Label GMO foods

Published Jun 5, 2013 at 4:02 am (Updated Jun 3, 2013 at 10:47 am)

A hot topic in food-related news lately has been that of GMOs – genetically modified organisms – and consumers’ rights to know if they are consuming products that contain them. Last week, in Connecticut, the senate passed legislation that will require GMO foods be labeled as such, so long as five other states with a total population of 25 million also require them. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island must comprise two of the states – this is so that foods do not require special Connecticut-specific labels.

Because of the contingency, the legislation, while a victory for the people, is being billed a compromise.

Examples of genetically modified organisms in food include crops that have been modified to resist pests (so as to not need chemical pesticides), crops modified to have a longer shelf life, and crops modified to resist viruses that could attack them.

While that doesn’t sound like a bad deal on the surface, keep in mind that other examples of genetically modified food products include meat and milk from cows that have been treated with rBST (also known as bovine growth hormone), which increases milk production. Despite initial claims that there was no difference between drinking the milk from a cow treated with rBST and one that hadn’t, in 2010 it was found that when the cows were treated with rBST, there is a higher fat content, lower protein content and the milk can turn sour sooner.

Some cotton plants are engineered to produce bt toxin – Bacillus thuringiensis, a biological pesticide. Seeds from these cotton plants are then pressed into cottonseed oil, which is the most common ingredient in margarine and vegetable oil. Does that sound like something you are comfortable ingesting?

It’s worth noting that Europe takes the matter so seriously that it has banned the importing of food with GMOs.

Other states should jump on board and require that foods containing GMOs be labeled as such, so that consumers can make their own decisions and be more aware of what they are putting into their bodies. The amount of processing, manipulation and desire to produce food quickly and cheaply is a large part of the reason so many Americans are in poor health. The Western Diet, as ours is known, is directly related to high rates of obeseity, cancer, heart disease and diabetes, not to mention a slew of other health issues that other countries that eat cleaner do not have.

Once again, we call for members of the United States government to break ties with organizations such as Monsanto, and do what’s right for the American people. After all, was it so controversial when the movement was made to list nutritional information or ingredients on food labels? No.

And it shouldn’t be when it comes to listing if the food or food product contains a GMO. We all have a right to know what we are putting into our bodies, and into the bodies of our children, our future.

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