Last November, California failed to pass “Prop 37,” an amendment to the state constitution that would have required the labeling of all genetically modified ingredients and foods. In spite of the loss in California, the fight against GMOs has gained both momentum and national awareness with several initiatives underway at both the state and national levels.
At the heart of the controversy is the consumers’ right to know what is in their food. GMOs combine genes in crops from unrelated organisms that could not have otherwise have mixed through biological reproduction and/or conventional breeding. To date, several common U.S. crops have already been modified, including ubiquitous grains like wheat, soy and corn. Currently, GMO versions of these crops are finding their way into our food supply and are unknowingly being consumed by the American public.
While farming with GMOs might increase yields over the short term, “Round-Up Ready” crops (as they are dubbed) are genetically altered to tolerate the chemical “glyphosate,” a weed killer. The long-term risks of GMO foods, and glyphosate residue, on human health and the environment have spawned a growing debate as to their safety for public consumption. And in my opinion, not enough research data exists on what the long-term effects from GMOs are.
Aside from banning GMOs, which I would be in favor of until ramifications for human, animal, and environmental health were fully understood, the easiest short-term action that allows for consumer choice is food labeling. Consumers would then know whether or not they were consuming GMOs and the marketplace would decide whether or not they want to be a part of the GMO experiment.
The national Just-Label-It campaign is lobbying Washington D.C. to introduce a law that would require labeling of all GMO foods. Visit www.justlabelit.org to learn about the 8 steps you can take to promote labeling. And while Prop 37 was defeated last November, nearly half of all U.S. states have introduced similar bills that would require GE labeling.
As president of the OTA, we applaud initiatives taken by the marketplace, such as those of Whole Foods’ CEO Walter Robb. Recently, Whole Foods announced that any products sold in its U.S. and Canadian stories that contain genetically modified ingredients must be labeled by 2018.
As a precaution, consuming organic foods is one sure-fire way to avoid GMOs. Not only are organic foods produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, they are also produced without genetically-modified organisms. GMOs and GM seeds are strictly prohibited in the production of organically-grown foods.
In the end, your dollar is your vote and voice, not only for you, but for your family as well. By voting for organic, you are voting for a much cleaner method for producing food that is healthy for you, your family and the planet. And by choosing an all-organic diet, you’ll never have to worry about consuming GMOs again. WF
Matt McLean is the founder and CEO of Uncle Matt’s Organic, a family-owned business located in Clermont, Florida, specializing in fresh organic juices and fresh produce. He also has served on the Organic Trade Association Board for the past 8 years, the last two as President.
Published on WholeFoods Magazine Online, April 21, 2013