Is Your Food Genetically Engineered?
Washington, D.C. Do you know what America’s farmers are planting this spring? Are they choosing genetically engineered (GE) seeds resistant to the herbicide Roundup? Or do they use traditional seeds?
As you walk through the aisles of your grocery store, you often encounter dealers’ labels such as “local produce,” “natural,” or “eco-friendly” which are unregulated. Not so the label “USDA Organic.” It is now the standard description for all foods grown and processed without synthetic growth hormones, irradiation, antibiotics, toxic pesticides, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). There are reports that in order to make food producers avoid those dangers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been conducting unannounced inspections at every level of the production process from the farm to the consumer.
The label “organic” may also be found on pet food, clothing, and personal care supplies. The organic products industry claims that it promotes not only human and animal health but also healthy soil, vegetation and fertility, preserves the water supply and the diversity of species, counteracts destructive climate change, and protects nature from exposure to harmful chemicals.
Environmental activist Gary Hirshberg is one of thousands of Americans who want the U.S. government to make the labeling of all sold foods a legal requirement: “Labels tell us the fat, calories and colors in our food but not its genetic engineering. Labeling is required to tell us if our fish is wild or farmed, but not if it’s genetically engineered.”
A major requirement for proper organic agriculture is the application of naturally occurring or processed organic fertilizers, such as compost, manure, guano, worm castings, peat, seaweed, blood meal, bone meal, fish meal and decomposing crop residue (green manure). The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibited the use of sludge as fertilizer because it often contains toxic metal accumulations.
The American organic movement has grown strong enough to support its own trade organization and its own publication, Media Planet. One of its writers recently complained again in the Washington Post that “America has no laws requiring GE-food labeling, but more than 50 countries do, including all of Europe, Japan, Brazil, Australia, Russia and even China.” Some restrict or even ban the production and sale of genetically engineered foods.
In partial opposition to the growing organic products movement, the Non-GMO Project opposes all genetic engineering. It rejects GMOs as an experimental technology that “forces DNA from one species to another unrelated species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional breeding.”
The promoters of the Non-GMO Project claim that more than 80 percent of all GMOs are engineered for tolerance to toxic herbicides, such as Roundup. Subsequently emerging “super weeds” and “super bugs” can be eliminated only with more and stronger poisons.
After thirty years of researching traditional and organic farming side by side, the Farming Systems Trial of the Rodale Institute (near Kutztown, Pennsylvania) demonstrated that organic farming is better equipped to provide healthy food for a growing population and to preserve healthier regenerating soils.