Should Labeling of Genetically Modified Food Be Mandatory?

Should Labeling of Genetically Modified Food Be Mandatory?
Should Labeling of Genetically Modified Food Be Mandatory?

(HealthDay News) — The United States should reconsider labeling of genetically modified (GM) food, according to a perspective piece published in the August 20 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Philip J. Landrigan, MD, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and Charles Benbrook, PhD, from Washington State University in Pullman, discuss recent developments that are changing the GM landscape.

The authors note that the National Academy of Sciences reviewed the safety of GM crops in 2000 and 2004 and concluded that GM crops posed no unique hazards to human health. The main characteristic that the biotechnology industry has chosen to introduce into crops is herbicide resistance; consequently, there is an overreliance on herbicides, particularly glyphosate. In a recent decision, the Environmental Protection Agency approved a new combination herbicide (Enlist Duo) containing glyphosate and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D). Given that the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified glyphosate as a "probable human carcinogen" and 2,4-D as a "possible human carcinogen," it is possible that GM foods and the herbicides used on them may pose a hazard to human health. The authors recommend reconsidering approval of Enlist Duo and revisiting the United States' reluctance to label GM food.

"We hope, in light of this new information, that the FDA will reconsider labeling of GM foods and couple it with adequately funded, long-term post-marketing surveillance," the authors write.

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