Consumer autonomy and sufficiency of gmf labeling

Abstract

Individuals’ food choices are intimately connected to their self-images and world views. Some dietary choices adopted by consumers pose restrictions on their use of genetically modified food (GMF). It is quite generally agreed that some kind of labeling is necessary for respecting consumers’ autonomy of choice regarding GMF. In this paper, we ask whether the current practice of mandatory labeling of GMF products in the European Union is a sufficient administrative procedure for respecting consumers’ autonomy. Three issues concerning this question are discussed. First, we argue that labeling needs to be accompanied by relevant and understandable information on genetic modification, genetically modified food, and the European practice of GMF labeling. Second, we claim that this type of informing makes it less likely that consumers start to avoid GMF products just because labels make them suspicious of the products. It is further noted that even though some consumers may react to labels this way, labels do not restrict their autonomy of choice. Third, a need for more precise labels indicating the source of the transferred gene is considered. It is found out that such labels are not morally necessary when also non-GMF products are available and no relevant differences (such as differences in price and healthiness) exist between them and GMF products. However, in some other cases more precise labels may be needed for respecting consumers’ autonomy of choice.

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Citations of this work

Autonomy, Values, and Food Choice.J. Dieterle - 2016 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 29 (3):349-367.
Consumer Autonomy and Availability of Genetically Modified Food.Helena Siipi & Susanne Uusitalo - 2011 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 24 (2):147-163.
The Influence of Knowledge and Motivation on Sustainable Label Use.Carmen Valor, Isabel Carrero & Raquel Redondo - 2014 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 27 (4):591-607.

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