The right to know: If you are about to be sold genetically modified food, you should have the right to be informed
The Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND) supports consumer awareness and education of foods consumed. As registered dietitians, dietetic technicians, students, and retired practitioners, we applaud the state legislation making Connecticut the first state to eventually require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs. Four nearby states are at various stages of engagement to join with Connecticut as a unified Northeast group on GMO labeling.
Other states must pass GMO labeling laws to trigger Connecticut's labeling law.
We strongly believe consumers deserve the information they need to make personal decisions about how they will spend their food dollar. Labeled GMOs would be an added component to an already terrific collection of information on a product's Nutrition Facts Label. This information is critical for consumers looking to make wise and specific food purchases, many of which directly affect health.
The patient who has just been told by his or her cardiac surgeon to limit intake of saturated fats and increase the healthier monounsaturated fatty acids very much appreciates the percentages of those nutrients listed on the food product label. Imagine the parents of kids who are highly allergic to peanuts or tree nuts having to guess if their child would have a reaction to a food simply by looking at the product. Many are very grateful for the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-282, Title II), which includes on many food products the critical line of information: "this product was manufactured on equipment that processes nuts and tree nuts."
As registered dietitians, we focus and depend on evidence-based research to provide to the public quality information relating to food and nutrient science, food safety and food technology. There is not enough information at this time to pronounce GMOs "good" or "bad." It is healthy for the debate to continue, because it is with this on-going discussion and investigation that GMOs will more clearly be defined as to their potential effect on the biochemistries in the human body.
The most recent deliberation in front of us was the consumers' right to know every ingredient that is in the food they are about to purchase, prepare and consume. The members of the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics are extremely proud to function in a state that has taken the lead in the Northeast region on this very important issue. Our practitioners serving in clinical, community, and food service areas will continue the food and product education we already provide on a daily basis to Connecticut residents and families, to empower those spending their food dollars to make the best possible decisions for their preferences and health.
Judy Prager is the president of the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.