encouraging supporters to take a stand and continue the fight against major corporations like Monsanto and Dole, top producers of genetically engineered (GE) products to simply put labels on their products that contain genetic modified ingredients.
Many opposing labeling are skeptical about labeling products that contain GMOs because they are claiming that it is unnecessary and useless. Anti-labeling groups say that it will only drive up the cost of food that is already on the higher end and potentially destroy small and organic farmers by increasing production costs. The sole purpose of GM crops is to potentially maximize agricultural productivity, but it has done the opposite. According to “Failure to Yield”, the Union of Concerned Scientists has reported that GM production, within 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, has not concluded in an increase yields. In addition, experts are also stating that traditional practices and organic farming methods can double crop yields at minimal cost to farmers. This is possible because farmers aren’t spending excessive amounts of money on pesticides and herbicides to maintain crops. Those doubtful are also stating, “If agencies like the FDA approve the transgenic crops then it is absolutely safe.” (McClure 717-40) But this is not true, the FDA guidelines state that no special labeling is required unless a food is significantly different than its traditional counterpart or where a specific component is altered. So without definitive proof that transgenic crops directly affect the consumer’s health then no labeling is required.
This is why 90 percent of Americans want labels to identify genetically modified products; it is difficult to distinguish which products contain those harmful ingredients. According to “Environmental Nutrition”, 75 to 80 percent of processed foods in the U.S. contain GMO ingredients. Therefore the public is vastly exposed to products that have been contaminated with genetically engineered ingredients being sold in the local supermarkets. Not only is it deceiving, consumers have a right to know what they are consuming. If companies like Monsanto and Dole are so confident that their product is completely safe, then why not label it? By restricting such regulation on their products, it only proves to the consumer that these food manufacturers are trying to conceal vital information that could possibly jeopardize their dominance in the food industry.
Now that news is out that a majority of the U.S. population is eager to install some type of labeling system in our food supply, maybe it will alarm those GM corporations and possibly encourage them to end such concealment. It’s been a long 20 years that consumers have been denied their right to know what they’re consuming, and its time that those companies reveal such deceptions. As long as people continue to stay current about the battle of GMO labeling and continue to educate themselves about the harmful effects of GMOs, then California’s Proposition 37 will be the last defeat the public will ever experience. If supporters continue to be heard by legislatures decide to join forces with the people and take action, then it may potentially lead to a great victory by banning GMOs entirely.
McClure, Jason. “Genetically Modified Food.” CQ Researcher. 31 Aug. 2012: 717-40. Web. 8 Mar. 2013.