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GMO foods shouldn’t be labeled

Lyndee Charles

For about 20 years, foods from genetically engineered organisms have been on our shelves and tables. So what exactly is genetic engineering? It is a method used to introduce new traits or characteristics to an organism, such as enhanced growth or increased nutritional value of a plant that is a food crop. Traditional plant breeding involves crossing two plants, a process which introduces many genes (including the genes that code for a desirable trait and genes that code for undesirable traits) into the new plant.

Genetic engineering allows the number of genes introduced to the new plant to be narrowed down so that only the genes coding for desirable traits are introduced (not the genes coding for undesired traits). Genetic engineering has the potential to decrease adverse environmental effects of conventional agriculture, increase yields for farmers (especially in developing countries), improve the nutritional quality and taste of crops, and contribute to sustainable agriculture.


Unfortunately, these accomplishments are not what come to mind for many Americans when they hear the term “genetically engineered” or GE. Rather, a negative connotation is often attached to the phrase. As college-educated, voting-aged citizens, I believe we should know the facts behind GE foods, especially now that there is currently an effort in Colorado to get an initiative on the 2014 ballot that would require the labeling of GE foods beginning January 2016.

Labeling doesn’t sound so bad, right? After all, consumers have a right to know what’s in their food. As a person with food allergies, I understand just how important it is to know whether or not your food contains allergens. Calorie counts and nutrition labels are a good thing – I think we can all agree on that. So why shouldn’t we pass legislation requiring that GE foods are labeled as such?

First off, GE labeling implies a false warning about health effects. There is no known scientific evidence indicating that GE food is harmful to human health. Let me repeat that: the genetically engineered food that is in grocery stores right now will not hurt you. Food and food ingredients derived from GE plants must adhere to the same safety requirements under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that apply to food and food ingredients derived from traditionally bred plants.

All foods containing GE crops are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. Also, consider this: the agriculturalists who are producing your food are producing the same food for themselves and for their families. The health and safety of the consumer is always a priority.

Secondly, nothing is preventing those who sell GE-free food from labeling it as such. The Food and Drug Administration actually issued draft guidance on this labeling to the food manufacturing industry. As it were, a label for GE-free food already exists. It’s called Certified Organic. If a product is certified as “organic” under federal standards, then the crops used in that product cannot be genetically engineered. Organic food is a niche market I would encourage you to support, if you can. However, if you, like me, are a poor college student you probably know that organic foods are generally more expensive than their nonorganic counterparts. Organic, guaranteed GE-free food is already available, but it may just be out of your price range, bringing me to my last point.

Most importantly, a mandate requiring the labeling of GE foods would cause food prices to go up. The changes that would need to be made to our country’s food system in order to segregate GE and non-GE food products would be substantial, and would undoubtedly result in raised food prices. This is understandable when you consider all the steps that go into getting your food from farm to table: growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing and, finally, consumption.

Our current food system infrastructure could not handle this if GE food labeling was required. If mandatory labeling was to be implemented, several issues would need to be worked out beforehand, and I encourage the creators of GE-labeling legislation to take this into consideration when drafting their proposals.

My fellow students, we are lucky to live in a place where food safety is something we take for granted. I know that this is partly because of how powerful the consumer voice is in America. Our health and the health of our environment is something we cherish and demand, and because of that, producers respond. Let’s continued to be concerned about issues that matter and knowledgeable of the facts behind them.

