I’m writing in response to “Another View: States’ GMO labeling laws likely to frighten, not inform, consumers” (July 21). I find it insulting to tell consumers that GMO labels will frighten, not inform, them.
Food companies in some 60 other countries are required to state that a product contains GMOs, yet there is no evidence that consumers in those countries are confused. Are we to believe that Americans are less intelligent than consumers in countries like Russia, China or the UK, where mandatory labeling laws exist?
I can’t imagine a consumer who would be more confused by a label stating “contains GMOs” than by a label stating “contains L-Cysteine Monohydrochloride” or “Microcrystalline Cellulose.”
Yet the law requires manufacturers to disclose those ingredients. Consumers are led to believe those ingredients are safe, otherwise the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wouldn’t allow them in our food.
Food companies routinely and intentionally mislead consumers. The most glaring example is the use of the word “natural” on food labels, a practice intended to attract health-conscious consumers.
The FDA doesn’t prohibit the use of the word “natural” on labels, regardless of what a product contains – including GMOs, which, by definition, are derived from plants that “do not occur in nature.”
According to market research by the Hartman Group, 61 percent of respondents erroneously believed that “natural” implies the absence of GMOs, versus 63 percent who correctly believed that only the label “organic” means a product is GMO-free.
If companies believe their GMO ingredients are safe, why spend millions to keep from having to label them? Maybe it’s because, as a seed executive for a Monsanto subsidiary admitted 20 years ago, “If you put a label on genetically engineered food, you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.”
associate director, Organic Consumers Association