The labeling debate in the United States.

Gary Marchant, Guy A. Cardineau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The mandatory labeling of genetically modified (GM) food has become the predominant policy issue concerning biotechnology in the United States. The controversy over GM labeling is being debated at several different levels and branches of government. At the federal level, the Food and Drug Administration, which has primary jurisdiction over food safety and labeling, has steadfastly refused to require labeling of GM foods since 1992 based on its conclusion that GM foods as a category present no unique or higher risks than other foods. Proposed legislation has been repeatedly introduced in the US. Congress over the years to mandate GM labeling, but has made very little progress. With federal labeling requirements apparently stalled, the main activity has switched to the state level, where numerous individual states are considering mandatory GM labeling, either through legislation or proposition. The debate over GM labeling, at both the federal and state levels, has focused on five issues: (1) public opinion; (2) the legality of labeling requirements; (3) the risks and benefits of GM foods; (4) the costs and burdens of GM labeling; and (5) consumer choice. While the pro-labeling forces argue that all of these factors weigh in favor of mandatory GM labeling, a more careful evaluation of the evidence finds that all five factors weigh decisively against mandatory GM labeling requirements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-134
Number of pages9
JournalGM crops & food
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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