MEDIA ROOTS – With a healthy eating mentality on the rise, a lot of companies are attempting to cash in on the idea of providing natural and organic foods, which is great if the foods are truly natural and organic. However, labeling laws along with the FDA itself aren’t exactly on the thoughtful consumers side in all of this. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as picking up a bag of Tostitos and reading the ingredients. Corn, oil, salt. Sounds natural, right? Not necessarily.
Genetically modified organisms. The name explains it all – scientifically created in a lab in an effort to feed more people faster and for a lot less money. GMO’s are definitely not natural. Government regulations on GMO’s define the process as “the altering of the genetic material in that organism in a way that does not occur naturally by mating or natural recombination or both.” Furthermore, companies can use genetically modified foods (most commonly corn and soy) without labeling them as such. Sometimes tricky labeling can even serve to dupe intelligent buyers.
Silk brand soymilk, for example, started out using organic soybeans but over time switched to using non-organic, GMO soy while changing the ‘organic’ labeling to ‘natural’. The company saved money and was able to keep its long-time consumers that most likely overlooked the new wording. Silk was eventually held accountable for its dishonesty and recently returned to using certified organic soybeans in its original soymilk.
New regulations require biotechnology companies to provide health safety data directly to the FDA prior to marketing a GMO product. However, ‘we the consumer’ still must do our own research before grocery shopping because foods containing GMO’s continue to remain unlabeled as such.
For your health, do just that – research.
If the food is processed, non-organic, and contains a crop that has a genetically modified variant (like tomatoes, potatoes, canola, corn and soy, do) then the chances are it is GMO. Reading the food labels and ingredient lists won’t mean much unless you first know what’s what. Learn what crops are genetically modified and what ingredients they are used to make. The non-GMO shopping guide by the NON-GMO Project is a great resource to start with.
The truth about what we eat should be in our control and it can be.
Visit the nonGMO project to find out what you can do to help the labeling process at http://www.nongmoproject.org/
Article by Erin Berton
© COPYRIGHT MEDIA ROOTS, 2011
Photograph by flickr user Tim Psych