GM Food: Labelling in America

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Obama promises to label GMOs

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Panel Discussion about GMO Labeling (Mercola.com)

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People need more than just the labelling of GM foods: A response to 'Obama promises to label GMOs' 


Introduction

In America, in 2011, there are calls for GM food to be labelled.  Whereas, in Britain the Food Standards Agency makes sure that GM food is labelled. 

Main outline

The top video suggests that greater intervention is needed in addition to industry labelling.  Labelling is just the first stage of a process to restore the American public’s confidence in food safety.

The concern with labelling is that, on its own, it can leave consumers as passive recipients of food safety information. This is a problem given food safety emergencies such as BSE.  Consumers were unaware of inconsistencies in labelling policies

Moreover, food labels were of little value to UK consumers given re-assurances from Ministers over BSE.  

Given these problems with labelling a number of possible solutions are outlined in the video:

1) Academic papers need to be freely available to the public.  This could help the public to understand the food that they are eating better.

2) The public need to be involved and need to visit research centres, so that they can be better informed.  Citizens are active now and need access to what research is being undertaken and how it has been carried out.

3) The public needs to decide what agricultural research is funded.  Given that it is public that is eating the food, then it is they that should decide what food technologies are developed.  It is inappropriate for biotechnology companies to follow a 'production orientation'.  

This is where the needs of customers are secondary compared with the need to increase output.  In this case, a product is being developed without prior consumer interest.

4) To improve consumer choice, people on low incomes could be given food vouchers.  With such choice, low income consumers could avoid being forced to eat genetically modified food because of a cheap price.

It would also be useful for decisions on genetically modified food to be delegated to a local level so that people have more autonomy.  Decision-making at a national level could have the effect of disenfranchising consumers.

Conclusion


The UK Food Standards Agency has better policies on GM food than in America.  The UK F.S.A. acknowledges the need for labelling.

However, the need for greater public input into food safety policy, as discussed above, suggests that it too could improve.



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