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Are You Eating Genetically Modified Food?

Updated on March 31, 2015
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The Facts

Unfortunately, America has no law governing the production and/or labeling of genetically modified food (Library of Congress, 2015). Furthermore, in May, 2013, the U.S. Senate voted down an amendment to a farm bill that would have allowed states to require labels on food containing GMOs (Cummings, 2013).. Therefore, the only way a US consumer can guarantee that the food they are eating is not genetically modified is by active research, and often even that won’t help.

It is noted, however, that responsible businesses who do not use GMOs almost always post that information on their website. For example, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream promises no GMOs or bovine growth hormones in their products, but Blue Bell creameries, the most popular brand of ice cream locally, doesn’t mention anything on their website about GMOs or bovine growth hormones. Considering that in 2005, the US accounted for 63% of GM crops planted globally (University of California, Santa Cruz, 2005), it may be safe to assume that if a food manufacturing company does not make the effort to utilize GM free ingredients, than something in the food will be genetically modified.

Honest businesses will not lie if a food has been genetically modified, though. For example, a good portion of the milk sold in this town is the Wal-Mart Great Value brand, because it is almost a dollar cheaper per gallon than competing stores. It was easy to find on Wal-Mart’s website that the milk is produced without the use of bovine growth hormones. However, on another question and answer page WalMart representatives admit that consumers would have to contact Wal-Mart with the date and lot code to find out if the milk is GMO free.

Other popular foods are grown both regionally and locally, and some seem to be almost automatically genetically modified. For example, the Georgia Peanut Commission funded twenty-eight in-state research programs, most involving genetic modification (Georgia Peanut Commission, 2014). It’s probably safe to assume that a good portion of our fresh peanuts are genetically engineered. Claxton chicken is another local grocery store staple, but, according to the National Chicken Council (2013), chicken raised for meat is not genetically modified.

Does knowing whether our food is genetically modified really matter? Are the risks all that serious? Genetically modifying food will help feed a growing world population. Whether the knowledge of whether or not we are eating GM foods is a very personal question that each of us must answer for ourselves.

So, for now at least, if US consumers want to know if the food they are eating is genetically modified, they need to be prepared to do some research.

References

Cummings, B. (2013, June 17). Few states have genetically modified food laws. Connecticut Post. Retrieved from http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Few-states-have-genetically-modified-food-laws-4606162.php

Georgia Peanut Commission (2014). 2014 GPC research reports. Retrieved from http://www.gapeanuts.com/

Library of Congress (2015, Feb. 27). Restrictions on Genetically Modified Organisms: United States. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/law/help/restrictions-on-gmos/usa.php

National Chicken Council (2013, June 5). Genetically modified organism (GMO) use in the chicken industry. Retrieved from http://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/genetically-modified-organism-gmo-use-in-the-chicken-industry/

University of California, Santa Cruz (2005). Genetically modified foods. Retrieved from https://classes.soe.ucsc.edu/cmpe080e/Spring05/projects/gmo/laws.htm

Wal-Mart (2013). Is this milk GMO free? Retrieved from http://answers.walmart.com/answers/1336/product/10450114/questions.htm

Wal-Mart (2008, March 21). Wal-Mart offers private label milk produced without artificial growth hormone. Retrieved from http://news.walmart.com/news-archive/2008/03/24/wal-mart-offers-private-label-milk-produced-without-artificial-growth-hormone

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