Well, this GMO labeling was a big deal in at least one state: Vermont. Vermont passed laws to make GMO labeling mandatory where crop modification techniques were used in the creation of a food product. GMO technically means genetically modified organisms. Specifically, it’s altering the genetic makeup of a living thing to make it different than it is naturally.
Apparently, selective breeding is one type of genetic modification that humans have been using for a very long time. In the selective breeding process, foreign genetic material is not added; instead, certain genetic material is separated or concentrated and/or combined with other selected genetic material. Generally, selective breeding was accomplished by carefully breeding parents that show the desired characteristics. For example, via natural mutation, a seedless grape was born; basically, due to a genetic defect, the seeds in the grape did not harden so the grape was essentially seedless. Our ancestors took the seedless grape and cross bred it with other grapes to create more seedless grapes. Thus, today, we have all types of seedless grapes which are the by-product of selective breeding.
Another type of genetic modification is genetic engineering which is mentioned on most mainstream candy bars and food items. Genetic engineering is the splicing, dicing, adding, and manipulating of genes to create a desired by-product. It is much faster than the cross breeding method used for many years by our ancestors. You basically remove a desired gene from plant one and add it to plant two so that plant two will have the desired gene found in plant one. It definitely seems to be a lot more unnatural than the selective breeding method; the genetic engineering process may create a risk of potential unforeseeable side effects. Yet, it is difficult to know if these side effects will be harmful, helpful, both, or wholly dependent upon the consumer.
Bottom line: knowing that genetic engineering was used to create the food item allows you to choose whether to eat or skip the item, and choice is the basis of free will. GMO labeling gives you that choice.
If you don’t care, then you don’t have to read the label. However, for those of us who want to know these things, I applaud Vermont for its laws mandating the label, and I hope that other states follow suit.