Masters Thesis

An applied research study to determine if GMO food labeling should be mandatory in the U.S.

Genetic engineering (GE) involves the manipulation of genes in the lab to create new varieties of plants, animals, and organisms with desired characteristics. Most consumers in the United States are not aware of the amount of GE ingredients in the food they consume. In 2012, GE soybeans accounted for 93 percent of all soybeans planted, and GE corn accounted for 88 percent of corn planted. Most of the GE plants are used to make ingredients that are then used in other food products, such as corn starch in soups and sauces, corn syrup used as a sweetener, corn oil, canola oil and soybean oil in mayonnaise, salad dressings, breads, snack foods, and sugar from sugar beets in various foods. Consumers are concerned that they have been consuming GE foods without their knowledge, and unsure if the GE foods are safe. Consumer polls consistently show that the public would prefer that GE foods be labeled, so that they can decide for themselves whether they should consume these foods. The FDA regulation of these foods is only a voluntary process in which the producer of the food does their own testing and provides the information to the FDA. The FDA does no testing of the foods. There is worldwide controversy about the safety of GE foods. Over 60 other countries have mandatory labeling, and more stringent risk assessments with independent testing. The purpose of this study was to determine the need for mandatory labeling. The study suggests that GE foods be disclosed to consumers by a product label that provides that information accurately. The study also determined which lawmakers are interested in the regulation. In the U.S., states have been interested in having their own mandatory labeling laws, and a few have passed their own laws. Many states have pending legislation in 2016. It is recommended that the FDA improve upon the antiquated regulatory process regarding GE foods to suit consumer needs. Update the FDA’s regulatory process from voluntary to mandatory, and require additional safety testing from the FDA or an independent source prior to approval of GE foods. Add long-term studies to give a risk management process which would add to transparency.

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