By: Elizabeth Whitman
Brazil's Ministry of Justice has fined six global food giants, including Nestlé and PepsiCo, for failing to disclose that their products contained genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, TeleSUR Thursday. The fines come during economically and politically turbulent times for Brazil, where embattled President Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment over alleged fiscal irresponsibility and the ongoing recession is to become the deepest in more than a century.
The fines came as a result of an inspection in 2010 by Brazil's Consumer Protection Agency which found that products from cake mix to snacks contained GMOs. Under , foods and ingredients must be labeled with the "transgenic" symbol if they contain genetically modified organisms.
By failing to label their products properly, those companies had violated Brazilians' consumer rights, the agency said. The companies have 10 days to file a defense, the Ministry of Justice.
The debate over genetically engineered foods and their labeling is rooted in the question of what effects or GMOs could pose to human health, with concerns ranging from allergic reactions to genetically altered foods to a loss of nutrition. Scientists have a consensus regarding the potential risks of humans eating genetically modified organisms. Popular opinion, meanwhile, shows the majority of Americans are wary of GMOs, even as awareness is . In a survey published in January 2015, the Pew Research Center that 57 percent of those surveyed said that they thought GMOs were generally unsafe to eat, while 88 percent of scientists surveyed said that GMOs were generally safe.