OPINION: Consumers deserve to know what’s on their dinner plates
Every day we are confronted with the choice of what to feed ourselves and our families. We try to make decisions based on the information available for the food products we are buying. Unfortunately, we can’t choose to avoid or purchase genetically engineered food products, or GMOs, because they are not labeled. We are left in the dark about the food we put on our dinner plates.
There is no state law that requires the labeling of GMOs, so even if we want to avoid them we don’t have an option.
Dozens of food items in the grocery store contain GMOs that could potentially pose risks to the human body. Yet, without a label, we don’t know which items contain them and which do not.
Unless the New York state legislature passes a mandatory GMO labeling bill, we have no way of knowing whether or not the apple in our shopping cart has been genetically altered.
Right now, our elected officials in Albany, including Brooklyn Assemblymember Erik Dilan, are considering bill A.617 to mandate GMO labeling. But big food and beverage companies, like Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola, are trying to defeat the bill and keep consumers from having this information.
Instead of delaying the bill and giving in to corporate interests, lawmakers should move this bill forward and shed light on what consumers are buying.
The corporations claim that GMOs do not pose any health risks and that they are the same as their counterparts. If this were the case, then why are they trying to keep consumers in the dark about what we eat?
They also claim that GMO labeling will be too expensive and drive up food prices. This is absolutely false. In countries where labeling is mandatory there has been no noticeable impact on costs or food prices.
Corporations are spending millions of dollars fighting against a labeling requirement because they are only concerned about their profits and will do whatever they can do avoid identifying and labeling their food products as GMOs.
As consumers, we have a right to know what we are buying to feed ourselves and our families. A GMO label would help us make the decision to either buy a genetically engineered food item or not. Despite over 90 percent of Americans supporting GMO labeling, the U.S. lags behind 64 countries that already require the labeling of GMOs.
Our elected officials now have the opportunity to stand up to the special interests and prioritize transparency by supporting the GMO-labeling bill.
Assemblymember Dilan should support consumers’ right to be informed about their purchases and become a co-sponsor of this bipartisan legislation. Consumers’ rights and health depends on it.
–Meagan Wills is a Brooklyn College student majoring in psychology.
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