Warning: GMO Label to Soon Appear
Shoppers love labels – designer
labels, organic labels, care labels. A product’s packaging is made of about
fifty percent marketing material and fifty percent informational labels. Foods
have nutritional facts, active ingredients, and soon labels indicating genetic
modification. Some of these labels are optional and some are required by law.
They are all glanced over in a sense but they are still generally acknowledged.
It’s not always the content but the presence of a label itself that important.
Shoppers make purchases based of trust and picking up food in an unmarked bag
does not feel as safe as picking up that loaf of bread with nutritional facts.
Even if that loaf of bread confesses to an excessive amount of nutrients you
should be limiting.
The most wildly discussed label right now is the genetically modified organism (GMO) label. Not too long ago, our Congress passed a bill then signed by President Obama mandating companies to add a label to foods that contain GMOs. Our food can be genetically changed a number or ways but essentially the product is coded to have higher yield. The point of it can be to have a longer shelf life, repel insects, resist herbicides, withstand drought, or to grow faster and larger. Studies have shown that about 70%-80% of our food has altered DNA. For example, soy bean crops that are able to resist certain pesticides - so when the plants are sprayed for bugs, the soy beans don’t go down with them. Another popular example is a biological antifreeze gene put into salmon, allowing them to resist the cold water during winter and continue growing when their growth is usually slowed down. A salmon can grow to its adult size in less than 2 years as opposed to 3 years. There are arguments advocating and countering the use of GMOs but it is generally agreed that consumers should be educated and left with the choice of which products they will purchase.
By this time, 64 other countries have already required companies to provide a notice on their packaging. Our Department of agriculture has two years to define the standards of the required label. So far the bill does not have a penalty for companies who fail to follow these rules and gives no authority to recall improperly labeled products. The bill also states that it’s acceptable for the label to just be a scannable QR code, a dial 1-800 number, or plain text. Many advocates calling for a label don’t believe this is enough, stating that the former two discriminate against those of low income. It can’t just be assumed that everyone has the technology available to them to immediately scan or call. Two years is also a great deal of time to conduct further studies on genetically modified foods, see more advances in GMOs, and for consumers to be educated.
Some brands are afraid this could bring down their sales but big companies have already begun to indicate whether or not some of their product contain GMOs with labels and their sales have not decreased. The coffee industry is accustomed to the transparency that curious coffee drinkers ask for in our beans. Labels and certification for standards of fair trade, rainforest conservation, and shade grown are commonly. The GMO label is all about trust and transparency – not exactly a danger warning label. Make yourself a cup of coffee and start becoming an educated consumer on these GMOs!
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