Bittman asks the GMO labeling question + elicits other unanswered questions

Click here to read Mark Bittman's column in the NY Times about the lack of GMO information made available to consumers on labels. Bittman asks quite a fair question: Why aren't GMO foods labeled?...and, in reading the article, you'll find it brings up many more.

The whole certification and labeling system is certainly a backwards situation and rife with inequities: Farmers who grow organic foods must get special certification and their products are labeled as such; yet they receive no funding from government subsidies compared to their conventional counterparts. Meanwhile, farmers who grow "conventional" produce and likely use genetically modified seeds, organisms or other unnatural technology (through no fault of their own, but as a result of screwed-up, skewed farm and growing policies) get away without punishment AND their products are sold as the norm.

As eaters, we've become accustomed to assuming that food should be grown with harmful chemicals, foreign genes and other odd things, yet we revel when we find "organic" goods and/or complain about a slightly higher cost*. (*To this argument, I'd point out that if the externalities of "conventional" foods were taken into account [transport, environmental, labor costs], the prices would be much higher). I'm not saying that organic isn't without its own problems (issues of scale, resource use, "organic" fruit snacks[!], etc.), but shouldn't we demand clearer labeling of our food? GMOs are everywhere, and I understand that perhaps a "contains" or "made from GMO"-label isn't exactly a selling point. But, why not, if they're supposedly not harmful, according to their manufacturers? Don't consumers have the right to know what's in their food and, if in fact, it's been manipulated?

I'd like to see more research done outside of those companies who manufacture and defend GMOs. It's immensely irresponsible and also incredibly lazy of our government (FDA) to simply take their word for it. As Bittman points out, the positive claims for use of GMOs are not as clear cut:
G.E. products may grow faster, require fewer pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides, and reduce stress on land, water and other resources; they may be more profitable to farmers. But many of these claims are in dispute, and advances in conventional agriculture, some as simple as drip irrigation, may achieve these same goals more simply. Certainly conventional agriculture is more affordable for poor farmers, and most of the worlds’ farmers are poor. (The surge in suicides among Indian farmers has been attributed by some, at least in part, to G.E. crops, and it’s entirely possible that what’s needed to feed the world’s hungry is not new technology but a better distribution system and a reduction of waste.)
If proponents claim that genetic engineering has the potential to feed the world and provide food security, why isn't there more transparency? Well, yeah, duh, obviously profits and politics are behind it, but my point is: If GMOs are considered the great hope in feeding the masses, don't the masses have the right to know what they're eating?

Side note: I want to try to break up my rants on GMOs with some photos, and, since the issue shows no signs of going away, does anyone have any ideas about graphics? I'd love ideas!