Author’s Blog
8th Mar

2017

Always Trying to Do Better Than Nature

GMO ShoppingHave you been following the fight to get labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs)? As “right to know” fights go, the public comment response has been pretty impressive. The law was passed by Congress last year, but those of us who believe GMO foods have potentially serious health implications feel that it didn’t go far enough.

Here’s the law (with all of its compromises) – Producers can choose from a few options: words on a package’s label; a symbol (which has yet to be designed); an 800 number that consumers can call to get information on the product’s GM ingredients; or a QR code on the package that has to be scanned with a smart phone. What busy mom will take the time to do this while herding two small kids, checking her shopping list and steering a shopping cart through a crowded supermarket aisle? And, of course, there actually are people who don’t have smart phones!

Then there are the exemptions from labeling – the most ubiquitous GM crops – corn, soy, canola and sugar beets – would require labeling only in their unrefined state. Most processed foods and highly-refined products that typically contain these and other GM ingredients will not have to be labeled. Meat and other products, like milk or butter, from animals that consumed GMO feed, will not have to be labeled.

The only goods news is that the law allows organic growers and manufacturers who avoid GM ingredients to say on the packaging that their food DOES NOT contain GMOs.

But that’s not all in the world of “fooling with mother nature!” The biotech industry has been busy and a new generation of food crops known as genetically-edited (GECs) rather than genetically modified is coming to market, and for now, they are exempt from current regulations. Instead of introducing foreign bacteria and viruses into the DNA of a plant or animal cell (GMO technology), gene-editing cuts out genes and splices in new ones of an organism’s own native genome.

Without knowing all the possible negative outcomes of food growing technologies, it’s always good advice to eat foods that you grow yourself or those that are grown by your local organic farmers. As far as prepared foods go, stick to those companies that have a reputation for insuring the purity of their ingredients and that label their products as organic.

 

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