Genetically Modified Food Should be Labeled!

Today I want to share a few more thoughts related to my Monday post Why You Should be Concerned About Roundup.  The message I wanted to get through on Monday was that a) glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been linked to birth defects and various cancers and b) Roundup is likely finding its way into our food supply via genetically modified crops.  Today I want to talk just a little bit more about this idea of genetically modified crops finding their way into what we eat.

First I would like to direct your attention to an organization called the Organic Consumers Association, which

deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics. We are the only organization in the US focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation’s estimated 50 million organic and socially responsible consumers. 

One of their campaigns is called “Millions Against Monsanto,” whose primary goal is to require the labeling of foods that are themselves genetically modified, foods that contain genetically modified ingredients and meat, pork and poultry that has been raised on CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), where the primary food source is genetically modified.  Such labeling is already required in Europe, and as a result, very little food products contain  GMOs (genetically modified organisms).  What has happened in Europe is that people do not want to see genetically modified ingredients in their food, and the labeling requirement has the effect of encouraging companies to avoid such products.   To learn a little bit more about the campaign you can watch this short video:

If you are interested, you can sign the Truth-In-Labeling Petition.

Another video clip you might learn something from is “How to Identify GMOs Sold in Whole Foods Market”, below.  Now you could easily do this in any supermarket, and by including this video I am not coming down on Whole Foods.  The truth is that because there is no genetic labeling requirement in the US, looking for GMOs would probably be even easier at other, more “traditional” supermarkets.  I think the point of doing this at Whole Foods is to show that even when you are shopping in a store that does a lot more to provide healthy, organic choices, GMOs are still lurking.

One of the things I learned from watching this video clip is that when an ingredient is listed as “sugar” it is most likely beet sugar, which can come from genetically modified sugar beets.  “Cane sugar” is not currently genetically modified.  Kelloggs apparently uses genetically modified beet sugar in its cereals.  When the Organic Consumers Association threatened to boycott Kelloggs, the response was:

“consumer concerns about the usage of biotech ingredients in food production are low.”

Of note is that all Kellogg’s products sold in Europe do not contain GMOs. 

While I have already written a post about dairy titled The New Government Food Plate and Dairy, another concern involving dairy and GMOs is the recently approved use of genetically modified alfalfa as feed for dairy cows.  Dean Foods, one of the largest producers of milk in this country, now uses genetically modified alfalfa in their feed.  So like the genetically modified corn that is being fed to cattle, a similar situation is now taking place with dairy cattle.  As I said on Monday, you should be concerned with what you eat eats, in this case, what dairy cattle are eating. 

I am going to leave you with a final, chilling quote from Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications: 

Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food.  Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible.  Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job. 

Maybe you can take comfort in the fact that the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Michael Taylor, is a former Monsanto executive.   

I promise to come back Friday with something a bit lighter!

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