Food Labels And Their Use Of Word "Natural" Argumentative Essay Examples
Type of paper: Argumentative Essay
Topic: Nature, Food, Products, Business, Label, Genetics, Definition, People
According to Urvashi Rangan, the director of consumer safety and sustainability for Consumer Reports, just as the attributes are marked for food products labelled 'organic', same way a definition for the word 'natural' should be provided by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) so that consumers while purchasing a food product labelled 'natural' know the attributes of 'natural' and do not get misled into buying a product, which though labelled as ‘natural’, contains artificial ingredients. For example, Crystal Light Natural Lemonade that is advertised as a natural product has no lemon in its ingredients and has artificial lemon color added into it (Rangan 2014). There are products like Kashi Go Lean Crisp! Toasted Berry Crumble cereal, which is advertised as 'naturally sweetened', but has dried cane syrup as the third ingredient of the product in terms of weight, and both blueberries and cranberries are artificially sweetened using cane syrup (Weise 2014). Because of these reasons, it is essential that a definition should exist, marking the attributes of ‘natural’ products.
However, opponents like Richard Williams (2014), a former F.D.A. director for social sciences at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, completely disagree with the idea of providing a definition for ‘natural’ because of a variety of reasons. According to them, from the perspective of food science, it is difficult to define a food product as natural, as the food might have gone through a processing due to which it no longer remains solely a product of the earth. According to them, because of these reasons, no solid definition for the word 'natural' can be made by the FDA. However, a solid definition of the word 'natural' must be made by the FDA, because in the absence of any proper definition, the word 'natural' deceives and confuses people, with many Americans believing that 'natural' means absolutely a natural product of the earth with no artificial ingredients and genetically engineered organisms used. A survey conducted by Consumer Reports came up with the finding that two thirds of Americans assume that the word 'natural' on the label of a processed or packaged food means that it does not contain any artificial ingredients, pesticides, or genetically modified organisms. If the word ' natural' is found on the packaging of meat or poultry product, 70% Americans think that the no growth hormones were applied in the feed of the animals, while 60% think that the animals were not fed any antibiotics or other drugs (Weise 2014).
According to Doug Van Hoewyk (2014), an associate professor at Coastal Carolina University, it is wrong to put genetically modified foods (GMOs) into the same category as food products containing artificial flavors and additives. He claims that it would be wrong to attach a label of unnatural to food products exposed to the process of mutagenesis, as this process in which crops are exposed to mutagens for better taste and increased yield is used for cultivating organic foods too. Not only Doug Van Hoewyk, Richard Williams too claims that GMOs are perfectly safe, because almost every scientific institution has verified that eating GMOs is not harmful and that farmers have been modifying foods for thousands of years. However, research shows that there are reasons why it is important not to categorize GMOs under the same category of ‘natural’. Many studies show that due to the prevalence of GMO foods in the market, many adults as well as children in the USA and Europe have turned allergic to peanuts and other foods. The confirmation made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as regards the increasing number of allergic reaction cases found among the general population also corroborates the same fact. In 1996, a company called Pioneer Hi-Bred infused Brazil nuts into soybeans to improve the protein content of methionine, with little regard to the fact that some people are so allergic to these nuts that a single morsel can send them into a fatal anaphylactic shock (Lendman 2013). Thus, GMO foods contain allergens that might be harmful for people susceptible to allergies, and therefore, it is wrong to label a food carrying genetically engineered organisms as natural.
Though Richard Williams and Doug Van Hoewyk might say that it is difficult to label a food taking into account only people prone to allergies as these people might face the threat of getting an anaphylactic shock anywhere in the world as allergens circulate in the air too, and for that if someone demands tomorrow that the air containing allergens should be labelled as dangerous, that would be preposterous. However, GMO foods are not only harmful to allergic people. There is evidence that in order to make the business of milk production more profitable, big corporations like Monsanto inject protein hormones like rBGH to stimulate the pituitary glands of cows so that the produced milk is more in amount. rBGH is a genetically engineered growth hormone that increases IGF-1, a powerful chemical hormone, which may cause prostate, colorectal, and breast cancer (Lendman 2013). When the harm caused by genetically engineered organisms can affect all kinds of people, it is wrong to deceive customers with the label ‘natural’ marked on foods that are not safe to eat. At least, people should know that what they are eating is genetically modified and not a wholly natural food as the misleading label claims.
In conclusion, though the word ‘natural’ is frequently used to label food products in order to impress upon the consumers that the food products are natural; in reality, however, the food products sold in the market as ‘natural’ contain not only artificial colors, additives and flavors, they also carry genetically engineered organisms. Despite what the opponents say that it is difficult to provide a definition for the word ‘natural’ and that GMOs are safe products not to be confused with unnatural substances, it is wrong to sell products as something they are not. If a food product is infused with artificial colors and flavors, it should not be marked as natural. If a food contains genetically modified organisms, it should not be marked as natural, because then the meaning of ‘natural’ becomes warped. Since in the absence of a definite definition of the word ‘natural’, the word is frequently being misused by food product companies, it is about time when FDA should define it, marking the attributes of ‘natural’ products so that there remains no place for confusion.
Hoewyk, Doug Van. "Calling G.M.O.’S ‘Unnatural’ Suggests They Are Unhealthy". The New York Times. 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015 <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/11/10/should-the-fda-regulate-the-use-of-natural-on-food-products-15/calling-gmos-unnatural-suggests-they-are-unhealthy>
Rangan, Urvashi. “Ban ‘Natural’ as a Marketing Label on Foods”. The New York Times. 11 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015 <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/11/10/should-the-fda-regulate-the-use-of-natural-on-food-products-15/ban-natural-as-a-marketing-label-on-foods>
Williams, Richard. "Defining ‘Natural’ Is a Waste of F.D.A. Resources". The New York Times. 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015 <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/11/10/should-the-fda-regulate-the-use-of-natural-on-food-products-15/defining-natural-is-a-waste-of-fda-resources>
Weise, Elizabeth. "66% of consumers wrongly think "natural" means something". USA Today. 17 Jun. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015 <http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2014/06/17/natural-food-labels-no-meaning/10674755/>
Lendman, Stephen. "Monsanto’s GMO Killer Seeds: Profits Above Human Health". Global Research. 26 May 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2015 <http://www.globalresearch.ca/monsantos-gmo-killer-seeds-profits-above-human-health/5336399>