Minnesota Law Review

Genetically Modified Food Fight: The FDA Should Step Up to the Regulatory Plate so States Do Not Cross the Constitutional Line

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) leaped into the spotlight last year with California’s Proposition 37, which proposed mandatory labeling for all foods containing GMOs. Consumers argued they have a right to know what’s in their Cheerios. Manufacturers fought back that such state labeling laws would be expensive and unwieldy, and would provide little benefit for a great burden. Despite the ballot initiative failing at the polls, a growing number of states are pursuing labeling schemes, and food producers and grocery stores such as Whole Foods are scrambling to respond to the growing consumer demand. The FDA, however, has stepped back and excused itself from the debate, refusing to regulate GMOs. The question remains: Can states constitutionally legislate in the area of GMO labeling? This Note addresses the preemption and Commerce Clause implications of such labeling.

This Note argues that under both preemption and Commerce Clause evaluations, mandatory GMO labels originating in state laws are unconstitutional. This Note further argues both that the FDA has the authority to enact GMO labeling regulations and that it should do so based on consumer concern. The suggested labeling solution balances the consumer “right to know” with the lack of definitive scientific evidence of negative effects from GMOs. This Note suggests a voluntary labeling regulation with GMO presence defined and measured in the finished product rather than in ingredients. Voluntary labeling allows manufacturers to capitalize on the demand for GMO-free products while establishing consistent label standards that consumers can rely on. It also avoids negative effects on national food supplies, as this Note argues mandatory labeling is likely to result in. While this solution may not allow consumers to know what’s in every box on the grocery shelf, it does provide them an option to pursue and encourage non-GMO products by putting their money where their mouth is.

:: View PDF

News & Events

  • Follow MLR on Twitter!

    The Minnesota Law Review is proud to announce that we are now on Twitter. Follow us @MinnesotaLawRev for information and updates concerning the petition period and deadlines, the opening and closing of article submissions, our 2014 Symposium: Offenders in the Community, and all other news concerning our authors and publications. [...]

  • Vol. 97 Lead Piece Cited in Al Jazeera Opinion Piece

    A recent Al Jazeera opinion piece that criticizes the Supreme Court’s Daimler decision cites to Volume 97′s lead piece, How Business Fares in the Supreme Court. You can read the Al Jazeera piece here.

  • Masthead for Volume 99 Board

    The masthead for the Board of Volume 99 of the Minnesota Law Review is now available. You can view the masthead here.

  • Above the Law Post Highlights MLR‘s Jump in Journal Rankings

    A recent post on Above the Law highlights the fact that the Minnesota Law Review was ranked 11th in the most recent 2013 edition of the Washington & Lee Law Review Rankings. You can read the post here.

  • Vol. 97 Lead Piece Cited on Slate

    A recent Slate article on the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the “Moldy Washing Machine” cases, or overturn class certification of those cases in some circuits, cites to the Volume 97 Lead Piece, How Business Fares in the Supreme Court. You can read the article here.

Newsletter

cforms contact form by delicious:days