May 8, 2015
Do you ever not know which side of the table you are supposed to sit on? It happens to me a lot – I ask a question, see answers from both sides and find myself nodding in agreement…with everyone!
Oregon Measure 92, a GMO labeling initiative, failed by 51% last week. In, Colorado Proposition 105 to label GMOs failed by 66% -- not exactly an overwhelming majority for or against labeling.
Even within agriculture, there are arguments on both sides of the GMO labeling debate. If we as an industry cannot agree on what information is needed on a label, how can we expect a consumer to not be confused?
GMO Labels: So, which side of the table do I sit? I just want to be able to sit at the same table, understand what's going on and discuss it like rational adults.
I went to social media for answers. Within moments I had many responses, many good arguments for and against GMO labeling.
"I am pro labeling – voluntary labeling, like is done for gluten-free products because a mandatory label signals a safety or nutrition difference and most GMOs don't have a difference there. I think most of the efforts we have seen have amounted to a warning label and the FDA has looked at all this in great detail and found no warnings are needed." - Janice Person, consumer, advocate and Monsanto employee
"Con, until the correct info is out there and understood by the consumer. If that were to happen it would be a pro so everyone can make their own food choices." - Matthew Boucher, farmer
"Con. I just can't get past labeling a process, especially a well-tested and safe one. Products don't carry a label saying there were produced by any other breeding technique, so why start now?" - Peggy Greenway, farmer
But I think my good friend, self-proclaimed policy junkie and mom, Leah Beyer, said it best:
"Nutrition labels are used to help people make nutrition decisions and avoid ingredients they are allergic to. GMOs have the same nutrition and no separate allergies. The marketing labels are just that. Marketing. If it is GMO-free, there will be a marketing label to tell you."
"In retrospect, we should have printed a "may contain GMOs" statement like they do with soy, dairy, peanut, etc. It would have not been a big deal and something consumers are used to seeing and not being scared of today." – Leah Beyer
But, I am still left with questions. What percentage of food in a grocery store would have to be labeled? Would a restaurant have to label dishes that include GMO ingredients? And how much would this cost all of us consumers to have this labeling done?
I heard from farm people, and I already knew how "the squeaky wheel" felt, but where does the average consumer stand? Are they more confused than I am? How much of the story are they getting, and are the sources reliable? And do they even know what a GMO is?
Share your thoughts below in the comments section.
Are you interested in the GMO discussion? Penton Farm Progress Special Projects Editor Holly Spangler this summer explored GMO foods, GMO labeling and the general genetically modified food debate in an exclusive series. Follow the links below for more.
The opinions of Jennifer Campbell are not necessarily those of Indiana Prairie Farmer or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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