Whole Foods to Start Labeling Genetically Modified FoodsS

Whole Foods, spurred on by recent concerns and scandals about what is actually inside of the things we eat, has decided to start labeling foods that have been genetically modified by 2018. While it's unclear whether this will lead to a larger practice of this type of labeling in the industry, Whole Foods Executive Walter Robb felt that "this is an issue whose time has come."

California shot down a proposal last November that would have required all food sellers to label foods that had been genetically altered. Whole Foods however, felt that consumers should not be left in the dark anymore when it came to their food choices. "With cases like horse meat discovered in the U.K., plastic in milk in China, the recalls of almond and peanut butter in the U.S., customers have a fundamental right to know what's in their food," Robb said.

But what's so bad about a little genetic modification? Writing in the New York Times, journalist Emily Anthes thinks that the hysteria surrounding GMO's has slowed technological progress and possibly cost human lives. She traces the history of the AquAdvantage, a salmon that would grow at almost twice the rate of a normal salmon. After a long period of testing, the Salmon still has not been approved for the American market. Anthes argues that because of America's hesitancy about GMO's, it has been losing out to other countries:

Some scientists may move abroad, to China, Argentina, India or another nation where the political climate is more favorable. (Indeed, some have already done so - researchers at the University of California, Davis, who have developed goats whose modified milk could be used to treat and prevent childhood diarrhea, are moving much of their operation to Brazil.) Others may decide not to pursue such research at all. If a company that has done everything right can't get its product approved, who else will be foolish enough to embark upon this kind of research? Who will finance it?

If the controversy surrounding the labeling proposition (which corporations poured in $46 million to defeat) in California is any indication, it seems like the fight over GMO's in the marketplace will be a long and costly one. To Anthes, it seems like the cost of delaying even longer will be severe.