Congress Takes on GMO Debate

A House committee is hearing legislation that would stop states from issuing their own laws requiring the labeling of genetically modified food and instead leave labeling up to the federal government. Since food sold in one state is almost always sold in other states, complying with a patchwork of different state laws doesn’t make much sense for businesses.

Of course, taking this power away from states has drawn a lot of opposition. Campaigns led by the Center for Food Safety and Environmental Working Group continue to misstate the facts about genetically modified foods and mischaracterize this legislation as preventing consumers from knowing important information for their health. You can check out our primer, “5 Things to Know About GMOs,” for our response to activists’ anti-science claims.

Labeling GMOs implies that these foods are somehow nutritionally different than conventional foods or pose a health risk. That’s simply not the case. There’s no credible research showing GMOs threaten human health and before any new GMO crop is approved, it’s reviewed extensively by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for safety.

Genetic modification has allowed farmers to use fewer chemicals on their crops while increasing yields—we can feed more people by using less land. Recent work has created a potato that can resist bruising (cutting down on food waste) and produce less acrylamide (a chemical created when potatoes are cooked at high heat); rice fortified with vitamin A (helping to reduce blindness and death from vitamin A deficiency); an apple that can resist browning when cut (cutting down on food waste).

GMOs have the potential to dramatically improve the way we farm and eat food. But activists don’t want to give scientists the freedom to improve crops even further. Instead, they’re scaring the American public about a threat to their health and environment that just doesn’t exist.