Eating healthy used to be straightforward. It was easy to tell the difference between “junk food” and “healthy food.” Today, it’s not so easy. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to know what’s good for you and what may have some experimental products in it. The FDA says that manufacturers don’t have to tell us.
Got GMO? It’s None of Your Business
Shortly after the turn of this century, food stuff manufacturers began putting Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into our country’s food supply. From breakfast cereal to salad dressings, from sodas to snack foods, GMOs may be present. But we have no way of really knowing.
According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, 75 to 80 percent of the the traditionally processed foods in the U.S. contain GMOs. That’s as many as 4 out of 5 items on the grocery shelves contain GMOs. Or to make it more personal, 4 out of every 5 items in your shopping cart have an ingredient list that include at least one GMO.
But avoiding GMOs is nearly impossible here in the U.S. because the FDA has decided that we, as the consumers of the food, do not need to know. Their actual cited reason was “labeling is generally not necessary because the genetic modification does not materially change the food” according a recent New York Times article.
The use of a plant or animal whose DNA has been genetically manipulated in a lab doesn’t substantially change the food? Really? Let’s think about that for a minute.
What is GMO?
So what exactly is a Genetically Modified Organism?
Laboratory scientists genetically modify an organism by inserting or removing certain genes from the organism’s DNA to express a new trait or characteristic in the targeted organism. Frequently this involves inserting genes from one species into the DNA sequence of another. For example, genes from a bacteria may be introduced into a tomato plant so that it becomes more tolerant to cold weather.
The most recognized and commonly used example of a GMO is “Round Up Ready” seeds from Monsanto. The company, which manufacturers and sales the Round Up herbicide also created a GMO that is unaffected by the herbicide. Farmer cans buy and plant corn seeds form Monsanto and then spray Round Up, also from Monsanto, directly on the field. It will kill the weeds and leave the GMO corn unaffected.
Nice. But is it safe to eat?
Why Not Just Label It Already?
According to the USDA’s own statistics, roughly 94 percent of all soybeans grown in the U.S. are GMO; 75 percent of the corn is GMO. That’s a lot! And Monsanto and the farmers who depend on Monsanto’s products are concerned that labeling food products will tarnish their brand.
But Americans want to know. According to a 2010 research poll conducted by Thomson Reuters-NPR, 90 percent of Americans said that they would like to have food products that contain GMOs labelled as such. 9 out of every 10 Americans. That’s usually enough people to get something done. So, what’s the hold up?
Money. And lots of it. You see, Monsanto has a lot at stake in this and they have a lot of money and influence. They also have a lot of former employees who hold positions within governmental agencies such as the FDA, the EPA, and the Supreme Court. These include Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas and Deputy Commissioner of Foods at the FDA Michael Taylor, among others.
Perhaps that’s why the FDA has decided that there is no need to honor the wishes of 90 percent of Americans and label foods that contain GMOs as such.
Americans are not alone. The people and governments of Europe are concerned about GMOs, too. They have vehemently resisted GMOs in their food supply for years. In 2003, legislation was passed in Europe requiring strict labeling of foods containing GMOs. In 2004, the rules were strengthened and re-enforced.
According the Monsanto Wikipedia page: “Among the documents obtained by Wikileaks include Monsanto asking the US government to maintain its strong pressure on the European Union legislation for the introduction of GMO foods. After moves in France to ban a Monsanto GM corn variety, the US embassy recommended that ‘we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU’.”
Why Should You Care?
As preppers and homesteaders, Laura and I raise as much of our own food as we can. We plant a garden each year, raise our own beef, chicken, rabbits, etc. We do this to help make sure we know how should it come to that, but we also like to know what is, and just as importantly what is not, in our food. We don’t want growth hormones or antibiotics in our food.
But we cannot raise everything that we eat. There are some things that we must buy from the grocery store. Don’t we have a right to know what’s in our food? And shouldn’t that right include GMOs?
We think so.