Why mandatory food labelling is necessary

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 July, 2003, 12:00am

Peter Forsythe (July 3) argues against a law currently in Legco that would require genetically modified (GM) foods to be labelled as such.

I do not know why he thinks I should be prevented from knowing that a pesticide company has put peculiar genes in the food I am about to buy. I would appreciate it if he would let me make my own decisions.

His assertions cannot go unchallenged. Defending the GM food industry (also known as the pesticide industry), he claims: 'GM crops may deliver massively increased production, involving less use of pesticides.'

Not so. For example, the GM potato with the naturally occurring (non-patentable) insecticide bT is designed to over-expose pests to bT and make them resistant. The GM/pesticide industry admits this. The result is that cheap, naturally occurring bT becomes useless. Farmers will be forced to use the expensive patented insecticides sold by the same industry. The increased cost to the small farmer in developing countries is huge.

He says: 'To be sure, there need to be strict regulations on the development of GM technology.' The Honolulu Advertiser reports that over the last year DuPont has been fined large amounts several times by the US government for deliberately hiding the fact that their experiments in Hawaii have been escaping into surrounding non-GM fields. If you cannot trust them to behave responsibly on US soil, with the government watching their every move, what chance do other countries have?

I support the required labelling of GM foods. Let the market decide if they are worth buying.