The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Modified foods cause labeling concerns

    Renee Rosenow

    Senior Corey Hilber summed up his feelings on genetically modified organisms in one simple statement.

    “You can’t trust a tomato anymore,” he said.

    Hilber’s comment pertains to the United States labeling system.

    According to the Food and Drug Administation, there must be something tangibly different about the food product, not the food making process, for the FDA to require labeling.

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    In contrast, the European Union requires labeling of all GMO products. According to the EU, they developed legal framework to deal with GMOs. The framework was set up in order to make sure the development of modern biotechnology and GMOs are completely safe.

    Junior Jasmine Wiley said she thinks GMO labels should be required in the United States.

    “I think the first step is to let people know, then they can make the choice and it’s kind of an eat at your own risk,” she said.

    The New England Journal of Medicine published a report concerning one possible risk.

    Their study shows allergens from allergenic foods can be transmitted into another food due to genetic engineering. In the report, researchers inserted a gene from a Brazil nut into transgenic soybeans.

    While these transgenic soybeans were not put on the market, the report does highlight the possibility of transferring allergenic genes.

    Assistant professor of biology Derek Gingerich said he does not see this as a major concern.

    Gingerich admits it is possible to pass on an allergic reaction, but he said these products are heavily tested and the possibility of it happening is really low.

    “Scientists nowadays have pretty good ideas of what types of proteins cause allergic reactions,” he said.

    Gingerich further explained GMO technology is more or less safer than a classically bred food.

    “GMOs undergo more testing and are under more stringent regulation then classically bred foods are,” he said.

    Gingerich also addressed the EU’s required labeling.

    “In Europe, labeling is done based on what is perceived to be the sentiments of the population,” he said.

    Assistant professor of geology Joseph Hupy, who is in favor of labeling, questions the method used in the EU.

    “Europe is not the gold standard,” Hupy said. “A lot of the backlash you are seeing with GMOs was a lobbying effort by the farmers over there – it was a way to freak people out and not to buy American goods, it was almost as a protectionism thing.”

    Hupy said he thinks a better national labeling system would be to describe the effect the GMO has on the food.

    “It just comes down to personal choice, how well educated people are to what GMO actually means,” Wiley said, “and if they are okay with what that means in the food.”

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    Modified foods cause labeling concerns