Need to consider implementing GMO labelling of genetically modified foods

Stop! Genetically modified organism(s) - GMO. ...
Stop! Genetically modified organism(s) – GMO. Read comments! (Photo credit: artist in doing nothing)

About genetically modified (GM) foods

According to Wikipedia, genetically modified foods (GM foods, or biotech foods) are foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), such as genetically modified crops or genetically modified fish. GMOs have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques.

This website summarises the benefits and controversies of GM products.

About the need to implement GMO labelling of GM foods

Recently, I came across this newspaper article about food labelling in supermarkets in Singapore to encourage people to buy healthier food. While that is good, I realise there is no GMO labelling implemented yet. So I decided to email the following letter to the newspaper to highlight the issue. I had also hoped that the Proposition 37 on GMO labelling of foods in California would come into fruition on 6 November 2012, as Singapore and other countries tend to follow America’s lead in many areas of life.

I refer to the article “Labels in supermarkets to guide the Healthy Shopper” published in The Sunday Times on 28 October 2012. While it is good to know that food labelling will be carried out in supermarkets to identify the healthier foods to encourage consumers to buy more of them, there is no GMO labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods implemented in Singapore yet. This is a worrying trend because more and more studies have shown that GM foods are potentially dangerous to human health.

For example, the Health Ranger of NaturalNews Network, a non-profit collection of public education websites, explained in his video entitled “How GMO foods alter organ function and pose a very real health threat to humans” that cell research shows that the microRNA in GM foods may alter organ functions in the human body by changing the biological information and suppressing natural functions in vital organs, which may in the long run cause cancer tumours, infertility and so on. It is useful then for more people to be aware of the dangers of eating GM foods.

According to the Institute of Responsible Technology, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) reported that “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food”, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM has also asked physicians to advise patients to avoid GM foods.

Besides, we all have the right as consumers to know what is in our food. According to LabelGmos.org, 50 countries with over 40% of the world’s population already label genetically engineered foods, including China and the entire European Union. Even in America, California is looking set to become the first US state to enforce labelling of GM foods, in a vote on 6 November 2012.

It is therefore high time for Singapore to follow suit to give consumers the right to know what is in their food. As noted by our Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has shown “our Government’s seriousness in creating a healthy nation”, so I see no reason that the food labelling programme would stop at identifying healthier foods and exclude GMO labelling. I strongly urge the relevant authorities to seriously consider implementing GMO labelling in Singapore for our health’s sake.

My letter was published on 4 November 2012 in The Sunday Times entitled “Label genetically modified food too”, which has been edited and truncated, probably for brevity.


As of today, it has been reported that the Proposition 37 to label GMO foods in California has failed, since the number of people who voted “No” had slightly outnumbered those who voted “Yes” on 6 November 2012. Nevertheless, there is still hope since at least the campaign has raised awareness among more people about the GMO issue.

In many ways, the YES on 37 campaign was a huge victory for awareness. The campaign organized over 10,000 volunteers in California alone and succeeded in achieving a massive social media presence.

The YES on 37 campaign also forced Monsanto and the biotech giants to spend $45 million to defeat the measure. That’s a record expenditure by the world’s largest toxic pesticide companies to try to prevent consumers from knowing what they’re buying. Remember: GMOs are the only products that consumers accidentally purchase without knowing what they’re buying.

What’s clear from all this is that GMO labeling has a foothold in the minds of American consumers, and this effort to label GMOs is going to be repeated state after state, year after year, until victory is achieved.

Recommended links

Seven Things to Tell Your Friends About GMOs

GMO – Their right to grow, our right to know

Genetic Roulette – The Gamble of Our Lives

Prop 37 and GMO Foods: Yea or Nay?

Prop 37 GMO Labeling Law Defeated By Corporate Dollars And Deception, Proponents Say

Right to Know Election Statement