Have you seen the little GMO-free labels on food? What do those mean, anyway?
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. The Institute for Responsible Technology defines a GMO as:
the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic.
Basically, foods or animals that have been genetically modified have had their DNA messed with. So it’s still simliar enough for the organisms to look and taste the same but there are small differences created by scientists.
Why modify genetics?
To make things better, faster, stronger. In plants, the genetic modifications are often to make the food mature faster so that more and more food can be made in less time, or to make the plant excrete chemicals that repel insects and predators. In animals, to make them resistant to certain illnesses.
What’s wrong with messing with genes?
The idea behind avoiding GMO’s is that we just aren’t sure what other effects genetic modifications have on people or animals who consume or use genetically modified species. It’s a relatively new science, and there’s basically no regulation. Again, the Institute for Responsible Technology has a list of 65 Health Risks, if you’re interested.
Most importantly: There have been NO long-term studies conducted on the safety of genetically engineered foods on humans.
Well, I never eat GMO’s so I don’t care.
What’s interesting about GMO’s is that they don’t have to be labeled or identified at all. That corn on the cob you just bought in the produce section of your local grocer? Very likely GMO. Most corn is at least partially genetically modified. As are many other fruits and veggies, but you would have no idea because the growers are not required to identify whether or not their crops have been genetically modified.
Update as of 05/2013:
During our March Against Monsanto, studies had shown that 80% to 90% of all foods that Americans consume contain GMO’s.
What can we do?
There is currently a law in process in the state of California, Proposition 37, to require the labeling of GMO foods. You can read more about it www.carighttoknow.org, by “Like”ing their Facebook Page or following California Right To Know on Twitter. If you are a California resident, please vote “Yes” on Proposition 37!
If you are NOT in California, you can still lend your voice to the petition on Care2 asking Walmart to start labeling GMO’s in it’s food. This is a very important campaign because Walmart is one of the top providers of foods in the entire U.S.!
Update as of 5/2013:
We saw the defeat of Proposition 37 in California, but a similar labeling law did pass in the state of Connecticut. Keep contacting your legislators to push for a bill in your state!
Thanks for your involvement, please leave me a comment to let me know if you participated in any of the actions!