Genetically Modified Food Labeling

gmo free marshmallowsConsumer responses and public attitudes are the factors that will define the role of genetic modification in our society in the long run. So it’s important to look at public responses and attitudes towards biotechnology applied to agriculture and food. One of the major issues is the labeling and packaging of GM foods.

How would you know that what you eat is genetically modified?

You can’t taste, see, or smell that your potato or rice has been genetically engineered. But you can check the packaging whether it is genetically altered or contains ingredients that are genetically modified. That is because some countries require genetically engineered food to be labeled.

What countries require GM food to be labeled?

Several countries require food manufacturers to label GM food products. Each country tolerates a certain level of GM before a food must be labeled as modified. For Instance, Australia and the European Union allow up to 1% of any ingredient in a food to be genetically engineered before it must be packaged as genetically altered. In Japan a food gets a GM label if 5% of any of its ingredient are genetically modified.

What about the United States?

At present, the United States doesn’t require compulsory labeling of GM food product. Also, it has yet to set standards as to what percentage of an ingredient can be genetically engineered for it to be labeled GM or non-GM.

What exactly does "GMO-free" on GM food labels mean?

Many companies use this term on food labels to indicate that a food is free of GM organisms developed using biotechnology. "GMO-free" is an industry term that has made its way into day-to-day conversations. It is confusing, though. This is because its definition and the way it’s being used on packaged food labels are not essentially the same.

Importance of labeling GM foods

An effective and successful labeling strategy for GM foods is impossible unless we develop precise traceability mechanisms to identify where GM ingredients are in the food chain. Regulatory and scientific inability to map out GM food products from fields to tables may act to lessen public confidence regarding food security. So in order to increase consumer confidence and trust in GM food products, information about improved traceability methods should be provided.

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