We Know What's For Dinner But Not What's On Our Plates...
...and the odds are good that whatever's there has been genetically altered because genetically engineered (GE) organisms are all over our food supply. Yet you wouldn't know it from reading food labels because that information is missing in action. This needs to change, and here's what you need to know about making that happen.
GE plants or animals have had their genes altered in order to allow the organism in question to do new things that help food producers. That could mean corn that makes its own pesticides, tomatoes that grow faster, salmon that produce extra growth hormones, or almost anything else.
The problem is that nobody really knows if GE foods are actually safe to eat, and there are more than a few hints that they might not be. Studies at the National Academy of Sciences have found that GE foods could potentially be introducing new allergens and toxins into our food supply and environment, and scientists have indeed found things like those aforementioned self-manufactured corn pesticides in human blood and umbilical tissue to name just one example.
With roughly 90% of all U.S. corn, 94% of its soybeans, and 90% of its cottonseed now being grown from GE seed, and an estimated 60-70% of all processed foods containing GE ingredients, it's something to think about.
A lot people also think it's something we should know about, and they've petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to require that all foods containing GMOs be labeled as such, a step that a truly incredible 90+% of all Americans (i.e. just about every man, woman, and child in the nation) support.
It's a simple thing to ask for, and hardly a stretch. We just want to know what's in our food. Manufacturers already have to tell us what ingredients they use, whether any allergens were involved, and which nutrients their products contain among other things. We simply want to add genetic engineering to the list because like all those other disclosures, we have a right to know and to make the most informed food decisions possible for our families.
There is, however, much resistance to this idea from food producers and purveyors of GMO seeds and technologies, and although I find nothing funny about GMOs, I am more than a little amused by the very telling fact that so many of the food industry's usual free-market flag wavers seem so very afraid of actually giving the free market the freedom to decide for itself whether it wants its supper genetically modified.
Here's the most important thing of all: Just Label It, the coalition behind the labeling movement is hoping to get the public to add one million comments to the petition they've submitted to the FDA by the mid-April end of the public comment period. You can do that and learn more about GMO foods and your right to know at their website. It's worth your time -- this is an important part of building a healthy and sustainable future. If you'd like a primer on GE foods and why we should be concerned about feeding them to our families, Food & Water Watch offers an excellent overview. Finally, if you'd like to keep these so-called "frankenfoods" out of your kitchen, choose organic items. By law, they're not allowed to have their genes scrambled.