Going to the grocery store these days is similar to walking through a mine-field. We are bombarded by shelf after shelf of products, and frequently fill our shopping carts without throughly reading or understanding the labels of the foods we purchase. Food recalls and food borne illnesses have become common place, and due to these issues (and public outcry) the FDA now requires fruits and vegetables to be labeled with their Country of Orgin. Other labeling practices that help consumers include listing the top 8 food allergens, and the clear labeling of Organic items. But what about Genetically Modified Organisms in our foods? The FDA does not require labeling of these products. For those concerned with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in our food supply, the Non-GMO Project has just made our life a little easier. The Project has developed a free application that can be downloaded to your i-phone or i-tunes player. For those who don’t have these handy little devices, a visit their website provides a Shopping Guide that can be printed.
What is the Non-GMO Project?
The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization, created by leaders representing all sectors of the organic and natural products industry in the U.S. and Canada. This group provides consumers with up to date information on organic and natural products. All products have been verified to be produced without genetic engineering or recombinant DNA technologies.
What are GMOs?
Genetic modification employs recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) technology to alter the genes of microorganisms, plants, and animals. GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”) are organisms that have been created through the gene-splicing techniques of biotechnology (also refered to as genetic engineering, or GE). This science allows DNA from one species to be injected into another species in a laboratory, thus creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Better Living Through Science?
According to the Institute of Food Technologists, genetically modified foods should not be labeled because “labels are likely to mislead consumers by implying a warning. . . . Moreover, labeling rDNA-engineered foods would not be economically prudent.” The European Union, Australia, Japan, and many other Countries believe that GMOs are not safe for human or animal consumption. Significant restrictions, including requirements for tracing the genetic origin of each food ingredient, or complete bans on the production of GMOs have been instituted. Those countries that allow restricted amounts of GMO products in grocery stores are clearly labeled. The United States Food and Drug Administration believes that GMOs are safe for the U.S. Consumer, based on studies conducted by the companies that create, produce, and profit from the sales of these GMO products. Polls show that health-conscious shoppers are concerned by the lack of independent testing, and the health impact of consuming these products. Unfortunately, each year more items fill our grocery stores that have been Genetically Engineered.
What Items Are Typically GMO?
Soy, Corn, Canola Oil, Potatos, Tomatos, Sugar Beets, Squash, Hawaiian Papaya, Sugar Cane, Corn Syrup, and Rice are among the items that are frequently GMO. It is estimated that GMOs are now present in more than 80% of packaged/processed food products we consume in the U.S. and Canada.
To learn more about the Non-GMO Project, or to download the shopping guide, visit their website: http://www.nongmoproject.org