Leading bioethicist says food industry should voluntarily label GMO foods

| | September 9, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

Should labels be required for all food that contains genetically modified ingredients? Absolutely yes. But, not for the reason that is dividing Americans over GMOs.

The case for labeling is tied up with arguments about safety. But that is entirely the wrong issue. The reason GMO food should be voluntarily labeled by the food industry is that some consumers want to know what they are eating and they have a right to know what is in their food.

Seeing the pro-GMO food industry fight labeling on the grounds that GMO food is safe is pathetic.

Think about the words that go onto food products now that have nothing to do with safety, or nutrition: ‘Baked fresh’; ‘immune support’; ‘whole grain’; ‘lower fat’; ‘great source of protein’; ‘made with real fruit’; not to mention ‘made in Italy, Vermont, Australia’ — and my favorite, ‘made with love’.

Arguing against including GMO labeling when we use these labels is like arguing that Donald Trump’s hairdo should not be made fun of because it is entirely his own hair.

Opponents of labeling need to end their opposition to letting people know what they want to know about their food. If the industry really believes that GMO food is fine — and I am in that camp — then slap a smiley-faced DNA helix on the package and promote the hell out of the fact that high-tech GMO is in most of your breakfast cereals, cooking oil, and frozen food.

It has been for well over a decade — and those who eat it don’t have a third eye. So, whether eating GMO food is, or is not, a big worry for you, demand a label right next to the announcement that elves made your cookies.

Read full, original post:  GMO Foods Should be Labeled, But Not for Safety: Bioethicist

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.

7 thoughts on “Leading bioethicist says food industry should voluntarily label GMO foods”

  1. Mr. Caplan, your support of the safety of GE foods is commendable. However, your statement “The reason GMO food should be voluntarily labeled by the food industry is that some consumers want to know what they are eating and they have a right to know what is in their food” continues to mislead the public.

    GE food is not produced by adding a “thing” to the food, and stating this in the wording that the public has a “right to know what is in their food” continues that misleading meme. GE is not a “thing.” It is not an ingredient. It is a process.

    Just like mutagenesis of conventional and organic food. A process.

    Please do not continue the misperceptions of the public that are driven by organic-funded activists, by buying into the myth that somehow GE foods have some kind of a “thing” in them. And labeling GE foods in this way, implying or stating that X food is GMO just produces more confusion and lack of scientific credibility relative to the purpose of labeling food in the first place. This kind of label says nothing about the kind of genetic engineering, what the purpose is of the GE process for that food, and only serves to demonize the very foods that you claim to support.

    If a food company wishes voluntarily to state that a food has been genetically engineered to resist pests that produce mycotoxins, or to use less pestides, or to reduce soil tillage, or to save water, or to add XYZ nutrients, then a food company will do that.

    Saying, as you suggest, that “…high tech GMO is in most of your breakfast cereals…” etc. tells the consumer nothing. It is not a substance or a “thing” in our foods.

    • So call it a process.
      We want to know if this process was used to make our food.
      How can it tell me nothing when it would clearly tell me if that process was used so that I could choose a food that was made by a different process?

  2. GMO means genetically modified organism. However one does the modification, the genes change. In some cases a gene is added. In some cases a gene is deleted. In some cases a gene is silenced, i.e. not expressed in terms of its metabolomics (the products of gene expression). Are you recommending GMO labeling of foods that involve either genetic deletion or gene silencing so as to decrease the toxicity or environmental impact of a particular food? If so, have you considered the perverseness of your position?

  3. Yes, on Moral grounds alone, all GMO’s should be labelled. They are no foisted on the population without informed consent. There is no confusion if someone wants to know about their food, they can then search it out like HFCS or anything else.

    Safety is an issue, all industry studies are 90 days for a reason, because they don’t show any issues until 120 days and it only gets worse after that with sterility showing up in the second and third generations. I don’t think we have 2-3 generations to find out these problems in the population, so they should also be outright banned.

    however, I still agree with GM medical uses as there is informed consent and sometimes there is no other choice available.

    • At no time in my life, and under no circumstances involving any medical professional, have I ever been informed that any genetically modified organism has been used to produce any substance or material with which I have been treated. Yet I’m quite sure that somewhere in my treatment regimes somewhere there were transgenic components, which by the way gives me great pleasure & reassurance that the best technologies have been used to keep me healthy. There is indeed no way for most medical professionals to know whether such substance or material that they administer to a patient may have been produced via genetic engineering as contrasted with any other type of technology. Your premise about parsing out GM medical uses is faulty.

      Also, your statements about toxicology studies are not well informed. The typical 90 day (13 week) subchronic study is the standard type of study which is conducted for the purpose of estimating (in rodents) less-than-lifetime hazard endpoints. The hazard endpoints are then ratioed vs. exposure levels in order to perform risk assessments pertaining to humans and domestic animals. Chronic studies of 18 months (in mouse) or 24 months (in rat) are conducted for estimating hazard endpoints for risk assessments pertaining to full lifetime exposure durations. Both subchronic and chronic studies, as well as acute toxicity studies, are used to perform risk assessments for the medical sciences and for technology that impacts production of food and feed. The same types of studies and risk assessments are also used to estimate environmental and ecological impacts. Unless you personally are a professional toxicologist then you can’t rationally address these concepts. To say that 120 days is more suitable than 90 days is meaningless.

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