by Wendy Kirby
Do you know exactly what is in the food you are buying? Many Americans have become accustomed to reading the labels of the food they are purchasing. Verifying that the food is safe to eat, whether there is a need to safeguard against food allergies, or simply a matter of preference for ingredients, has become commonplace for many throughout this country. This is a smart habit, but it’s only useful if something is actually written on the label. Are you aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require labeling foods that have been genetically engineered in laboratories or contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?
The term “GMO” is most commonly used to refer to crop plants created for human or animal consumption that have been altered or engineered to enhance certain desired traits. The food has been modified because there is some perceived advantage, either to the producer or consumer of these foods. Corn, for example, can be engineered with a gene from another organism, to create a type of corn that will produce its own pesticides against insects. Crop protection is an important concern for producers of corn, but at what risk to the consumer? The corn, once engineered, is no longer a natural product.
Americans are left without a choice as to whether or not they want to consume genetically engineered foods. An estimated 80% of processed foods contain GMOs. While the safest bet is to stay away from processed foods, that still leaves you with the possibility of exposure through the other 20% of food on the market.
This infographic provides a world of information about understanding GMOs and reading food labels.
Many countries throughout the world, including Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand (see breaking news of January 30, 2012; this is changing in New Zealand), require the labeling of GMOs. Americans have a right to know what they are buying too. This is not to suggest that Americans will choose not to buy GMOs, but only that they have a right to know what they are buying.
Benefits of GMOs may include new products and growing techniques, improved animal health and diagnostic methods, and more environmentally friendly bioherbicides and bioinsecticides. The focus though is on the unknown. Controversy surrounds the possible concerns with potential health impacts, including allergens, transfer of antibiotic resistance markers and other unknown health effects.
Jeffrey M. Smith’s 4-part video “The GMO Threat” is an excellent overview of the subject. Click here to watch it.
If you are interested in learning more about GMOs and what type of action you can take to encourage regulation in the U.S., please visit Just Label It.
- Food Inc director produces Right-to-Know GMO short
- Breaking News Regarding GMOs and the Beginnings of a Landslide
- What’s a GMO?