What’s Next for Food Labels?

soybeans

Should foods containing biotechnology-enhanced ingredients be labeled? That’s the key question in an ongoing debate taking place at polling places around the United States. Bills requiring mandatory labeling have been introduced in Congress, and there have also been attempts to place citizens’ initiatives on statewide and local ballots.

On one side of the debate are consumers who emphasize their right to know what’s in their food. On the other side are opponents who say expense and logistical challenges make labeling unrealistic and unnecessary. Opponents also cite FDA’s current decision to label foods produced using biotech ingredients only if the food has a significantly different nutritional property or if the food includes an allergen that consumers would not expect to be present.

The national soy checkoff distributes information that helps support understanding of this important science.

“Biotechnology is a key component of U.S. soybean farmers’ ability to continue to produce a sustainable supply of food, feed and fuel,” said Richard Fordyce, chair of the United Soybean Board’s Freedom to Operate Action Team and a soybean farmer from Bethany, Mo. “The soy checkoff provides information on the safety and benefits of soy improved through the use of biotechnology, which is important to maintaining access to global markets.”

In research conducted last year, the partially checkoff-funded Center for Food Integrity found that after given educational information, consumers surveyed not only have a greater understanding of biotech, but also a more positive attitude toward the science. The study also offered insight into which facts and messages, when shared with consumers, seem to matter to them most:

  • Consumers have eaten billions of meals and snacks containing ingredients from genetically modified (GM) crops without any evidence of illness or harm.
  • Leading health and medical organizations around the world agree that GM crops are safe to eat.
  • The use of GM crops helps keep food affordable.