Lyndee Charles is majoring in International Soil and Crop Science and an avid food-lover. Feedback can be sent to


In brief:

  • As college-educated, voting-aged citizens we should know the facts behind GE-food labeling.
  • GE food is not harmful to human health.
  • GE-free labeling already exists, and mandates requiring further labeling would cause increased food prices.
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    Joel JoyApr 18, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Mrs. Charles in your article “GMO foods shouldn’t be labeled” ,throughout the article you assert that GMOs shouldn’t be labeled because they are approved by the FDA and thus has no reason to be labeled you also that labeling genetically modified foods would cause food prices to go up. A matter of fact they are a myriad of sound reasons why genetically modified or engineered foods should be labeled ,and jumping faulty reasoning hinderers that very progression. Charles bluntly exclaims in her article that GMOs are “FDA approved” ,but it is a much more problematic and complicated issue. Being approved by the FDA is a misleading way to phrase it, as being “approved” means that FDA has reviewed the GMO companies self-examination and analysis of its own product, but many of people in power in the FDA where former workers for the giant GMO companies like Monsanto and Hormel that probably wouldn’t might helping their old buddies . And the crazy thing is when GMOs first hit the market in the late 90s they didn’t do any special testing on them yet they said it was equivalent to natural food they even passed them with new a terminology as GRAS or generally recognized as safe. Obviously this practice it lead to one too many self serving actions for the GMO companies. Many former FDA members have raised red flags and spoken out about the corruption of the food industry, and with FDA being underfunded for long time now things don’t seem to change any time soon. Also you probably know that with most of the lobbying that happens that this is most likely not spent for the consumers safety as GMO companies spent millions to stop labeling and in 2012 the food industry spent over a whopping” 35 million dollars on a misinformation campaign” against California’s proposition 37.According to Charles they isn’t any reason why GMOs should be labeled but the truth is there is valid reason for suspicion for the approval of the FDA because underfunding of the FDA ,corruption of the food industry including lobbying and misinformation against the GMO labeling. Even though like Charles expressed the FDA approves many GMO foods there is some shady business that is going behind the curtain .
    Probably the most pragmatic reason for GMO labeling is that it’s a right for the people to know what exactly they are consuming. Why is it that America is the only western industrialized country that doesn’t require GMOs labeling? Of course ingredients are labeled and we know that calories are labeled. To dismay of many, the fast food companies had fought for years against the letting the consumer know if their foods had trans fat in it or not and even showing the amount calories. The meat packing industry fought against showing where the origin of the meat was. And the GMO companies like Monsanto are now fighting to stop labeling of their foods. But people deserve the right to know what they are consuming .Whether it is for a person to watch and manage their caloric intake or look and see if the ingredients in their food had a possible allergens or anything that is harmful to them they should have the right to konw .The consumer has a right to know these things so they can make a informed decision . People should have the right to know if a food is GMO product even if to avoid the consumption . Even though YOU say “labeling of GE foods would cause food prices to go up” that has to a untrue statement ,since it has no additional cost to the producer to label them as they change labels all the time thus meaning is shouldn’t have any extra cost to the consumer. To whatever extent you say that GMO labeling isn’t necessary is most certainly is because it is essential that the people know what they are putting in the bodies.
    The last sound reason why you wrong about GMO labeling ,is that in labeling GMO foods can only benefit the consumer not harm them. The reason why GMO aren’t labeled is due the companies trying to halt the consumers from demanding GMO labeling through misinformation and lobbying . And the truth is that GMO labeling isn’t going to increase the price of GMO food or anything ,it most probably wouldn’t even show a slight increase in natural food prices to the consumer. But many anti -GMO labeling people have raised an a good point a very important detail that there is a lack of understanding of the nature of genetically engineered foods. But the companies are worried that their many potential buyers are going to be off put by the idea of GMOs. And well that’s fine if the companies lose some money they should put the ethical and health factors before profits as they haven’t for more 2 decades of not labeling GMOs . Also in America the food industry has run berserk and its time they get a piece of their own medicine with good old fashioned supply and demand, if people don’t want to eat GMO foods that it’s their choice and labeling is needed for that.GMO labeling doesn’t harm the people not labeling does ,people deserve to know what is in the food. Its a irony claims when you say to the audience the ” college-educated, voting-aged citizens we should know the facts behind GE-food labeling” and well they should know that GMO labeling are beneficial to the people.