A hot issue in recent years has been foods made from genetically modified organisms (GMO), and the biggest controversy surrounding genetically engineered (GE) foods is whether they should be labeled as a GMO product. There are 64 countries that already label GMO foods, but not the United States. There are States within the US that require labeling of these foods, but it is not federally mandated, yet anyways. There are numerous organizations and millions of people strongly urging the government to require labeling of all foods that contain any genetically altered ingredients. It has been estimated that over 90% of Americans are in favor of labeling GMO foods.
Here is the definition of genetically engineered foods directly from the Monsanto website glossary:
“Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) – Plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs. In general, genes are taken (copied) from one organism that shows a desired trait and transferred into the genetic code of another organism.”
From the World Health Organization website:
“Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally, e.g. through the introduction of a gene from a different organism.”
The company that is most often brought up when genetically modified foods are discussed is Monsanto. Others that are mentioned frequently also include Dupont, Dow AgroSciences, and Cargill, but there are many others that are not equally well recognized. These companies produce genetically modified seeds, create pesticides, and work with other genetically modified crops to increase food production and cut production costs. Monsanto also formerly manufactured DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange, and bovine growth hormone.
Presently, there are only 2 States that already require GMO food labeling, they are Connecticut and Maine. There is active legislation ongoing in many other States about this controversial issue. States with ongoing legislation include: New York (legislators are getting ready to introduce a bill), Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. In some of these States laws did not pass during last week’s vote, but representatives in support of labeling GMO products are going to keep trying. If you want to monitor the status of GMO labeling laws, here is a helpful map.
A couple of counties in Hawaii and California banned GMO foods completely very recently, which is what many activists really want to see Nationwide.
Genetically modified food products scare many people because of the lack of testing that has been done on them. They have been tested, but not as extensively as they should be when it comes to long term health effects from them. Many would argue that genetically modified foods have not been proven safe at all since the testing has only been done on animals. They do not know of any health dangers at this time because none was noted in animals, but that does not mean in 10 – 20 years there will not be bad health effects on humankind. The uncertainty is what causes people to be scared, and rightfully so.
Millions of people in the US feel that if these products are going to be in our food, we should have the right to know about them. By labeling all GMO foods it will be much easier to avoid these types of products for everyone that worries about future health issues due to them. Transparency in food labels is something that would satisfy people across the nation since everyone has a right to know what they are putting in their bodies.
We would love to hear from you, how do you feel about genetically modified food products being labeled?