Always at the forefront, Whole Foods Market is introducing a new label designed to inform consumers that a product has not been made from genetically modified ingredients. The label above will be plastered on Whole Food’s “365″ home brand products only after they have been tested by an independent third party, the Non-GMO Project.
There is no federal or local mandate to mark GMO products in the US today. According to FDA, as much as 75% of the food in an average supermarket contain some sort of GMO ingredient. Most likely suspects are corn and soy products. The FDA sees no difference between GMO and conventional products. At the same time, Whole Foods claims 80% of its customer would like to know if a product they are buying is GMO or not.
What you need to know:
GMO stands for genetically modified organism. Very smart scientists are able to alter the DNA of organisms and change their traits. The genetic engineering of crops and animals can bring about many benefits to humanity, but has the potential to wreak havoc as well.
The supporters of GMO crops claim that through science, crop yields are higher, there is greater resistance to pests and draughts, and nutrition can be improved as well. The best known example is golden rice, which contains beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A). In many poor parts of the world where rice is the staple grain, children are deficient in vitamin A. This deficiency kills 1-2 million people annually. You can see why golden rice could be a solution.
However, golden rice has not yet been approved for human consumption, and this brings us to the detractors camp. Consumer groups in the US, as well as governments in many countries across the world, are vehemently opposed to genetic modification of food. Some say this is unnecessary meddling with natural evolution. Others fear that alongside with desirable changes in a plant, there may be others that science is not presently able to comprehend. What if GMO products introduce new allergens and new diseases. What are the longterm human consumption effects?
The problem with GMO crops is that you can’t go back. Cross contamination across neighboring fields will eventually cause all crops to carry the GMO traits, and if we ever discover a problem, the world will be out of the original non-GMO stock.
Without choosing sides on this debate, we are certain of one thing – consumers have a right to know if their food comes from GMO’s or not.
What to do at the supermarket:
The only place to get an answer is Whole Foods Markets or by buying organic. In both cases, you’ll be paying more.
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