Genetically Modified Organisms – To Label or Not?

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July 29, 2014

One of the hot topics around our dinner table is whether or not we need to label food that contains genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). GMO’s are defined as an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Organisms that have been genetically modified include micro-organisms such as bacteria and yeast, insects, plants, fish, and mammals. So, why do we care?

Genetically Modified Organisms – To Label or Not?

The heart of the matter is that consumers want the right to know what is in the food they eat and feed their families.  Just like I want to know whether or not the food I’m eating contains high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, I want to know if it contains GMO’s. Why? There are a lot of reasons but here are the big ones.

  • The health consequences of eating foods that contain GMO’s are largely unknown and unstudied. There just haven’t been enough studies done to determine their safety. Remember when trans fats where all the rage and you could find them in everything? It’s only now, years later, that we know they are not safe and manufacturers have to remove them from products.
  • The European Union has banned the sale of foods that contain GMO’s as have Australia, Japan, the UK and dozens of other countries. We need to at least be able to make individual choices about whether or not we eat foods containing GMO’s in this country. We cannot do that if they are not labeled.
  • GMO seeds contaminate the rest of the seeds and once that happens, it cannot be undone. Do you love the taste of that heirloom tomato in your garden or at the farmer’s market? You’d better hope it’s not contaminated by GMO seeds in the lot next to yours.
  • It’s bad for nature. Did you know that Monarch butterflies have died after the milkweed they feed from was cross-pollinated from Bt corn which made it toxic to them?

Foods most likely to be genetically modified include tomatoes, papaya, rice, potatoes, corn, soy, milk (rBGH), and canola oil. Think of all the foods in your grocery store that contain these products. Think of how many you feed your children. You have no way of knowing whether or not these foods are GMO or not because there is no law that requires their labeling. Just a hint, it’s estimated that over 80% of the products on your grocery store shelves contain GMO’s.

Whether you’re concerned about GMO’s is not the issue. The issue is that we need the right to choose and we cannot make an informed decision unless these foods are labeled. Right now, the only way I can be certain that the foods I buy do not contain GMO’s is to purchase all organic products.  Don’t we all have the right to choose for ourselves?

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