There are two kinds of people: those who want to know everything that is possible to know about the food they eat (the ingredients, nutrient levels, place of origin, first and last name of the farmer that grew it), and those who, as long as the food is safe, just eat it.
Which are you? Because whichever camp you fall into, likely dictates whether you care if GMO foods be labeled “GMO foods”. Whole Foods has just announced that by 2018 all their stores will label any foods that contain GMO ingredients and many other stores are likely to follow suite. This has the makers of GMO foods in a tizzy.
I think we are going to be shocked when we see that the majority of our processed foods are GMO. (Many processed foods contain corn and/or soy and the vast majority of those crops are GMO). Although very little of our fresh fruit and vegetables are GMO currently, this could change and one popular fruit that is most likely GMO is papaya. (About half of Hawaiian grown papaya is GMO.)
There are many things that can be done to an organism for it to gain the distinction of being “genetically modified” but one of the most common is when the DNA of a plant is tinkered with such that a pesticide is baked into the genetic material. There has also been discussion of creating fish with pumped up growth hormones so they mature in half the time, and cows that produce milk with a lower fat content. Do any of these “alterations” make the organism unsafe for humans to eat? Most scientists say no, but then again the scientists were saying that DDT (the infamous pesticides used in the 70’s) was safe until they were saying that in fact it was not safe at all. Ditto for BPA (the chemical found in plastics), asbestos, and on and on…
So do I want to know if my food is GMO? Yes. Even now, knowing that most corn and soy is GMO, I always buy organic kernel corn, organic edamame and organic tofu. (Organic food, by the way, is not allowed to contain any GMO plants). If you buy conventional corn or soy products, you can pretty much count on it being GMO.
But I fear that once this labeling begins, the price of non GMO food will go through the green house roof and the demand for organic will be even greater (and hence even costlier). I think people will be scared off (rightly or wrongly) by the GMO label and this will then require the sellers to assure is that it IS safe. We will start seeing ad campaigns telling us that we have nothing to worry about, that the food conglomerates have our best interests in mind and would NEVER sell us anything unsafe. So we should just go back to our soy chips and leave the laboratory experimenting to them….
(Oh and in case you’re not a loyal Portlandia watcher (a very funny TV series) and you might have missed an episode or two … Here is a video clip about the “people-who-care”’s approach to ordering chicken at a restaurant.)
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