Consumers, demand labels on genetically altered food
Published 4:37 pm, Monday, March 25, 2013
The following is from an editorial in the San Jose Mercury News:
A California ballot measure last fall to require labeling of
genetically engineered foods was poorly drafted and, fortunately, failed
at the polls. But we hoped the market would force transparency in the
sale of genetically altered foods, and sure enough, it's beginning: This
week, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and some other retailers announced they
would not sell genetically engineered seafood in their stores.
AquaBounty Technology of Massachusetts won provisional approval by the Food and Drug Administration
in December for its AquaAdvantage salmon. The fish carries a gene that
makes it grow twice as fast as Atlantic salmon. The FDA will issue its
final report on what would be the first genetically engineered fish sold
in U.S. stores after the 60-day public comment window closes April 26.
The FDA has not indicated that it would require the fish to be labeled.
Whole Foods, which has more than 300 stores, announced Wednesday that
it will require labels for all food containing genetically modified
ingredients beginning 2018. So while Proposition 37 failed, the movement
toward labeling is under way.
The National Academy of Sciences, World Health Organization and American Medical Association
agree that no one has proved any risk from modified foods. But the
products are relatively new, and the long-term effects of eating them
haven't been tested.
Genetically engineered food is labeled in
Europe and other parts of the world. It should be labeled in the United
States. And it will, if consumers demand it.
Clearly, Whole Foods
is responding to consumer preferences. Other stores will need to demand
labeling or else give up customers to stores that do.