Many are not aware of the ongoing debate of whether or not products in grocery stores across the country should label their products in a way to provide consumer awareness regarding foods containing genetically modified ingredients. One statistic states, “an estimated sixty to seventy percent of processed foods in grocery stores contain at least one genetically engineered ingredient” (Byrne). This statistic reveals the prevalence of these ingredients found in grocery stores, yet the effects they have on the products Americans consume can be proven very minor.
Throughout various studies and research there are countless reasons why labelling these foods can be viewed as unnecessary. Genetically-modified foods should not have to be labeled because of the complex unresolved issues regarding which foods should be labelled, the expensive costs for the resources and technology required of labeling, and the fact that there are no significant differences between genetically modified food and non-genetically modified food.
While labelling might seem like a simple process, it has many complex issues that need to be resolved in order to create the necessary standards required to create a beneficial labelling system. What many do not realize is that in order to label these products effectively, we must develop standards that allow the labels to be equally and accurately distributed amongst all genetically modified foods. Certain questions must be answered, such as determining what percentage of genetically modified ingredients there are in a certain product in order for it to be considered for a label.
Debates over whether the percentage standards should be . 01% or 1% have been discussed, while other countries such as Japan have a minimum percentage rate of 5% (Byrne). In addition, the decision of labelling products produced from livestock that are fed genetically modified crops remains unanswered. This issue can be found irrelevant due to the fact that there is no difference found in meat, egg, or dairy products derived from GM fed livestock and non-GM fed livestock.
Overall, one can see that the idea of labeling genetically modified products is not only difficult, but an extremely controversial and undefined process. Outside of the cost of paper and ink for labelling, the technology required for the labelling of every GM food on the market would result in a significant price increase imposed on both the producer and consumer. An increased cost on food is an unnecessary expenditure that can easily be avoided if there simply was not a labeling policy that required producers to label genetically modified foods.
These high costs result from the extensive process of labelling that would begin with the farmer and end with the retailer. This process would need to include very detailed record-keeping and tests that would be required alongside producing the genetically modified foods. Other problems regarding the cost of these labels include the willingness of consumers to buy products containing these ingredients and the increase of costs on these products from the new labelling. Both of these dilemmas result in a negative effect on the manufacturer’s business and their respective products (Carter).
All in all, the price increases and substantial costs of creating these special labels would create a negative economic impact on both the buyer and seller. In addition to the unreasonable costs and logistical difficulties posed, the differences between the nutritional content of genetically modified food and the nutritional content of conventionally derived foods are found to be minuscule. Conventional foods can be defined as the crops grown on farms such as corn or sugar using herbicides or pesticides.
Throughout various tests on GM foods versus conventional foods, it has been proven that GM foods have no nutritional difference from conventional foods and do not place any greater effect on human health (Lawrence). Furthermore, the FDA already requires foods that do possess a significantly different nutritional value due to modifications must provide labelling that exposes the nutritional changes. Examples of circumstances where these labels would be mandatory are when they contain certain allergens that consumers would not expect or a toxin that could be harmful when excessively consumed is present (Byrne).
Labels on foods are used to notify consumers of when they are purchasing foods that are harmful to their health and genetically modified foods do not fall into that category. In short, placing these labels on all genetically modified foods is excessive due to the small differences they carry regarding their nutritional value and content. In conclusion, genetically modified foods should not have to be labeled to a certain degree because of the complex unresolved issues, the expensive costs for the resources and technology required for labeling, and the fact that there are no significant differences between genetically modified foods and conventional foods. These three key points argue that labelling these modified foods would result in undesirable effects on our economy beginning with the producers and ending with the people consuming these foods. Allowing the public to be conscious of when they are consuming these particular products might seem like a reasonable proposition, but the negative outcomes tremendously outweigh the benefits