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Your Take: Should We Label Genetically Modified Food?

One of the big issues these days, at least concerning food, has to do with genetically modified food. It gets mentioned a few times in the news from a food safety and consumption perspective but most often it is an financial issue for farmers. For years, farmers have been using genetically modified seed from companies like Monsanto to boost yields. The crops they grow are more resistant to the types of things that kill them. Most people are OK with corn that’s been modified to be heartier. Most people are OK with that corn being fed to cows, which then ultimately become our steaks, meatloafs, and hamburgers. In fact, according to BIO [3], a trade group, about 90% of corn, cotton, soybeans, and sugar beets grown in the United States is genetically engineered.

So there’s a big fight over labeling, whether we need to label products that are modified, and whether it’s fair to those producers. I think of genetically engineered food in the same way that I see more conventionally “modified” products – it’s OK. We cross pollinate and cross breed crops all the time, genetic engineering is not much different. I’m fine (I think – I haven’t done as much research on it) with lab grown meat too, though I trust that less than GMO corn or soybeans.

My feelings about genetically modified seed is different than my feelings about the business practices of the companies that created them, such as Monsanto. What they’re doing is great from a capitalism perspective (good for shareholders) but I believe it’s less great for humanity as a whole.

That said, I think labeling must be a requirement. Consumers need to know what they’re buying and they need to decide for themselves. If you don’t want GMO’d food, you shouldn’t have to dig and pry to find out if it’s been modified in a way that goes against what you believe to be safe. GMO’d food will prove to be a cheaper option, in the same way “organic” foods are more expensive now. Modification boosts yields, thus driving down costs, and so those who don’t use it will have to charge a premium to compete.

(Credit: kaibara87 [4])