Food for Thought!
By Neveen Acero
Genetically altered salmon? As if farm-raised salmon wasn’t enough of an assault on the public’s sense of ethics and sustainability, now the Food & Drug Administration is actually considering green lighting a genetically modified salmon that will grow to full size in half the time it takes wild salmon to grow. This would be the first genetically engineered animal ever in our food supply. But it’s not the first genetically engineered food in our supply.
By now, we are all familiar with the term “genetically modified organism” or GMO – also known as “genetically engineered” (GE) – but just to reiterate, a GMO is an organism that has been altered in the laboratory by placing genes from the DNA of one species (potentially a bacteria, a virus, insect, animal or human) into the genes of another unrelated plant or animal to produce a desired trait such as drought resistance or pest resistance or repellence.
Genetically modified organisms (GMO) have been in our food supply since the early 1990s. Most people don’t know which foods are genetically engineered or how pervasive are its uses since food manufacturers are not required to label these foods. As it turns out, 80% of processed foods found on grocery store shelves contain genetically engineered foods because the corn, soybeans, canola and cottonseed used in processed foods as additives like corn syrup, soy lecithin, and canola and cottonseed oils all come from genetically engineered crops.
And, by the way, the very same crops (soy and corn, mainly) are the ones that feed our livestock, thus delivering GMOs to humans who consume non-organic meats as well.
But thanks to agricultural biotech companies like Monsanto, Dow and DuPont (the patent holders of many of these GMO seeds and the entities that suppress scientific inquiry) there is very little research on the safety of GMOs in humans. And unlike in the EU, Japan, Australia, Russia and even China – where GMOs are banned or severely restricted – the FDA allows them to remain on the US market. And while we as Americans are and should be proud of our judicial system that considers a person innocent until proven guilty, as consumers we should be appalled that in the court of the FDA’s opinion, GMOs are harmless until proven harmful. It’s shameful!
Which brings me to the reason for this blog. There is a legal petition being filed with the FDA to label all GMO foods. It’s called Just Label It because, right now, unless a processed food is labeled organic, you can assume the food contains GMOs; and according to their website, 93% of Americans want to know what’s in their food. So please sign the petition here: http://justlabelit.org/
And while you’re thinking about food safety, spend some time learning about food justice by participating in the Lokey Net Impact Food Week events. Speakers from local food justice organizations (Slow Food, Revolution Foods, People’s Grocery and Oakland Food Connection) will be discussing business, sustainability and access to food on Thursday, 3/29 from 6:30-8pm in the Gathering Hall. And cap off the week with Cocktails on the Green on Friday, 3/30 from 5:30-9pm at Reinhardt Alumni House.