What are you really eating?

Organic or not?

Organic or not?

By Anisha Desai

Most Americans have no idea how long GMO foods have been incorporated into their everyday diet.  Scientists started to create GMO foods as early as the 1900’s. Many consumers are unfamiliar with the concept of GMO foods altogether.  GMO foods are included in virtually every meal consumed by the average American.  Not many Americans are aware of the extent GMO foods he or she is consuming because GMO products are not required to be labeled.  I think GMO products should be labeled because we have a right to know what type of foods we are putting into our bodies for both personal health and environmental concerns.

GMO stands for genetically modified organism.  GMO foods are foods that have been made up of genetically engineered organisms.  This means that the corn you are eating is not so much the original vegetable but it is rather a combination of mutilated organisms engineered to represent what would be corn.  These genetically modified foods currently compromise up to 80% of the conventional foods Americans consume.  For example, the U.S. is the world’s largest corn producer with approximately 88% of that corn production being genetically modified. Corn products are found in a majority of American products including cereals, beverages, fruit snacks, milk, yogurt, salad dressings, aspirins, toothpaste and much more.  Corn is only a single example of the products being heavily impacted by GMOs surprisingly used in everyday American products.

GMO products should be labeled because American consumers have a right to know what type of foods they are putting into their body.  A 2012 Mellman group poll showed that 90% of North Americans want GMO foods to be labeled.     This poll clearly conveys that Americans are concerned about the effects of GMO products.  Consumers have the right to make an informed decision on whether they want to purchase GMO products.  As many as 60 countries around the world, including Japan, Australia and a majority of the European Union, have enforced firm restrictions on GMO production and/or banning it entirely.  Not only have countries such as Europe banned or restricted GMO products to be farmed but have also set strict zero-tolerance policy of imported GMO crops coming from the United States.  The products imported into Europe cannot contain any trace amounts of GMO products and will not be sold within European borders.

There have been an increasing number of health concern cases of people living or working on close proximity of GMO farms.  People have reported suffering from allergic reactions and unexplainable sicknesses due to breathing in pollen given off by GMO products.  Many well-known companies have poured astonishing amounts of money into hiding their GMO products and information from consumers.  Notable companies such as PepsiCo, Coca-cola and Nestle have put in an estimated 2.4 million dollars, 1.5 million dollars and another 1.5 million dollars, respectively, in a campaign opposed to labeling GMO products.  There is a clear demand for labeling GMO products for various health concerns.

Not only do GMO products pose health risks but it is also a huge detriment to the environment.  Genetically modified foods allegedly yield higher quantities of crops; however, the only thing that has increased is amounts of toxic herbicides and pesticides.  The farming of GMO crops has increased the usage of herbicide by as much as 527 million pounds.  The amount of herbicides added into the environment to maintain GMO crops have made these farms we eat from a toxic playground.  The contaminations of farms from certain herbicides and pesticides used for GMO crops have introduced a new family of weeds called Superweeds.  A superweed is a hybrid plant that consists of genes consists of genes resistant to herbicides.  Superweeds were accidentally produced as a result of crossing genetically engineered crop plants with wild plants.  The situation is only getting worse as farmers are obligated to backtrack to older, higher-risk herbicides in an attempt to try and contain these Superweeds from spreading further.

For 32 years Roundup has been the world’s best killing weed killer.  Today’s farms, containing bountiful amounts of GMO crops, contain over 61.2 acres of American farmlands infested with these Superweeds resistant to Roundup.  Farmers across the nation now face the crisis of coming up with new tactics to the Superweed problem.  The costs related with weed control have put farmers in a real financial setback.  Due to the fact that Roundup does not work on Superweeds, farmers are dishing out double or triple the amount they normally spend for weed control.  Many farmers have been forced to revisit the traditional method of pulling weeds by hand.  The rise of GMO-introduced herbicide-weeds is such an issue it was a dominant topic at the American Chemical Society, known as the world’s largest science and industry society.  Not only do GMOs pose a risk to consumers but the product given off by GMOs creates an agricultural battlefield for farmers.

Attempts are being made through various protests and organizations to label GMO products.  In 2003, a Berkeley based organization was started in efforts to discontinue sales of GMO products from grocery stores.  The organization started at a small neighborhood natural grocery store in response to concerned consumers of certain GMO products.  The employees of the store started a “People Want to Know” campaign and resulted in a rally of 161 grocery stores and co-ops throughout the United States. The natural grocery store eventually teamed up with a Toronto based market called the Big Carrot Natural Food Market to create The Non-GMO Project.  The organization received a great deal of attention as well as a positive reputation for creating a label to identify products as non-GMO.  Their website also allows consumers to check whether or not certain brands or products are certified and registered as non-GMO.

There are numerous reasons to label GMO products largely for the sake of consumer health and environmental concerns.  The majority of American consumers are demanding that GMO products being sold in markets should be labeled.  American citizens have the right to know what type of products they are putting on the family dinner table and their bodies.  Many countries including Europe have already recognized the harmful consequences of consuming GMO crops.  GMO farms are posing serious health concerns for nearby residents and workers.  The negative consequences of GMO products are so great that household brands such as PepsiCo invest millions of dollars in efforts to hide their GMO usage.  The genetically engineered crops have also affected the environment by creating the notorious family of Superweeds.  There is still hope as protests and organizations such as The Non-GMO Project attempt to require labeling on GMO products.  The organization has already enlisted a respectable amount of companies to their non-GMO list.  They have also created a label used by many companies to identify their products as non-GMO.  Genetically modified foods should be labeled so that American consumers can make informed decisions on the products they purchase.

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3 Comments to “What are you really eating?”

  1. So frightening the extent that GMO’s have infiltrated our everyday diet 😦 Thanks for the article.

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