This webpage was produced as an assignment for an undergraduate course at Davidson College.

Debate and Policies on Labeling GM Foods



Permission Pending. Click on the cartoon to be directed to the original site.



The use of genetically modified foods is growing worldwide.  For example, in Canada, 11% of foods have detectable GM content, and it is estimated that 75% of processed foods in stores contain some undetectable GM content (Smyth and Phillips, 2003).  Americans are not aware of how widespread GM foods are in the U.S. market.  When “asked whether GM food is generally something positive or negative, the public is also divided, but leans toward a negative view” (Program on International Policy Attitudes, 2003).  Because GM foods are becoming so prevalent in the market, there is an increased demand for GM content information (Smyth and Phillips, 2003).  This increased demand sparked the debatable necessity of labels on GM foods. 



Some statistics on GM foods:

·        In the U.S. in 1999, more than 40% of corn, more than 50% of cotton, and more than 45% of soybeans were genetically modified crops (Ahmed, 2002). 

·        At least 60% of products in US supermarkets contain GMOs (Ahmed, 2002)

·        Yet only 14% of Americans correctly believed more than half of food products in U.S. supermarkets were made with GM ingredients (Program on International Policy Attitudes, 2003). 

·        Only 19% of Americans had thought they had eaten a GM product (Program on International Policy Attitudes, 2003).

·        45% of Americans think GM foods are safe for consumption (The Genetic Engineering Action Network, 2003).

·        When asked if GM products would improve quality of life, only 39% of Americans agreed (The Genetic Engineering Action Network, 2003).

·        35% thought it would make diminish their quality of life (The Genetic Engineering Action Network, 2003).

·        An overwhelming majority of Americans (94%) think GM foods should be labeled, but only about half (54%) said it would negatively affect their purchasing decision (The Genetic Engineering Action Network, 2003).


This website addresses the issues surrounding this debate.  First, what are the policies on labeling GM foods in the U.S. and abroad?  Second, how do producers detect the amount of GM content in a particular product?  And third, what are the benefits and downfalls of labeling GM foods?  This page also looks at some opinion surveys that have been taken in different countries.


Davidson Biology Home


Davidson Home


GMOs Course Home


This page was created by Nicole Hesson.  

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, email the editor.