Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

December 5, 2013

A look at what others are saying

(Continued)

That effort hit a roadblock recently when a legislative committee in New Hampshire voted against a labeling bill, giving it an uphill climb to pass in the full Legislature. But a pro-labeling movement is growing strong across the country, backed by polls that show public opinion strongly in its favor.

Opponents of GMO labeling argue that the science surrounding the health effects of GMOs is inconclusive and that a label would confuse consumers.

That’s an interesting point, especially coming from companies that label products “all-natural” when they are anything but. New labels enter the marketplace all the time, and we should have enough confidence in the consumer to figure out what they mean, and why they matter.

As for the science, it is unclear. First, much of the complex testing is done by the producers themselves, with only cursory oversight by the Food and Drug Administration. Second, genetic engineering in food cannot be pigeonholed. Proving that using one type of gene in one food for one purpose is safe does not mean that the use of all types in all circumstances is, too.

There is more to learn about the long-term implications of using GMOs. In some uses, GMOs could help ease hunger by increasing yields, though we would caution that hunger has social and political causes outside of food abundance. In other cases, GMOs could be harmful.

That study should continue, so we know more about the complex interplay of the GMOs and our natural foods. At the same time, states should implement a GMO labeling system, perhaps with a push from the federal government, so that we know exactly what we are buying at the grocery store.

— The Portland (Maine) Press Herald

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