The editors of the New York Times have
produced a remarkably sensible editorial that agrees with what we
here at Reason have been arguing for years. ; The
editorial asks, “Why
Label Genetically Engineered Foods?”and concludes that there is
no good reason to do so:
Whole Foods Market caused a stir last week when it announced
that it would require all products sold in its stores in the United
States and Canada to carry labels indicating whether they
contain genetically modified ingredients by 2018. Food advocacy
groups hailed its action as a possible “game changer” that would
push the entire food industry to adopt similar labels.
Any private company has the right to require its suppliers to
meet labeling standards it chooses to set, and consumers have a
right to know what’s in the food they are buying. But there is no
reliable evidence that genetically modified foods now on the market
pose any risk to consumers.
The Food and Drug Administration says it has no basis for
concluding that foods developed by bioengineering techniques
present different or greater safety concerns than foods developed
by traditional plant breeding. Nevertheless, bills are pending in
several states to require mandatory labeling of genetically
modified ingredients (a referendum to compel such labeling was
narrowly defeated in California last November). For now, there
seems little reason to make labeling compulsory.
Consumers can already find products free of genetically
engineered ingredients, with labels voluntarily placed by the
For those who want to avoid such ingredients, the surest way is
to buy products certified as “organic” under federal standards.
They contain no genetically engineered ingredients, or at most
inadvertent trace amounts.
See also, my article, “The
Top Five Lies About Biotech Crops.”
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