Every year, the market for goods proliferates worldwide, while more manufacturers of various products, especially food, appear. This wide variety of products naturally raises suspicions about their quality. Goods made in the home country are often perceived as more reliable because they have passed the necessary certification and are subject to local laws, which cannot be said with certainty about foreign products. This is especially true in the context of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are found everywhere today. The pace of their spread and the many controversies surrounding this topic have led to mandatory labeling of such products at the state level in the United States and other countries (Sunstein 1043). Unfortunately, this decision did not end the debate about the need for labeling for GMOs. However, from my perspective, mandatory labeling of all genetically modified foods for manufacturers not only protects citizens’ rights but also makes buying groceries from stores safer. This opinion essay aims to analyze the situation with GMOs and to defend this thesis.
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GMOs are a controversial topic, to which there are very different approaches from scientific and social perspectives. Numerous scientific studies support their safety, while various media continue to spread myths about genetically modified organisms (Sunstein 1044). However, in this context, it seems to me more correct to consider the situation with GMO products from the point of view of morality and rights that people have. From my perspective, everyone has the right to know what exactly is in the food that they consume.
Food products these days are supplied from all over the world, and at the same time, may contain substances that are contraindicated for people with specific diseases. For this reason, there are labels on the products indicating their composition. In the case of, for example, people with lactose intolerance, it is not difficult to determine the presence of this component in a product. However, it is much more challenging to analyze the presence of GMOs due to their quantity. There are too many different elements in this category that it is not possible to learn. Therefore, first of all, simple labeling about the presence or absence of GMOs makes it easier for people to find the right products with specific components.
Although according to research, GMOs do not cause any harm to humans, every person still has the right to decide whether to consume genetically modified foods or not. This choice does not have to be dictated by health preservation requirements. Many other factors can influence such a decision, quite reasonably, without adherence to rumors or myths. The largest category of these is compliance with a person’s personal beliefs. For example, some religions may prohibit a person from consuming such products, so the individual should be able to make an informed choice when purchasing a product. On the other hand, GMO foods can go against the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
There are many such examples, but their essence remains unchanged. If people can choose products based on the composition and the presence or absence of critical components, for example, lactose or gluten, then a similar opportunity should be realized in the framework of GMOs. No one has the right to force a person to consume any food or component, including hiding its presence, if the person does not want it for one reason or another. In this context, labeling is consistent with respecting the individual’s personal right to choose whether to eat food with or without GMOs.
Finally, an additional factor in favor of such activities is the formation of a guarantor of product safety. Assigning a specific label to a product is a lengthy research and testing process. Similarly, for example, a marking is formed associated with a quality mark on a product or satisfaction of some standards. Consequently, the legislative need to indicate the presence of GMOs on a product is accompanied by the need to register the data of modified organisms. This, in turn, leads to a process of checking them for safety from a variety of points of view, which ultimately leads to the rejection of potentially harmful food. Thus, the introduction of labeling for GMOs is associated with the need to create particular quality standards that these products must meet. In this case, even if the product comes from an unusual place and does not inspire confidence at first glance, an official mark will help convince the buyer of the reliability of the product being sold.
In addition, the introduction of such labels may be helpful in the future. Measures to resolve this issue set a positive precedent that could benefit the entire society. Having achieved mandatory labeling of GMOs, the state and other official structures signal manufacturers of goods about the need to respect customers’ rights and comply with specific quality standards. A similar attitude can subsequently be extended to other elements since this will already be considered the norm.
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Thus, labeling on the presence or absence of GMOs on a product meets buyers’ interests at several levels. First of all, this allows food manufacturers to respect the rights of people about access to information about the composition of products. This approach is already widely used in other contexts, but the diversity and prevalence of GMOs make finding and analyzing their composition difficult for the average person. Secondly, it will allow observing the human right to free choice following the existing ideology. Finally, the introduction of mandatory product labeling for manufacturers will create conditions for safer production through multiple checks and serve as a precedent for respecting human rights in the future. Therefore, in my opinion, GMO labels are essential to food manufacturing, should be widely introduced and strictly regulated.
Sunstein, Cass R. “On Mandatory Labeling, With Special Reference to Genetically Modified Foods.” University of Pennsylvania Law Review, vol. 165, no. 5, 2017, pp. 1043–1095.