Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published July 30, 2012, 09:18 AM

Labeling genetically modified foods

Recent national surveys by the Mellman Group and MSNBC, as well as polls conducted in the past two decades, indicate that 90 percent of U.S. consumers want to know whether the foods they eat have been genetically engineered.

By: Ronnie Cummins, Agweek

FINLAND, Minn. — Recent national surveys by the Mellman Group and MSNBC, as well as polls conducted in the past two decades, indicate that 90 percent of U.S. consumers want to know whether the foods they eat have been genetically engineered.

Concern about the health and environmental effects of genetic engineering continue to grow. Yet the biotech industry, large food manufacturers and retailers have so far blocked efforts to require food containing genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled.

The European Union and 22 other nations have GMO labeling laws. More than a million Americans recently sent a petition to the Food and Drug Administration demanding mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMO).

On May 2, a petition was filed by a million registered voters in California that will put mandatory GMO food labeling on the ballot Nov. 6. The law also will ban the routine industry practice of labeling or marketing GMO-tainted foods as “natural.”

Why do the majority of Americans want labeling on foods gene-spliced with bacteria, viruses, antibiotic-resistant marker genes and foreign DNA?

Because millions of us don’t think they’re safe.

In 1989, 39 people died and thousands were disabled from a disease called eosonophil myalgia syndrome, which was traced to a genetically engineered supplement found in health food stores.

In 1996, the government banned dangerously allergenic soybeans that had been gene-spliced with Brazil nut DNA.

More than 100 peer-reviewed studies have shown that GMOs damage the vital organs, immune systems and reproductive functions of animals.

Most countries in the world, including the EU, banned genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (BGH), injected into dairy cows to force them to produce more milk, after it was discovered that a potent cancer tumor promoter in BGH milk caused a higher risk of cancer in humans.

Americans want labels on foods with GMOs so we can avoid buying them. Polls indicate that 40 percent of U.S. consumers believe that GMO foods are dangerous. Another 40 percent are unsure.

After more than a decade of biotech industry propaganda, we now find out, that GMO seeds and crops do not increase yields; use more pesticides than conventional crops; do not result in crops that are more climate friendly, do not produce more nutritious foods and, in fact, have no benefits at all.

Americans want labels on genetically engineered foods, and we want them now.

Editor’s Note: Ronnie Cummins is the national director of the Organic Consumers Association.

Tags: