Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics

Living Edition
| Editors: David M. Kaplan

GMO Food Labeling

  • Samuel V. Bruton
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6167-4_320-2



Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms made using recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology, also referred to as genetic engineering or gene-splicing. This technology involves using individual genes from a source organism to modify the living DNA of a target organism from a different species, which can be an animal, plant, or microorganism. Producers are thus able to overcome the species barrier, a natural limitation of traditional methods of genetic improvement such as plant hybridization. First developed in 1973, transgenic techniques have been used to create disease-, pest-, and herbicide-resistant crops, faster-growing animals, and plants with enhanced nutritional properties (NAS 2010; Blatt 2008).

Countries vary widely in how GM food products are labeled and regulated. Over 40 nations currently require all foods with GM ingredients above a certain...


European Union Food Label Label Requirement Mandatory Label Consumer Autonomy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Blatt, H. (2008). America’s food: What you don’t know about what you eat. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  2. Boccaletti, S., & Moro, D. (2000). Consumer willingness-to-pay for GM food products in Italy. AgBioForum, 3, 259–267.Google Scholar
  3. Brock, D. (1999). A critique of three objections to physician-assisted suicide. Ethics, 109, 519–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Center for Food Safety. (2010). Monsanto vs. US farmers: 2010 update. Accessed at www.centerforfoodsafety.org
  5. Cummins, R. (2012). Labeling genetically modified foods. Agweek, July 30, 2012. Accessed at www.agweek.com
  6. European Union, Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General. (2007). Fact sheet: Food traceability. Accessed at ec.europa.edu/food/food/foodlaw/traceability
  7. Food and Drug Administration. (1992). Foods derived from new plant varieties. Federal Register volume 57, Friday May 29, 1992.Google Scholar
  8. Guthman, J. (2003). Eating risk. In R. Schurman & D. Kelso (Eds.), Engineering trouble: Biotechnology and its discontents. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  9. Hansen, K. (2004). Does autonomy count in favor of labeling genetically modified food? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 17, 67–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kuzma, J., Kuzhabekova, A., & Wilder, K. (2009). Improving oversight of genetically engineered organisms. Policy and Society, 28, 279–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. McHughen, A. (2002). Uninformation and the choice paradox. In M. Ruse & D. Dastle (Eds.), Genetically modified foods: Debating biotechnology. Amherst: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  12. McHughen, A., & Smyth, S. (2008). US regulatory system for genetically modified [genetically modified organism (GMO), rDNA or transgenic] crop cultivars. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 6, 2–12.Google Scholar
  13. National Academy of Sciences. (2004). Safety of genetically engineered foods: Approaches to assessing unintended health effects. Washington, DC: National Academies.Google Scholar
  14. National Academy of Sciences. (2010). The Impact of genetically engineered crops on farm sustainability in the United States. Washington, DC: National Academies.Google Scholar
  15. Paarlberg, R. (2010). Food politics: What everyone needs to know. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Radas, S., Teisl, M., & Roe, B. (2008). An open mind wants more: Opinion strength and the desire for genetically modified food labeling policy. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 42, 335–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Schmitz, A., Moss, C. B., Schmitz, T. G., Furtan, H. W., & Schmitz, H. C. (2010). Agricultural Policy, agribusiness, and rent-seeking behavior. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  18. Schurman, R. (2004). Fighting ‘frankenfoods’: Industry opportunity structures and the efficacy of the anti-biotech movement in western Europe. Social Problems, 51, 243–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Shiva, V. (2011). Resisting the corporate theft of seeds. The Nation, September 14, 2011, accessed at www.thenation.com
  20. Smith, J. (2008). Genetically modified foods are dangerous and unneeded. In C. Hanrahan (Ed.), Global resources. Farmington Hills: Greenhaven.Google Scholar
  21. Spencer, P. (2002). Biotech foods: Right to know what? In M. Ruse & D. Dastle (Eds.), Genetically modified foods: Debating biotechnology. Amherst: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  22. Streiffer, R., & Rubel, A. (2004). Democratic principles and mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food. Public Affairs Quarterly, 18, 223–248.Google Scholar
  23. Thorpe, A., & Robinson, C. (2004). When goliaths clash: US and EU differences over the labeling of food products derived from genetically modified organisms. Agriculture and Human Values, 21, 287–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wohlers, A. E. (2010). Regulating genetically modified food: Policy trajectories, political culture, and risk perceptions in the U.S., Canada, and EU. Politics and the Life Sciences, 29, 17–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and ReligionThe University of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA