GMO foods are a hotly debated topic in the past few years, and especially in the last month. We haven’t addressed this issue and thought it might be time to share some thoughts.
GMO (Genetically modified organism) or GE (genetically engineered) foods were introduced into our food supply less than 20 years ago. Today, about 90% of soy, corn, cotton, and canola seeds are genetically modified. Which means that any food made from any of these ingredients is considered “genetically modified”. That includes chocolate (contains soy lecithin), snacks (fried in oil), vegetarian dishes (tofu is made from soy), and most fast foods.
If you want to understand the science behind GMO, there are several good books to read. You can also find good points being argued by both sides online.
The current state of affairs: The US has decided to move full speed ahead with GMO crops. Europe still bans them.
“So are GMO foods good or bad for me?” you must be asking.
To be honest, the matter is very confusing. The promises to better feed the growing population of earth clash with apocalyptic warnings of doom to humanity.
Whether GMO is safe or not, we feel very strongly about about people’s right to know what they are buying. And what’s in it. It is inexcusable that food labels do not clearly state whether ingredients are sourced from GMO plants or not.
Today, you must assume that any processed food purchased in a supermarket has GMO ingredients.
But consumers who care enough about this matter have a choice. If we want to make sure we are getting no GMO ingredients, we can buy organic food. Organic growers are not allowed to use genetically modified seeds.
But all that is abut to change.
In late January, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack decided to approve GMO alfalfa. To be more precise, he decided to completely deregulate genetically engineered alfalfa. Partial regulation, while still far from perfect, would at least have placed restrictions on growers of GMO alfalfa to decrease the risks of cross-pollination with non-GMO alfalfa.
According t0 Samuel Fromartz, an expert on the organic industry,
This move had been opposed by organic farmers and consumers because of the strong possibility that genetically modified alfalfa will cross-pollinate non-GM alfalfa. This has been recognized by the Supreme Court as potentially harmful to the organic sector, since organic foods cannot be produced with genetically modified crops. Once organic livestock are fed GM alfalfa, they can no longer be called organic. read more…
If genetically modified alfalfa, a staple of pastured livestock, finds its way to organic farms, the organic dairy and meat sectors are in danger of collapse. Which means that those of us who do pay the extra dollars for organic, will likely see prices rise even higher, very soon.
Unfortunately, once cross-pollination happens, there is no way back. Unlike an ingredient you can add to – or remove from – a processed food, if 100% of a crop will become modified, that’s it, no way to go back to the previous “version”.
And that’s exactly the fear of the organic sector. If you want to learn more about this and do something – take a look at the Non GMO Project.
This is certainly an important war to wage. Thankfully, there are many groups, severely underfunded, that are relentlessly battling the political / agricultural ties ($500M in lobbying efforts in the last 10 years) that have led to the alfalfa and other decisions.
Unfortunately, there are many more battles to wage for our health and nutrition. So with your permission, over here at Fooducate we’ll continue to focus mostly on nutrition, labeling and food processing.