Genetically modified crops is a very highly opinionated topic for almost all consumers and producers. Some people are strongly pulled in either direction, with very few who fall in the middle as far as anti-GM or in support of GM crops. While some of these consumers are educated on what a GMO actually is and what crops are actually genetically modified, others are not educated and can easily fall victim to false information and advertising tricks.
There are in fact only 10 genetically modified crops grown and they are: cotton, soybeans, corn, squash, papaya, alfalfa, sugar beets, canola, potatoes, and apples. An uneducated consumer would probably disagree with the previous statement, but there are actually only 10 genetically modified crops. So when a customer goes into a grocery store and buys GMO free bananas, GMO free bread, and GMO free rice, although it is free of genetic modification, there was never a chance for it to be genetically modified because GM bananas, wheat, and rice are not a thing. This concept is heavily used for marketing tactics for many products. The misconception and lack of education on what is actually genetically modified and what is not, will continue to be the basis of many problems in the food & fiber industry.
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. Currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S. include soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets, corn etc… One of the biggest controversies in the food world today is determining whether food products containing genetically modified ingredients should be labeled so. The argument for labeling comes down to the right to know: Consumers should be well informed of what’s in their food.
One of the cons of labeling food products that contain genetically modified ingredients is that the majority of consumers have no idea what GMO means or they see other products that are labeled Non-GMO so they think if a product is genetically modified it must be some terrible thing. Therefore, food manufacturers hesitate to label their products in fear that sales will go down. There needs to be outreach and educational programs for consumers to learn more about GMOs. This is tricky for food producers to do because consumers might not believe information that is coming directly from them.
Another reason food producers advocate for keeping GMO labels off food products is how expensive it would be for them to change their labels for maybe one or two states that require it. Also, adding genetically modified to a label suggests that the food might cause health problems. This is exactly what anti-GMO and organic food marketers want consumers to think. Labeling food products genetically modified will be more expensive for the company and if consumers don’t know what GMO means it provides no useful information to them
All the disadvantages aside, consumers should be well informed of what’s in their food. I firmly believe that food producers need to be open and honest about what they are putting in their food, it’s the first step in creating trust between them and the consumer. However, I do understand their hesitation, with so many consumers being uneducated it wouldn’t be a smart move, financially. Labeling genetically modified products might be what food producers need to show consumers that they want to create a stronger relationship by being transparent with the public knowing that it might affect their sales negatively.