Food Labels Need to Be Based on Sound Science, Not Fear

— Written By

By Janet Collins, Ph.D.
October 19, 2015

Food is an emotional topic. Parents want to know that the food they put on the table is safe and nutritious. As an industry, and as parents ourselves, we understand, appreciate and share that concern.

But in the context of driving a political agenda, anti-science interests are seeking to exploit fear about agricultural practices, including the use of pesticides, as justification for their campaign for mandatory labeling of foods derived from genetically modified (GM) crops. Their emotional arguments ignore both the practical use of pesticides in agriculture and important information about the science-based regulation of pesticides in the United States.

Our industry supports currently pending federal legislation that sets a uniform national labeling standard that prevents confusion and provides certainty for consumers in food labeling no matter where they live or shop. We believe that our nation’s food-labeling standards should be based on the best available science and that food labels should provide relevant, factual and useful information for consumers.

We’d like to set the record straight on these distortions and scary-sounding claims.

First, the use of pesticides is not limited to GM production. Organic, conventional and GM farmers use a variety of pesticides to control weeds, bugs and other pests on their fields. So it’s very important to understand that mandatory labeling of foods derived from GM crops would provide no useful or relevant information to consumers about whether a particular pesticide was used during production.

In the United States, all registered pesticide products undergo careful review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure they will pose no unreasonable risk to human health or the environment when used according to label instructions. EPA regulation of registered pesticides applies regardless of whether the registered pesticide will be used in organic, conventional or GM production.

One of the most commonly used pesticides in both conventional and GM agriculture is glyphosate, which is highly effective in controlling a broad range of weeds and enables the use of farming techniques that reduce erosion and improve soil health. The recent advertisements have made baseless accusations about the safety profile of glyphosate. We would like to set the record straight.

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