Recently I was called to testify before a committee of the New Hampshire House of Legislators on the subject of labeling and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
I am not a scientist; I testified as a parent and as a consumer.
Labeling is important, not just for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) but for many things we bring into our homes from food to cleaning supplies and even materials for our gardens.
For me, reading labels when buying groceries for my family allows me to understand what I am bringing into our home. Not because I think it can cause cancer, but because I believe I have the right to know.
People in the United States live under the false impression that if something is legal, it is safe for humans and the environment.
Our history tells us just because it's on the shelf and for sale does not mean that it's safe. To the contrary, in our country, we have operated under the umbrella of it's safe until proven otherwise.
I choose foods that are in their purest form that have no additives--foods such as an apple. If I get prepared or processed foods, I opt for those with the short ingredient list.
But these days, even something as seemingly benign as an apple might have an untold story.
Why shouldn't I be able to know if that apple is the product of some genetic mutation? I am not interested in having the government or a special interest lobbyist insisting I do not need to know.
What is wrong with making an informed decision about something we ingest?
Having information up front is to live our lives proactively not reactively.
Through strategic marketing efforts in the social networks and on the web, the idea of labeling GMOs has been incorrectly spun to be a skull and crossbones by GMO promoters. If the products are as safe as they indicate, it should not be any different than listing any other ingredient such as sugar or flour.
Labels are not warnings but simply tools for identification.
Names are information labels.
However, we do see labels on many things that do not seem to slow sales; we see that on cigarettes and alcohol where not only are there labels but warnings, and sales are booming.
The need to know truth in no means makes the leap to placing a judgment on GMOs; it's just wanting to know enough truth for the consumer to identify the product.
Simply put, there is no downside to an informed consumer.
Is that really asking too much?