Genetically modified foods (GMOs) have been controversial in the United States since they were first used in the 1990s (Byrne, Pendell and Graff 1). Much of their disputation has derived from the negative connotations that are typically associated with genetically modified foods. Organisms that are genetically engineered have been modified with genesplicing techniques that take a copy of a beneficial gene from one organism and insert it into another organism. About 70% of the United
States’ processed foods have traces of genetically modified materials (Dahl 1). This idea of breeding organisms with improved genes is not new; hybridization has been used for centuries (“Should You
Worry About GMOs” 5). The only difference between these two methods is that genetic modification is done in a lab and is more precise without taking as much time (Rotman 31). Those who are adverse to GMOs will argue that GMOs may cause future health issues due to the proteins creating new allergies or having an effect on the immune system of humans. They are also concerned about environmental issues such as wildlife species being affected, for instance the endangerment of monarch butterflies because of GMOs (“Should You Worry About GMOs” 5). However, supporters of GMOs believe that they are completely safe and provide too many benefits to be discarded from the market.
Genetically modified produce, created by an inexpensive agricultural method, is beneficial because these crops can be disease resistant, pesticide resistant, and be made more nutritious. They could also be the only way to feed the population that will be predicted to reach nine billion by 2050 (Rotman 31).
The main controversy with genetically modified foods is whether or not they should be forced to have a label. Currently there are no federal laws that force the mandatory labeling of GMOs (Byrne,
Pendell and Graff 1). Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont have already authorized a requirement for labeling (Byrne, Pendell and Graff 1). The Food and Drug Administration has not enforced labeling because they have found that GMO’s have no significant nutritional difference to other produce that is not genetically engineered(Byrne, Pendell and Graff 1). Those who advocate mandatory labeling argue that consumers should be informed so they can make a choice on whether they want to purchase GMO
products or avoid them (Byrne, Pendell and Graff 2). Some believe this mandatory labeling would be unnecessary because GMOs are safe and it may cause unneeded expenses (Byrne, Pendell and Graff 2).
The Food and Drug Administration should reject laws requiring genetically modified food labels because of the economic complications, deceptive nature of the label, and the forcing of GMOs off shelves, resulting in no consumer choice.
Although polls show that a majority of people would like to have GMO labels, there are other studies that show people are unwilling to pay the extra costs involved with labeling (Marchant 2).
When adding labels, there are hidden cost beyond just the paper and ink used to print the labels (Byrne,
Pendell and Graff 3). In order to be able to recognize that a product contains a genetically modified material, it must be tracked and separated from organic materials all along the value chain of food production (Marchant 2). A process known as the identity preservation system (IP) would be needed for accurate labeling which could be expensive, especially for crops with large volumes (Marchant 2).
An example of these kinds of crops would be corn and soybeans which are mostly genetically modified when grown in the United States (“Should You Worry About GMOs” 4). In order to avoid these procedures, farmers may avoid using GMOs completely, forcing them to use more expensive methods of production and additional pesticides (Byrne, Pendell and Graff 3). There would also be the regulation cost of