Your Opinion: Require mandatory labeling for foods containing GMOs

Dear Editor:

Millions of Americans are concerned about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) making their way into our food supply undetected. Many scientists and researchers are alarmed at the possible effects of long term ingestion of GMOs by humans. Over 20 countries around the world, including the European Union and China, have mandatory labeling laws for any food containing GMOs. Polls consistently show that 90 percent of Americans support mandatory labeling laws in the U.S. yet Congress, the USDA and the FDA refuse to act.

Navigating the grocery store aisles in search of truly healthy food can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know exactly what to look for. As many as half of all shoppers are still confused by the terms “natural” and “all natural,” falsely believing them to imply that a food item is free of GMOs.

Several recent polls have determined that 50 percent of shoppers from varying backgrounds and income levels falsely believe that “natural” foods automatically contain no GMOs. As can be expected, this assumption lies in the obvious fact that GMOs are not natural, and thus would not feasibly be found in foods bearing such a label.

According to the Rodale Institute, the USDA’s guidelines for “natural” foods are ambiguous at best, and the term can be used voluntarily by food companies at their own discretion, with no anchoring to any set of standardized guidelines.

And while the USDA web site states that all natural claims “should be accompanied by a brief statement which explains what is meant by the term natural,” this requirement is hardly enforced. Unlike certified organic products, “natural” products are not required to be GMO-free, nor are they necessarily required to be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Even among those who said they regularly purchase organic food, 41 percent indicated their belief that “natural” foods are GMO-free.

If you think we have a right to know what’s in our food the answer is clear. We must demand mandatory labeling laws from Congress for all GMOs in our food and we must continue until our demands are met. Nothing else will suffice.

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