So the fear is likely to stay, at least until time lessens its punch. And that means we are going to have to have GM labels, for people have every right to be informed about something they fear.
What should these labels be like? A label that only says "GM FOOD" simply acts as a brand -- like a POISON label, it shouts a warning to the public of lurking danger. Why not instead have a GM label that provides information to the consumer, that tells the customer what regulators know about that product?
Here are the sorts of GM labels I would like to see:
PROCESS LABEL (for Bt corn): The production of this food was made more efficient by the addition of genes that made plants resistant to pests so that less pesticides were required to grow the crop.
PROCESS LABEL (for Roundup-ready soybeans): Genes have been added to this crop to render it resistant to herbicides-- this reduces soil erosion by lessening the need for weed-removing cultivation.
PRODUCT LABEL (for high beta-carotene rice): Genes have been added to this food to enhance its beta-carotene content and so combat vitamin A deficiency.
I suspect that the agriculture industry would embrace GM food labels that in each instance actually told consumers what has been done to the gene-modified crop. We should label our food just like we label our drugs, with clear statements from regulatory agencies about what was done to the product. Fear will lessen as GM crops hit the market that actually benefit consumers with better nutrition. With regulated informative labels like drugs now have, companies will in future be clamoring for approval to make improvement claims. Adding informative GM labels now will go a long way towards shortening the wait.