Push for GMO labels in Florida
Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 1, 2012 20:03
After failing to find support from the federal government to require labeling for food products containing genetically modified organisms, consumers are taking the fight for the right to know what they're eating to the state level.
In states like California and Vermont, moves to force companies to label GMOs are gaining traction. Florida should follow suit.
The advent of GMOs for mass human consumption is only a recent development in modern agriculture. Large biotechnology companies like Monsanto introduced genetically engineered plant seeds for use in large-scale commercial farming in the mid-1990s in order to improve crops, making them resistant to things like drought and herbicide.
But despite the widespread use of GMOs in the United States — 88 percent of U.S. corn and 94 percent of soybeans are now genetically altered — most Americans are unaware of the what they are really eating.
Today, about 80 percent of processed foods in America's grocery stores already contain genetically engineered ingredients, according to Grocery Manufacturers Association estimates cited by The Daily Beast.
At the same time, most European countries require GMOs to be labeled, and some go as far as to ban them altogether. And more than 90 percent of Americans said they want genetically engineered foods labeled in a 2010 Thomson Reuters poll.
Concerned consumers argue that genetically engineered foods are much different than organic foods. They talk of mutant tomatoes modified with the genes of an arctic flounder and "Bt-corn" designed to release its own insecticide. Is that really something innocuous enough to avoid a slight mention on the product's packaging?
Even the president vouched for labeling GMOs on the campaign trail in 2007. In a video posted on Mother Jones, President Barack Obama said he wanted to "let folks know when their food is genetically modified, because Americans should know what they're buying." But then, what was the president thinking when he appointed a former Monsanto executive to head the food safety division of the FDA?
In Vermont, state Rep. Kate Webb introduced the "VT Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," which would require labeling for products even partially created using GMOs. "It would also prohibit GMO food manufacturers from using promotional labels like ‘natural,'" according to ActivistPost.com
On the West Coast, voters could decide on the "California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act" if the ballot initiative for the measure gains the required amount of signatures by April, according to the Huffington Post.
Florida lawmakers should introduce similar legislation requiring labels for GMOs in our food. Consumers should have the right to know if a product labeled "all natural" really contains ingredients that originated in a laboratory, not in nature. We deserve the chance to make informed decisions about our diets.