A Case for GMO Labeling

You’ve probably heard of GMOs in some capacity by now, especially if you’re from California. A call for GMO labeling has been the new movement that has emerged from organic food supporters and those following the “good food movement”, and the demand for transparency with companies is rising.

So maybe you’ve heard all these rumblings, but don’t know what a GMO food is. GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organisms,” which in basic terms means that if you’re eating a GMO food, it has been genetically modified in some way, and not just in the traditional sense of crossbreeding to get a crop with favorable characteristics. This crop has been altered in some way via gene-splicing that could not be created naturally.

Don’t panic just yet. Not all foods contain GMO ingredients, but there are some crops to look out for the most. Included on the “high-risk list,” however, is corn and soy, two ingredients that appear in tons of processed foods. There isn’t proof that all genetically modified foods carry risks, but there are some studies that have proven that modifying foods in this way can create toxic or allergenic reactions to foods. Read this document for more information on that.

The biggest problem with GMO foods is that there haven’t been enough studies to know for sure what long-term effects they might have on our bodies. They’re not regulated, they haven’t proven to be across-the-board safe, and there’s nothing natural about them. While some might assert that nothing bad will happen from eating GMO foods, what about those of us who don’t want to even take the risk?

That’s where the argument for increased transparency comes in. There are some companies that opt into getting verification that their products do not contain GMOs and their foods will tout a “Non-GMO Project Verified” Seal. If you don’t see this sign, it doesn’t mean that there are GMO ingredients in your food. All it means is that that particular company has not gotten their products verified, at least as of yet.

The bigger push coming in, aside from including Non-GMO seals on products, is a demand to label all products, including those that contain GMOs, so that customers know what they’re getting. The organization, Label GMOs, has been working hard since 2011 to educate consumers on GMOs and encourage them to demand labeling on products. They got a ballot initiative going in California to require all products to come with GMO labeling and while Prop 37 did not pass last year, it did open up the debate more about Californians and Americans having the right to know what’s in their food, just like 61 countries already have.

If you’re concerned about GMOs, what can you do, as a consumer? Vote with your wallet. Purchase products that are organic (those are required to not contain GMOs) or have the “Non-GMO Project Certified” Seals. Get a petition running in your state to get GMO labeling on the ballot, or if you see it come around in your state, raise awareness and vote in favor of labeling. Whether you are concerned about GMO safety or not, all Americans have a right to know what’s in their food.

If you’re like-minded and want to read more posts from someone who is a proud member of the Good Food Movement, please follow my blog and participate in the conversation at Dairy-Free State.