Monday, November 18, 2013

Why GMO labeling is good for consumers

Why GMO labeling is good for consumers
There have been no clinical studies to determine if GMOs are even safe for human consumption. GMO labeling let's consumers decide if they want to take that risk.

Do you find yourself reading food labels more often, curious to see what is, or isn’t, in some of the packaged food in your cupboard? There’s a general trend towards label reading because people want to know what’s in their food, and why wouldn’t we?

This food trend is at the heart of a battle being waged south of the border about GMO labeling of foods, the results of which have the potential to impact our grocery stores too. Although GMO labelling is non-existent in Canada, momentum in the U.S. could influence legislation here.

In the meantime Health Canada considers GMO foods safe for human consumption.

Never mind that 64 other countries around the world restrict or ban GMOs. It begs the question: What do they know that we don’t?

This is what’s at stake for the anti-labelling side…

If there were two boxes of cereal on a grocery store shelf and one stated on the label “Contains GMOs” chances are you, and millions of others, would go home with the GMO-free box. The big cereal companies (along with soft drink manufacturers, canned food companies and agribusinesses) know that the public in general mistrusts GMOs, so would rather not draw attention to the fact that their products are full of them.

This is what’s at stake for consumers…

  • There have been no clinical studies to determine if GMOs are even safe for human consumption. (Genetically engineered foods can’t be compared to the cross-breeding that farmers have been doing for thousands of years. Genetically engineered foods have been manipulated at the cellular level, often with genes from completely different species.) 
  • Animal studies in Europe and by the American Academy of Environmental Studies have shown a frightening list of biological changes in rats fed GMOs, when compared to control groups. (Immune system disruption, inflammation, insulin disruption and liver and kidney changes).
  • Is it a coincidence that in the 20 years GMO foods have been on the market obesity rates have skyrocketed as have many other diseases? Who knows?
  • The original promises of GMOs, namely higher crop yield, greater drought tolerance and reduced reliance on pesticides, have not panned out. GMOs have contributed no meaningful growth in crop yield and are more dependent on pesticides.

That’s a lot of risk with no reward.

Considering GMO foods are likely very unhealthy, are harmful to the environment and threaten the diversity of our food system, I would, at the very least, like them to be clearly labelled so I can make an informed choice.

How do you avoid GMOs?

  • Corn, soy, cotton and canola are the most common GMOs.
  • Corn and soybeans are used heavily in processed foods so reducing your consumption of these foods is a good place to start.
  • Certified organic foods are, by definition, GMO-free and some foods are labeled GMO-free (Look for the “Non GMO Project Verified” seal.)
  • Locally, Kredl’s in Hampton has announced that they plan to label any GMO products in their market.

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