Do Tell: The Case for Mandatory Labeling of GE Foods

Vol. 28 No. 2

Ms. Murphy is associate director of the Environmental & Natural Resources Law Clinic at Vermont Law School.

At first glance, Thomas Jefferson and Monsanto have a few things in common. Thomas Jefferson, who lays some claim to our agricultural consciousness, advocated for an agrarian republic with social equality for rural farmers; on its website Monsanto espouses values such as sustainable agriculture and commitment to family farmers. Thomas Jefferson famously opined, “An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will.” Monsanto proclaims dedication to “ethical, transparent and competitive business conduct.” Monsanto, Issues & Answers. But, reading a bit further, one finds that Monsanto opposes mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods on the basis that it could “imply” that GE products are inferior to non-GE products (such implication would presumably be false). See Monsanto, Labeling Food & Ingredients Developed from GM Seed. In other words, the public cannot be trusted with information that it does not understand.

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