GMOs: Do You Know What’s In Your Food?

Recently I have become extremely interested in the debate surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This is due mostly to the fact that  supporters include Joe Mercola, the Organic Consumers Fund, Nature’s Path Foods, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Clif Bar and Co., and Annie’s. Opponents include Monsanto, Dupont, PepsiCo, DOW, Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, Nestle, General Mills and Kelloggs. Any questions about which side is which?

Companies such as Nature’s Variety pay big bucks for this label to be on their food. They hope to level the playing field by having huge multi-national corporations declare what their products contain. Photo credit @ decorat/Flickr

No, but in all seriousness: whatever the vote ends up being, it sure is going to be interesting. When I first started hearing about this issue, my knee-jerk reaction was “holy sweet corn, they’re poisoning me.” But after reading several articles by geneticists and members of the scientific community, I can see that they actually have a pretty good handle on how these plants affect us. Their aims are certainly noble: curing malnutrition with nutrient-packed potatoes, distributing vaccines through foods that don’t spoil as quickly as traditional vaccines, and limiting the use of harmful spray-pesticides which kill more wildlife than targeted genetic pesticides.

But the safety of the science and the benefits of GMO foods isn’t the issue for most consumers: it’s the way the companies who own seed patents and have a monetary interest go about systematically lying to their consumers.

According to Trudy Bialic with PCC Natural Markets, who looks over petitions to require food companies to label their foods, “It’s a simple right to know issue.”

Forty-nine countries around the world, including the European Union, Russia, China, require mandatory labeling laws. In Europe, only 5 percent of food sold contains GMOs, a figure that continues to shrink, according to research.

“We’re simply asking to be given the same transparency that they’re already giving these other customers,” says Bialic

And why shouldn’t Americans have the same right to know as our European contemporaries? Some say that the costs of adding this label will cost the agricultural sector a fortune. But realistically, these corporations have been required for years to label their foods: we’ve had nutrition labels since 1990, we got country of origin labeling in 2002, and we got trans-fat  labeling in 2006. Clearly the addition of these various labels did not cause Americans to stop eating food…

Ultimately, it’s just a simple label: if the science behind GMOs is so sound, and they are so beneficial for the environment (according to ads by Monsanto), then why wouldn’t companies want to label their food as such?

For more information on GMOs.

Everything you wanted to know about Prop 37 and more.

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