The world of genetically modified organism (GMO) foods just got more complicated. For many concerned shoppers, the non-GMO label has become an important stamp to look for. But the issue of labeling fresh produce has been highly debated as science continues to move forward at a rapid pace.
Now, the Food and Drug Administration has just approved six varieties of genetically modified potatoes and two varieties of apples. The Arctic apple is designed to resist browning when cut open so it can be bagged without being sprayed with antioxidants. And the Innate potato is designed to have 40 percent less bruising and black spots.
The FDA said that it doesn’t think either pose a risk to human health but it is deciding whether to require labels that alert consumers to the traits that make them different (but they’re unlikely to use the words “modified”).
While there is no evidence that the new varieties pose a risk, concerned voices like Scott Faber, a vice president with the Environmental Working Group and a supporter of mandatory labels, said the FDA could be missing an opportunity to establish new policies on GMO foods. “This is a critical moment for GMO labeling,” Faber said. Labels that “convey the benefit but obscure the technology are not what the consumers are expecting.”
In the U.S., most consumers support mandatory labels on GMO foods. In an Associated Press-GfK poll in December, 66 percent of Americans support mandatory labels, and about 40 percent said they consider it “very” or “extremely important.”