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Mandatory Labeling on Laboratory Grown Meat or Non-meat Products

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The population will reach approximately 9.1 billion in the year 2050. That means that the market demand for food will increase exceedingly. In order to feed this fast growing population, farmers and agriculturalists will have to find new and innovative ways to grow and harvest food at a more efficient rate. Feeding a population that vast is a task that will be very challenging. Agriculturists and scientists have already started innovating and discovering new ways to produce food more efficiently. The future of food is headed to “lab grown meat”, organic products, soy milk as well as GMOs- these products may be undesirable to certain people, therefore all these “new” products need to have mandatory labeling. G.M.O.’s, Lab Grown Meat, and organic products such as soy milk are the future of agriculture. G.M.O.’s and lab grown meat are a very disputed topic in today’s world. Labeling these products that have been genetically modified is extremely important because people have the right to know what is in the food they are consuming. Labeling should be mandatory, necessarily for the safety of the consumers. The implementation of mandatory labeling will not only affect the consumers but will have major impacts on the food market.

There is a large population who do not believe that GMO foods are safe for consumption. Those consumers should have the ability or option to buy other non GMO products even if the price is higher. In the article GMO Foods should be labeled, But Not for Safety by Arthur Caplan, he stated that “Companies selling GMOs don’t want their products labeled for fear of stigmatizing their products and losing customers. Organic food companies want labeling to provoke safety concerns that drive consumers toward their ‘natural’ products.” The main argument for mandatory labeling is because of issues labeling will inflict to the companies producing these products. Not only that, but customers feel they should have the right to safely consume products they desire. With the amount of non GMO products, organic products and lab grown meat- there is now more than ever a greater competition in the food market and more debate about mandatory labeling. There is a possibility that having mandatory labeling will cause many implications and may hurt the markets but many still believe there needs to be mandatory labeling on these “irregular” products. Labeling is used for advertisement as well, and if there was mandatory labeling it might be merely promoting a product but does have the chances to hurt it.

A “G.M.O.” is a genetically modified organism. GMOs have changed farming and allowed an incredible increase in production of food. Genetically Modified Organisms have allowed farmers to grow more food with less, they have given certain crops the ability to grow in weather/climates that they were not able to before. “Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering”. The term ‘Genetically modified organism’ is scary for many people because they are unaware what it means or why it has to do with the food they are putting into their bodies. According to the college of agriculture at Purdue University, in the 1990s when GMOs were first introduced, the united states did not require labeling on any products that contained genetically modified organisms. Nonetheless, in 2016, a bill was passed that now requires food manufacturers to label any product that does contain genetically modified organisms.

GMOs labeling has been a very controversial topic over the last decade. Many concede that GMOs should not be labeled because it just creates fear within consumers- therefore encouraging them not to buy Genetically modified products. Many people assume this could possibly produce an issue as the population is quickly arising and GMOs are essential to feed and produce enough food for the population. They anticipate because consumers are not well educated on the topic of GMOs that these products will continue to get a bad name.

Many people support the labeling of GMO’s because they effect market prices of food. Companies that market non- GMO products indict a higher price for their product because it is more desirable to many consumers- however part of this reason is due to the fact that it cost more for farmers to produce a GMO free crop. Because of this, many companies take advantage of this and establish ‘GMO Free’ labels on specific types of food that have never been genetically modified and charge more for their product. They get away with this because their targeted consumers are uneducated and are unaware that all of that specific type of food is GMO free.

Due to the nutritional value and popularity of meat, the demand for meat has skyrocketed “since 1960, global meat production has become threefold”. Scientist have created a new “technological breakthrough”, according to Association of Food Scientists & Technologists (India) 2015, and they are calling it ‘Lab Grown meat’. “Also called In vitro meat/lab meat/synthetic meat/artificial meat, its fabrication involves a method of producing meat for human consumption wherein the protein cells are grown from a culture of animal stem cells or the whole muscle is synthesised de novo in a laboratory. It works on the principles of tissue engineering and involves an advanced approach of creating meat from muscle where animal slaughter is eliminated; the only step of involvement of the animal is the donation of suitable cell.”.

This substitute to livestock meat is a delicate matter for consumers. In Vitro production of meat can be described as a culture in the lab that’s composition has been manipulated selectively. The idea is that lab grown meat will essentially aid in feeding the fast growing population, and help solve the problem that there is a decreasing amount of fertile land (Federal Register D. At the current population growth rate, livestock meat production would need to catapult in order to raise enough meat for the large population. the amount of fertile land is decreasing, and the food that will have to be grown for not just the population, but for the livestock as well is a huge amount.

