Saturday, March 10, 2012


Are genetically modified foods and ingredients absolutely safe for human consumption? Probably with the present conflicting claims and interests of pressure groups and lack of critical volume of data in human experiments, it is doubtful whether even "God" himself can answer this vexing question with any reasonable degree of certainty! Keeping aside the issue of safety, those who permit GM foods in their country can at least be transparent with their citizens by declaring on the label about the use of such unnatural ingredients in formulated foods. This is what American citizens are asking of their government for the last several years. So far the American government has not budged from its stand that GM foods are safe and consumers must "believe" them. But winds of change are blowing across this country and the people are "forcefully" demanding for such regulatory labeling to which Government has to bow eventually. Here is the latest on this issue.

"Thousands of products in the typical American grocery store, from cereals to corn chips, contain genetically modified ingredients. But the average shopper wouldn't know it from their labels. Many companies in the food and biotechnology industry, including Creve Coeur-based Monsanto Co., want to keep it that way. But they'll have to fend off a growing push for labels on genetically modified products that's gaining traction in Washington and state capitals. At least 18 states are now considering laws that would make the labels mandatory, including Illinois and California, the country's biggest market. Earlier this year, pro-labeling advocates marched from New York to Washington. Late last fall, about 500 groups, including some of the country's biggest consumer organizations, banded together as the Just Label It campaign. Also last fall, the Washington-based Center for Food Safety filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, calling for the agency to require labels. As of this week, the petition had 850,000 signatures of support, the most ever for a federal food petition. "Fifty countries have mandatory labeling. We're one of the only developed countries that doesn't. GMOs are labeled in China, Russia. Why would consumers in those countries have this information and we not have it here?" said Megan Westgate, executive director of the the Non-GMO Project, a group that verifies and labels products as free of genetically altered ingredients. "It feels like we're at this tipping point where a lot more Americans are concerned about this."

Is it not funny that the very same government insists on labeling a product treated with gamma radiation though more than 65 countries have cleared food irradiation process as safe beyond any shadow of doubt? Double standards? Of course! If there were a lobby for irradiation process as powerful as that advocating GM technology for producing foods, Government would not have made labeling mandatory for irradiated foods. While debating on this issue, the views of the protagonists who believe that GM technology only can achieve quantum jump in food production in coming years should not be unilaterally shunned and with the present pace of scientific development there may be a possibility that the technology may gain universal acceptance in future. Till such time citizens must be given the choice to buy or not to buy GM foods through clear labeling.


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