Whole Foods is handing power over to the consumer.
As Stephanie Strom reported in the March 8 New York Times article, the 339 Whole Foods stores in the United States and Canada will require all products containing genetically modified ingredients to be labeled.
Some find this decision to give consumers information about what they’re buying absurd.
Some feel that labeling food as genetically modified (GM) food is pointless when no scientific studies have proven there are dangers associated with GM products.
Yes, considering the fact that only 20 years of research have gone into understanding the effects of GM food, it is completely understandable to say that we should take no precautionary stance against them. Especially since we are dealing with a farming technique that is completely uncontrollable. Cross pollination, seed relocation, no big deal. Who cares if evidence is inconclusive or ambiguous? I mean, no one’s DIED, have they? Who cares if we find out in 10, 50, 100 years that GM food has negative side effects on the earth and our bodies? By that time we’ll hopefully be dead and the GM seeds will be so ingrained in our agriculture that there’s nothing we can do about it. The kids will clean it up, they always do.
Some worry that labeling GM food would only give the consumer unnecessary worry and hurt GM food sales.
Yes, we should make a decision based on the concern that people are uneducated, uninformed, and incapable of thinking for themselves. If one customer is swayed by a label that they don’t understand, they all will be! Never mind the fact that a large percentage of the population has access to the internet and can do their own research on the risks (or lack thereof) of GM food. Never mind that people deserve honesty. Never mind the fact that this isn’t 18th century America where only wealthy white landowners can decide anything. Deceit is preferable to a person’s potential for stupidity.
Some argue that if customers are scared by the GM label, the boycotting of GM food will hurt farmers.
Yes, hurting farmers seems to be a big concern for companies that sell genetically modified seeds, especially since farmers who violate controversial seed patents are sued thousands of dollars. Letting the public have an honest understanding of the food they’re buying might hurt the farmer who is already crippled by the American food industry that demands an endless supply of faster and cheaper. Not labeling GM food is definitely the right path to valuing the American farmer.
Hopefully other food sellers won’t follow the dangerous example of being honest about what is in a product. If they do, we might find we have too much on our plate.