A fairly new product on the market, in vitro production of meat is a product that many consumers are not even aware exists. Consumers are entitled to know if they are eating lab grown meat or livestock produced meat. Although cultured meat companies say the debate over whether in vitro meat products should be labeled is different from past situations such as soy milk because cultured meat is biochemically identical to the substance it’s competing with. Furthermore this product was constructed as an innovation to aid the developing population around the world. Beef cattle producers fear this product could dramatically affect their livelihood, they strongly disagree with the in vitro production of meat. The U.S. cattlemen’s association wrote a letter of petition to the United States Department of Agriculture requesting that they ban cultured meat companies from labeling with the term ‘meat’ or ‘beef’ on any of their products. However, the National Cattlemen’s Beef association and many cultured meat companies wrote a letter against the petition. “The Good Food Institute (GFI), an advocacy group for plant-based foods and cell-cultured meat, argues the cell-cultured meat products should be called “clean meat.”. They allege “clean meat” is an accurate label for in vitro meat because they believe it is “real meat” that did not come from animal slaughter. Livestock industry professionals are extremely opposed and offended to this idea because this would mean if ‘clean meat’ is cultured meat than that would be calling traditional meat ‘dirty’. They contend that this is very misleading to consumers and a violation of the labeling laws, “A recent Consumer Reports survey indicated that consumers would disagree with GFI and would prefer the“lab-grown meat” label.”. The labeling of in vitro meat is obviously a very new and disputed topic. Some consumers will find it appealing that there is a new product on the market that does not require harming animals, however others will be opposed to eating meat that was cultured and grown in a lab.

Labeling, although often overlooked by many is a huge aspect in the process of selling a product. “The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) provides for two general categories of food: Standardized food and nonstandardized food.”. A food that is standardized is promulgated in a regulation under the common or usual name of the food under section 401 of the FD&C Act”. This act regulates the labeling of regular and irregular products, both standardized and unstandardized foods are required to be labeled on the principle display of the label. When creating a name for the label of the product, several precautions or principals are taken to ensure the name is not confusing to the consumers. Some of these principles include: whether or not the name is uniform throughout the market on similar products is also considered when deciding a name for these specific plant based/ or irregular products and whether or not the name precisely describes the food. Products that are misbranded are restricted from entering the market.

As formerly voiced many times in this paper, food labeling is very important to the way they are perceived by the public, ”food marketing may have a powerful effect on what people eat—and ultimately their health.”.Although this may sound ridiculous, labeling on a food product could potentially increase the value to a food product in the eyes of consumers. A good illustration of this is, many poultry companies impose labels on their products that say ‘hormone free’, it is illegal to use growth hormones on poultry, therefore all poultry products that are sold in the United States are actually hormone free (Watkins). Some consumers will willingly pay a higher price for products that are labeled ‘GMO Free’ and ‘Hormone free”. “Consumers frequently seek out products with the “natural” label, for example, and falsely believe the label means that no pesticides or genetically engineered organisms were used in production.”.

These irregular products will greatly affect the markets by the implementation of mandatory labeling. Many companies are fighting against mandatory labeling being implemented because the effect certain revenue from certain products may cause. Properly labeling these products may cause buyers to make decisions that may change the quantity of their consumption on these products. Consumers will make a decision to buy products based on the label. For example, many people buy North Face products just because the brand name. This is already relevant in food markets but will become much more applicable if mandatory labeling is implemented.

The fast growing world population that is expected to reach 9.1 billion by the year 2050, will mean farmers have to increase production by seventy percent. Accordingly, some developing countries food production will almost have to double. With the population increasing at a very fast rate, agriculturists and scientists have done their best to innovate and create Genetically Modified Organisms, Lab grown meat, and other irregular food products to try and deliver new channels to nourish the growing population. Labeling these irregular somewhat new food products is essential not only for the welfare of the consumer, but for the markets as well. Food markets are a colossal part of the United States economy, therefore the financial effect of properly labeling these irregular products needs to be taken into consideration in the conversation of mandatory labeling. The social construct theory perfectly defends this evidence. “If there is any core idea of social constructionism, it is that some object or objects are caused or controlled by social or cultural factors rather than natural factors, and if there is any core motivation of such research, it is the aim of showing that such objects are or were under our control” (plato.stanford.edu). In todays society, people make decisions based off what everyone else is doing with no preconceived notion about the topic. On the other side of the argument, naturalism states anything natural is good and anything not natural is bad and that is what you will believe. With that said, GMO’s, lab grown meat, and chickens that are created with no eyes and no sense of feeling, is not natural.

Many products already require a proper label by the Food and Drug administration, nonetheless as agriculturists advance in their innovation and conceive new food products for consumers it is critical they are properly labeled. Furthermore, these products should be required to be labeled, but the government should not regulate or control what the population chooses to consume. American consumers possess the right to be educated on what they are feeding their bodies and that is why properly labeling these particular products is so vital. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons labeling contends such a huge aspect in the market is because consumers are uneducated on the products they consume. It is our role as advocates for the agricultural industry to educate the people on the essential innovative products such as Genetically Modified organisms and the research that has been done on these particular controversial products. Mandatory labeling of some type should be enforced for the right of the consumers, even though there are many factors that will be affected by this implementation such as markets. Consumers warrant the right to know what they are eating and should have the right to decide what they purchase, but does this come with a big price?

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