The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology issue paper 54, "The Potential Impacts of Mandatory Labeling for Genetically Engineered Food in the United States," examines arguments for and against the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, the costs involved with labeling and experiences in countries that use mandatory labeling. Led by Task Force Chair Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, the authors gather factual information to produce a peer-reviewed publication that clarifies the potential impacts of mandatory labeling.
Proponents of mandatory GE labeling cite the right to know what is in their food as an important attribute of a democratic society. Opponents think that such a label will increase the cost of food and confuse consumers with no corresponding improvement in human health or food safety. Seemingly contradictory studies are cited to support opposing views—informed discourse about this emotional issue is hard to find. This paper looks at key aspects of the argument including the following:
- Public opinion, polls and methods used
- Consumer choice and interpretations that support both sides
- Right-to-know issues
- Food safety and testing
- Legal and economic issues
The paper's authors finish with conclusions they pulled from their science-based research. They also call for better communication about this issue, and recommend that legislators and consumers should be provided with independent objective information to help move the national discussion from contentious claims to a more fact-based, informed debate.