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GMO Labeling

Regulations in Place: By Region

Voluntary: Canada and the U.S.
Mandatory: The European Union, Australia, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan

Pro and Anti-GMO Labeling Arguments

Pro-labeling Arguments

  • Consumers have a right to know what’s in their food, especially concerning products for which health and environmental concerns have been raised.
  • Mandatory labeling will allow consumers to identify and steer clear of food products that cause them problems, such as potential allergens.
  • Surveys indicate that a majority of Americans support mandatory labeling. However, such surveys often do not specify the effect on food prices.
  • At least 21 countries and the European Union have established some form of mandatory labeling.
  • For religious or ethical reasons, many individuals want to avoid eating animal products, including animal DNA.

Anti-labeling Arguments

  • Labels on Genetically Modified foods imply a warning about health effects, whereas no significant differences between GM and conventional foods have been detected. If a nutritional or allergenic difference were found in a GM food, current FDA regulations require a label to that effect.
  • Labeling of GM foods to fulfill the desires of some consumers would impose a cost on all consumers. Experience with mandatory labeling in the European Union, Japan, and New Zealand has not resulted in consumer choice. Rather, retailers have eliminated GM products from their shelves due to perceived consumer aversion to GM products.
  • Consumers who want to buy non-GM food are already presented with alternatives: to purchase certified organic foods, which by definition cannot be produced with GM ingredients.
  • The food system infrastructure (storage, processing, and transportation facilities) in the United States could not currently accommodate the need for segregation of GM and non-GM products.
  • Consumers who want to avoid animal products need not worry about GM foods. None of the GM products currently on the market or under review are reported to contain animal genes. (However, there is no guarantee that this will not change in the future.)

Labeling Recommendations


  • Education
  • Freedom of choice
  • Transparency
  • Safety precaution
  • Decreasing tension, fear and uncertainty


  • Bacteria or yeast and the strain used
  • The role of the bacteria or yeast in the original (non genetically modified) product
  • The modification made to the bacteria or yeast
  • Reason for modification and what was accomplished through this modification
  • Potential allergens introduced into the products
  • Strong Recommendation: Include a QR code through which consumers can read more about the specific genetic modification


  • “Genetic Modification” must specifically refer to biotechnology and be defined as such: natural breeding may have occured
  • “GMO-Free” is essentially impossible to prove, better worded as: “Not using ingredients produced using biotechnology”
  • The phrase “This [insert product name] was not genetically engineered” might be misleading and adversely imply that other similar products are genetically engineered.


  • GM additives must be labeled accordingly following the same regulations
  • Biotechnologically modified products that do not contain any GM material in the final stage need not be labeled
  • Foods produced or taken from species with GM feed need not be labeled as long as GM material is not present in the final product
  • Foods containing less than 0.9% GMO products need not be labeled



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