Organic Farmers Bank on GMO Labels

Organic farmers across the country are supporting a variety of state bills that would mandate the labeling of genetically modified organisms and food, hoping that increased consumer awareness will help their sales.

Current Food and Drug Administration regulations list genetically modified food as safe for human consumption and say that they pose no greater risk than traditionally grown food. As such, there is no federal mandate to label modified foodstuffs. Opponents of these labels argue that modified foods are safe and labeling regulations would add unnecessary production costs to their food.

Organic farmers, however, see labels and increased consumer awareness as a golden opportunity for their businesses. Over the last few years, with increased public scrutiny of large-scale agribusinesses and increased media coverage of genetically modified food, organic farming has picked up with sales across the country increasing dramatically. Organic farmers are also ratcheting up the pressure, lobbying legislatures in 18 states to mandate genetically modified food labels.

According to many organic farmers, these labels serve an important role in educating consumers. In the words of one New York farmer, “The consumer for the most part doesn’t even know what genetically engineered crops are. This would be more of an education for them.” They also argue that labeling modified foods will make American products more competitive in the European Union, where strict guidelines have been imposed mandating the labeling of genetically modified organisms.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer