We often get requests by Fooducate app users to provide GMO (genetically modified organism) information on products. We respond that our analysis is based on information presented on the products package. And product packages do not have this info to offer. We also tell people to assume that the majority of their packaged groceries do include GMO ingredients. Those that don’t want GMO product should buy certified organic products or look for a “No GMO” label that has started to crop up on a few hundreds of products (out of hundreds of thousands in the US).
To understand how we got here, a bit of history. In 1994, the FDA approved the first genetically modified organism for human consumption,a tomato. The FDA also decided that there is no need to label the genetically modified tomato any differently. The logic: from a food safety perspective, GM food is similar to conventional food. Labeling GMOs would confuse folks, causing us to think the GM tomato was inferior in some way.
Fast forward almost 20 years, and today, 90% of corn, soy, and sugar beets grown in the US are genetically modified. In Europe, where governments tend to listen more to their constituents, GM crops did not take off. Consumers demanded, and got, labels on products that included genetically modified ingredients. As a result, manufacturers in the UK and others decided to work with traditional crops instead.
Whether GM crops are dangerous to our health or not is a point being argued by scientists on both sides. The argument may take years to settle. But in the meantime, shouldn’t consumers at least have the ability to choose?
According to the powerful agricultural lobbies – NO.
But consumer groups are not giving up. In the last few weeks and months there is a renewed demand. Several states are considering legislation demanding GMO labeling, with California apparently the closest to getting it done. For more information, take a look at these resources:
In California – www.labelgmos.org
According to polls, over 90% of Americans would like to see GMO labeling on their food. What about you?