Berginski: To label, or not to label?
A friend of mine sent me an article talking about eight beers I, as a consumer, should not be drinking. Somehow, whoever wrote it found out that some of the beers on said list, which include popular staples like Coors Light, Miller Light and Budweiser, contained genetically modified grains, corn syrup (made from genetically modified corn) and other things.
I still don’t know how the writer of that article found out about genetically modified ingredients in certain kinds of beer. But then again, these genetically modified foods (or GMO’s as they’re sometimes called) could be anywhere and in anything. You could’ve bought them in a grocery store without even knowing. You could be, as you’re reading this, eating or drinking them right now! The question is, does the consumer have a right to know if their foods were once science projects?
GMO’s have been the subjects of scientific studies and intense debate. On the one hand we could have food crops that could withstand diseases, toxins and insects. On the other we could have weeds and noxious plants with the same traits. On one hand you could have foods made even more nutritious and healthier. On the other you could have a whole bunch of new food allergies arise, or a lot of other nasty possibilities that can’t yet be proven.
Both supporters and opponents of genetically modified foods have been using the results of scientific studies to form flawed conclusions. For example, there was a study done in which rats were fed two different kinds of potatoes; the control group was fed normal potatoes while the other group was fed potatoes with a lectin gene in them. The group that ate the GMO potatoes died. The study was criticized because the lectin in the GMO potatoes was toxic to mammals, the potatoes were not meant for human consumption and because rats are (obviously) biologically different from humans. Does that really mean GMO’s are totally safe or totally harmful? No, because not all the facts are there.
Another trouble with GMO’s is that they can reproduce, just like any other plant. Bees take a little pollen here, pollinate a plant somewhere else that wasn’t modified and voila, a hybrid! Get enough plant babies and who’s to say which plants were and weren’t genetically modified?
Should we label products containing GMO’s? If that’s what consumers want, then sure. While we’re at it, if consumers want a brief schpeel about how their foods were modified, why not put it on there? If it’s affordable and tastes good, someone will buy it. The only catch is that some who want foods containing GMO’s labeled as such have no intention of buying those products anyway, and they’ve decided with their wills and wallets.
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