Viewpoint: Brazil GMO label shows need to balance transparency and science

transgenicos o que sao biomercado brasil x
Image credit: BioMercado Brasil

Since 2003, Brazilian law has required all consumer products containing genetically modified material to carry a scary-looking label that depicts a black T (standing for the Portuguese word “transgenicos”) inside a yellow triangle. It bears a striking — and probably not entirely accidental — resemblance to the fearsome biohazard symbol.

It’s not quite a skull-and-crossbones, but it certainly comes close.  And it underscores the problem with labeling, namely, that it suggests that the presence of GMOs is something to be concerned about, though scientifically speaking, it is not.

As I follow the Brazilian debate, I find myself welcoming the efforts of Brazilian senators to ditch the transgenic T label. However, the perception that the use of genetic engineering — and its resulting products — will now be kept “secret” can surely only lead to greater unwarranted fears about GMO safety and a further proliferation of the already-widespread conspiracy theories about the technology generally.

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What Brazil needs — and what the US will hopefully also end up with — is a system that is transparent enough to reassure consumers, but subtle enough to allow the complexities of the real world to be properly reflected.

Read full, original post: Brazilian debate highlights need for smart GMO labeling regime

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