Food Labeling: A Sticky Issue

Almost everyone agrees food labeling is a good thing. But, no sooner do we arrive at a consensus than someone starts asking foolish questions, and muddying an issue that was perfectly clear.

A food label must fulfill three criteria:

  • It must be Truthful
  • It must be Verifiable
  • It must be Enforceable

So here’s the first problem: If the label on a genetically modified food is truthful, it must state that there is no evidence to say this food is safe to eat. In the interest of balanced scientific accuracy, it must also say there is no evidence to suggest it is unsafe to eat.

Therefore, the only way to tell the truth is to declare on the label that this food may or may not be safe to eat.

The verifiable part also is a bit of dilemma. There is no practical, economical test that can measure the presence of a protein derived from a genetically modified ingredient. This situation can be compared with having sex without, well, you know what… in other words there is no issue.

It is rather like asserting something might be there, or it might not there, but if it is there, it doesn’t present a problem.  In yet other words, the house may or may not be haunted, but if it is, the undetectable ghost is really friendly.

The enforceable issue presents the biggest predicament of all. If the label says that this food may or may not be safe because something that might be there might not be there, but if it is there, we must plead with a government agency to enforce a ruling that something that is not detectable is O.K. to eat.

Sounds like good work if you can get it. Rumor has it that there would be paid vacations if such a job existed.