Assuming that most of us readers are health conscious and concerned with the ingredients that we put into our bodies, GMO’s are not something that we are in favor of. On the other hand if GMO’s in your food do not concern you, they most definitely should. In today’s day and age we have a plentiful amount of information through the development of technology and science that we are educated on what ingredients are used in the foods we consume and how they affect our health.
Let’s begin by defining what GMO’s actually are. Many of us have read “GMO-free” or “Non-GMO” on several packages just as frequently (if not more) than “gluten-free”, “dairy-free”, and so on. This labeling is common in the food industry to allow buyers to understand the quality of food they are getting. GMO is an acronym for “Genetically Modified Organism”. GMO’s have two categories. The first being that any agricultural product that has been altered scientifically to change the way that it was found in nature and then is manufactured for consumers is considered a GMO. Processed foods are a very prevalent example of foods that have been genetically engineered. The nutrients within them have been altered scientifically which means that may not be as nutritious as if they were found organically in nature. The other category of GMO happens through the process of cross-pollination that can occur when certain crops have ancestors that have been genetically altered for commercial production or naturally by bees and wind. That being said, what is the actual harm to our bodies?
The Crops That Fall Into The First Category As High Risk Include:
- Sugar Beets
- Yellow Summer Squash
The Common Crops In The Second Category, Still At Risk Due To Cases Of Cross-Pollination Include:
- Table Beets
- Bok Choy
- Acorn Squash
Food and crops that are in danger of being considered GMO’s include many more than the brief list of foods mentioned above. Often times it can be difficult to know whether or not the foods you are eating are good or not for you. We know the rules of balance and moderation, but false labeling and claims can get quite tricky.
What Is The Easiest Way To Tell?
In hopes of making it easier for consumers to differentiate between foods that have been genetically modified versus those that have not, a seal with a little butterfly that you may recognize was developed and quickly spread across North America. The seal reads, “Non-GMO Project Verified”. Although many companies claim to be “GMO-free”, if they do not have the seal they have not gone through a third party verification process. The Non-GMO Project is the only organization and third party for all of the United States and Canada that offers independent verification. In fact, this may come as a shock to you but companies that often times claim to be free of GMO’s on their packaging are not even legally or scientifically defensible. This is concerning to hear, but at least we know that with the proper seal we should be in good hands right?
Well, that is the idea at least. In the past month there has been debate over a very important bill for our food industry. The bill was rallied in hopes of preventing the requirement of food labeling amongst the states. There have been a few states, such as Vermont, that will require the foods on the market to be labeled as free of genetically modified organisms in the upcoming months. Requirements such as these make it extremely difficult for farmers and workers in the agricultural business to keep up. They must be extremely careful of the crops and from there on, the producers and manufacturers must be extremely cautious as well. Although, as consumers it may seem like a no brainer, of course we should have the right to know whether or not the foods that we purchase have been genetically engineered or not. That is one thing, but the issue lies in the term requirement. As more and more states adopt it as a requirement that the foods that are being sold by grocers state that they are free of GMO’s, it will not be easy. GMO’s are not banned in any way, they are considered safe to eat. By making for certain that all foods are labeled as GMO-free, businesses are going to face a lot of strife. This will be very costly to reconfigure and could put a large damper on the some of the successful icons in the food industry.
As of March 16th 2016, The Biotechnology Labeling Solutions Act did not pass in the Senate. While the bill needed 60 votes, it only received 48. This bill would have had the power to overrule the state’s requirements of food labeling like Vermont was going to enact in July. It would have removed the restrictions that are already in place regarding farms with GMO’s and organic farms. There are already around 150 requirements in place to prevent organic farms being contaminated, but these would no longer be if the bill had been passed. Lastly, the bill would promote GMO’s in a way that they would not be recognized in the way that they are now, as “unhealthy”.
Ultimately, this debate could go on and on depending on where you stand and your environment. Seeing as how it was not passed yet, it is safe to say that you should take advantage of the package labeling and use it as a tool to make you more aware of what has been certified as healthy for your body. The next time you go to buy a bag of popcorn, if you can remember, make sure and look for that little butterfly seal that says “Non-GMO project” for an assured decision. As for the products that you purchase that do not necessarily have this verification, you do not have to be skeptic but just be aware. It is always important to be informed on the food, nutrients, or lack thereof that you are consuming.
Strom, Stephanie. “Bill to Stop States Requiring Labeling of GMO Foods Fails.”The New York Times. The New York Times, 2016. Web.
“GMO Food Labeling Bill Does Not Pass in Senate.” SFGate. Web
“Bill Blocking GMO Labels Stalls In Senate, But Battle Is Far From Over.” NPR. NPR. Web.