More Than 60%
Grocery Store Foods
Now Contain GMO Ingredients

By Bill Krumbein

More than 60 percent of the food products on grocery shelves contain genetically engineered ingredients.
Without our knowledge the American public is serving as guinea pigs in a giant biotech experiment. This is wrong. Consumers have a right to know what foods contain genetically modified ingredients.
Today, the only way one can ensure that a product is free from genetically engineered ingredients is to buy organic products.
I'm not here to bash biotechnology sciences. I acknowledge the industry's accomplishments and contributions and the potential to create meaningful products is immense, but in today's climate there seem to be too many unanswered questions prompting plenty of room for concern.
First, if genetically engineered food products are so safe, why aren't biotech companies held financially liable for damage to the environment or to public health?
Second, if genetically engineered seeds are so safe, why does Monsanto insist that farmers who plant their patented seeds must sign liability waivers?
And, third, why won't the biotech industry share their safety studies with the general public?
According to Kent Wheatly, with Seed Savers Exchange, "There has been almost no peer-reviewed scientific research published which shows that GE crops are safe for the environment." In fact, evidence suggests the opposite:
Pollen from corn plants genetically modified with Bacillus thuringiensis to combat corn borer kills butterflies and moths, and when the corn stubble is plowed under, large quantities of the Bt toxin are actually added to the soil, harming beneficial microbes.
Japan, Canada and the European Union have banned recombinant bovine growth hormone in milk. Why does the U.S. still allow this product to make its way into our milk supply? Check your milk carton to see if it specifically states that the product does not contain this.
Fetzer Vineyards in Mendocino County has become one of the first major California wineries to come out against genetically engineered grape vines. They fear that these vines have a potential negative impact on natural yeasts.
Other countries' governments are acting on this issue. The 15 European Union countries require food products containing more than 1 percent genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled. Countries that have or will soon have similar label requirements include Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan.
Americans want what the Europeans have. In June 2000 a Harris Poll showed that 86 percent of Americans think the government should require genetically engineered food products to be labeled. Three other nationwide polls showed similar results. Isn't our democracy supposed to represent the will of the people?
We do not have food product label laws because of the biotech industry's strong lobbying efforts, campaign financing and placement of pro-biotech industry people in high government positions. Where have we heard this before? Does the word Enron ring a bell?
In 1997 the USDA tried to pass national organic standards that allowed for genetically engineered foods and foods grown using sewer sludge. Organic farmers, backyard gardeners, and other concerned citizens would not stand for this. Nearly 300,000 letters of protest were sent to the USDA. The USDA rewrote their proposal.
A similar campaign is needed in regards to genetically modified food.
Consumers need to insist that our legislators pass laws requiring all food products containing genetically engineered ingredients be labeled.
We must write to Kraft Foods North America, 3 Lakes Drive, Northfield, IL 60093. Kraft, the largest packaged-food company in the United States, produces 7,000 food products including Post Raisin Brand cereal, Oreo cookies, Wheat Thins crackers and Capri Sun juice drinks. Tell Kraft to either remove all genetically engineered ingredients from their products or to label their products.
If successful, we would finally have a true choice in our ability to choose foods that have not been genetically engineered.
It seems so easy. We, the people, want this to happen and since this is an election year, perhaps more legislators (or those running for office) will listen.
Bill Krumbein is a retired state park ranger and a Santa Rosa resident.

Email This Article


This Site Served by TheHostPros