Public Affairs Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 223-248, 2004
14 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2009
Date Written: July 14, 2004
Despite the fact that public opinion overwhelmingly supports mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods, the FDA recently reaffirmed its original 1992 decision not to require labels, claiming that there is no scientific basis for concluding that GE food are less healthful than others foods. In this paper, we give two arguments about how this conflict between public opinion and the FDA ought to be resolved. The first is the Consumer Autonomy Argument, which applies to the FDA and appeals to moral principles about how public agencies within a democracy should exercise their discretion. We argue that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) gives the FDA the discretion to require labels, and that the FDA has a moral and democratic obligation to exercise that discretion so as to require labeling. The second is the Democratic Equality Argument, which applies to Congress and concerns its democratic responsibility to defer to public opinion on certain kinds of issues. We conclude that if the FDA fails to require labeling, Congress should.
Keywords: genetically engineered foods, labeling, environmental ethics, democratic theory
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Streiffer, Robert and Rubel, Alan, Democratic Principles and Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods (July 14, 2004). Public Affairs Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 223-248, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1473226