In a country that labels everything from cosmetics to cleaning agents, it’s surprising there are no laws in the U.S. requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods. Many other countries including Japan, Australia, the European Union and even China require labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Ninety-three percent of Americans believe GE foods should be labeled. The Just Label It campaign’s aim is to make GE labeling required in our country.
Businesses and organizations nationwide, including National Cooperative Grocers Association, have joined together in the Just Label It campaign to call on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling of GE foods. And now they’re asking consumers to tell FDA the same by lending their voice to the issue.
Genetically engineered (GE) foods ( also referred to as genetically modified foods, or GMOs) are, according to biotech company Monsanto, “Plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs.” Putting anti-freeze fish genes into tomatoes designed to resist cold temperatures or corn plants with a bacterial gene that tolerates increased herbicide use are examples of genetic engineering that could not happen naturally.
Hybridization and intragenic modification are examples of plant crossing that could occur naturally and are not a target of this campaign. Hybrids are created from the mating of different plant varieties or species to form a new plant (with specific characteristics such as a high yield, resistance to disease and drought, cold tolerance, etc.) and are considered a form of traditional plant breeding. Plants developed through intragenic modification, an extension of traditional plant breeding, cross plants at the gene level, but still use genes from within their own species. Both methods result in plants that could occur naturally.
While our reasons for wanting to know what’s in our food may vary, what unifies Americans is the belief that it’s our right to know. Without labeling of GE foods we cannot make informed choices about the food we eat.