Why I used to support mandatory GMO labeling and now don’t

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I am opposed to government mandated GMO labels, though I started of in favor of them. In fact I helped a little on the campaign for labeling when I was working for Hartford Food System in Connecticut. Once I developed a stronger understanding of the issues surrounding genetically engineered crops, I realized that, not only do mandatory GMO labels make no sense, but they go against my principles.

Many people have a hard time wrapping their heads around how anyone could be opposed to a government mandated label for foods with ingredients derived from crops bred using the techniques of genetic engineering. They tend to assume that there is no principled case to be made and that all the opponents of mandatory GMO labels must have some financial stake in the issue. (I do not. In fact, not being opposed to genetically engineered crops narrows my horizons as a progressive writing about the food system.)

I would argue that people do have a “right to know” what is in their food, but that government isn’t always the proper vehicle for mediating that right.

To understand why someone would oppose a mandatory label identifying GE ingredients, you first have to understand the philosophical case against government overreach when it comes to commercial speech. This is laid out quite clearly in the four part test established by the Supreme Court in Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission of New York.

Here are five reasons why I oppose mandatory GMO labels.

Read full, original articleA principle case against mandatory GM label

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