April 6, 2015

Is Genetically Altered Food Coming to Your Dinner Table?

A recent New York Times article discusses the controversy regarding genetically altered food.  The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that commercially planted non-browning apples and bruise-resistant potatoes were as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts, and the Agriculture Department approved these genetically altered fruits and vegetables for commercial planting after finding they did not harm other crops.

Nevertheless, consumer and environmental groups that opposed planting genetically modified crops are urging restaurants and food companies to not use them.  Moreover, some farmers and suppliers of natural apples fear that the approval of “biotech” apples will spoil the wholesome image of the fruit.  Finally, some opponents criticized the FDA’s review of the genetically engineered crops, arguing that the FDA did not thoroughly examine the data on genetically altered crops.  The FDA, however, countered that its evaluations were thorough.

A related debate concerns whether genetically altered food must be labeled as such.  Congress has not decided whether to require labels indicating that the food was genetically engineered or that the effects of such alterations are unknown. However, Connecticut law requires labeling, contingent on neighboring states adopting similar requirements.