Of all of the decisions which the government makes while regulating our food, one of the most interesting is that it has decided not to require labeling for genetically engineered food. This is especially interesting since almost all of the less than desirable things which were predicted when genetic engineering appeared on the scene have developed into reality. The genes in genetically engineered plants have spread into wild populations, and weeds and insects have developed resistance to pesticides that plants have been engineered to produce. In fact, just about the only problem that hasn't become a reality is the poisoning of people from the use of these plants. Indeed, despite the fact that over 60% of our processed foods contain some genetically modified product, no disease or physical problem has yet been tied to genetically modified crops.
Over the years one of our strongest methods of protesting a particular product is simply to avoid buying it. Doesn't it seem wrong to deprive people of this form of protest against genetic engineering by not allowing them to know when a food does or doesn't have a genetically modified plant or animal in it?
Large agricultural companies fear that people will avoid genetically modified foods if they are labeled as such. This is because they assume that people will think that, with labeling, the government is sending a message about the safety of genetic engineering, just as many people assume that, by labeling something as USDA organic, the government is sending a message that organic means safe and healthy. And Big Ag wants us to use genetically engineered foods because they are cheap — mostly because fewer pesticide applications will need to be made to grow the crops. Less pesticides does sound good. The question is whether fewer pesticides are worth genetically modified food. It's a tough question with no answer which is clearly right.