The Blue House national petition, which was established on 17 August, 2017 is a bulletin board that allows people to make their opinions known to the government in various areas, including politics, human rights, jobs and the future. There are also many petitions which are being discussed or have been resolved. Among these various petitions, GMO-related issues have been uploaded every year. The key to most of the petitions is to express discontent and concern about unproven safety and the lack of a system to regulate GMOs.
GMO foods refer to food products made from agricultural products that have been newly created through a modification of a gene recombinant. GMO food safety issues raised by citizens are contrary to the experts’ views. Indeed, the U.S., a major exporter of GMOs, maintains that there are no safety problems. However, all GMO foods have had to be labelled in all member countries of the European Union since 1998. Korea also stipulates that GMO must be marked if the GMO is more than 3 percent. However, there is an exception that if the finished product does not have GMO DNA due to a highly refined process, it is not necessary to mark it. In this regard, people insist that GMO foods should be marked even GMOs were used at all.
The GMO food petition – which began on 12 March, 2018 – surpassed 200,000 signatures within a month to receive an official response from the Blue House. The petitioner claimed that foods with GMOs had to be labelled without exception, insisted on banning the use of GMOs in public meals and school meals, and urged for a revision of relevant notices from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, which is not allowed to show Non-GMO. The government and the Blue House officials replied to the petitions that the consumer’s right to know must be guaranteed, but if the GMO system is changed and strengthened, there are many issues to consider in general, such as price hikes. And they said, for this reason, the reality is that there are differences in positions among government ministries and civic groups’ claims. In response to the petition about the ban on GMO use in public meals and school meals, they said that they can discuss about that after a system to indicate whether or not raw materials are GMO is implemented. In addition, they said the school’s food ingredients are decided by the school's head after deliberation with the school's steering committee, and most education offices recommend Non-GMO products. Finally, the government said, “we will do our best to ensure that social consultations on GMOs will work well within the framework, and we will always strive for safe food for the people.”
As food safety is an important issue, I hope that the government, civic groups, and the general public can take time to discuss the right solutions in the future, so that GMO-related policies can be improved to reduce citizens’ anxiety and concerns about the foods they eat.