If you have read other pages on this site, it will come as no surprise that we have concerns about genetically modified (GMO) foods. You will also see the term GEO (Genetically Engineered Organism) and GM and GE are also used.
Our biggest concern is that, in the United States, we have no laws that require manufacturers and producers of GMO foods to label them with that information; that is, we can’t tell if they are GMO or natural foods. People may want to eat these foods and take their chances, but if they are not labeled as genetically modified, you are rolling the dice every time you buy and eat processed foods, because some 75% of the processed food in the U.S. has some kind of genetic modification.
First, some background.
What are Genetically Modified Organisms?
This definition comes from The Committee For the Right To Know in Chico, CA, and is quoted directly from their literature.
“Genetically modified organisms are food you eat such as corn and soy that were manipulated in a laboratory by forcing DNA from a completely foreign species into them.”
“This foreign DNA may include a virus, bacteria such as e. coli bacteria, an insect, an animal or even humans, resulting in traits that would be virtually impossible to obtain with natural processes.”
That is, genetic engineering techniques were used to create an entirely new organism that could not have been done by nature. In the past, this was done to a limited degree by selective breeding, picking the one offspring that has the trait that you want and propagating that over and over again, much like Gregor Mendal did centuries ago. Along the way, people observed the many generations they produced and saw when something didn’t work over time (the plants became weaker, lacked the same nutritional content, etc.) But that’s a long, slow (and natural) process.
Now that we have biotech equipment, we can insert things right into the DNA in the first generation. No health testing is required.
Foods are genetically engineered to create or enhance traits that would seem desirable, such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content. Great! That means that the producers can now use stronger herbicides and the primary crop won’t die, just the weeds. The primary crop will still have herbicides all over it and head right for our tables. Pesticides and herbicides are impossible to wash off completely. Do we have to pay extra to get herbicides in our food?
If you have read our other pages on eating foods doused continually with pesticides or herbicides, then you will know that we are very concerned about the fouling of our food supply with chemical additives, only one example of which are pesticides and herbicides. Our bodies were not designed to sift out these dangerous substances and eliminate them once ingested, absorbing only the healthy part of the plants and animals. These chemicals stay in our bodies and wreak havoc on our endocrine system (hormonal system–our bodies chemical messenger systems), our cells, our brains, etc.
It is interesting to note that at least 50 other countries already require labels for GMO foods, but the U.S. has not required it, largely as a result of a powerful lobby by the large corporate manufacturers of GMO foods.
We would like to see these foods carry a label so every person who is paying attention can decide for him or herself (and their children) whether or not to eat this stuff.
States that are putting this on the ballot:
California—Please sign the petition at www.labelgmos.org to put this issue on the ballot in 2012 as an initiative.
If you know of other states that have active efforts to vote to label GMO foods, please tell us in the Comment section below and we’ll add it to this page!
For More Information
If you would like to learn more about genetically modified foods, here are some resources:
Deborah B. Whitman, “Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?”, ProQuest, http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.php, October 26, 2011.
World Health Organization, “20 questions on genetically modified foods,” http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/biotech/20questions/en/, Food Safety, October 26, 2011.
“Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms,” Human Genome Project Information, http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/gmfood.shtml , October 26, 2011.
“What’s a GMO?”, Say No To GMOs: Getting Started, http://www.saynotogmos.org/, October 26, 2011.