We need to know what’s going on in our food

Ally Browne

Food labels already tell us if a product contains high fructose corn syrup, trans fat or is irradiated. Why can’t we also know if it’s genetically engineered?

Proposition 37 gives us the right to know what is in the food we eat, and what we feed to our families. Right now, you could be eating food that was created by forcing a piece of DNA from a totally different species into the DNA of a plant or animal, and not even know it. For example, some genetically engineered soybeans have DNA from bacteria and viruses spliced into their DNA, to help them tolerate weed killers such as Roundup. In fact, many GMOs are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as pesticides.

Nearly 80 percent of processed foods, including baby formula and fast foods, include some kind of genetically engineered ingredient, according to truefoodnow.org.

The answer to whether or not GMOs are safe for human consumption is still unclear. The Food and Drug Administration did not do its own safety testing before the GMOs were put into our food supply. One of the few “studies” that was done by Monsanto, the company that created the seeds tested, compared genetically modified corn to regular corn and found that they were similar. Therefore, Monsanto believed their GMO corn must be safe for human consumption.

However, there are studies on animals that have produced negative findings, including organ damage, tumors, infertility and immune system changes. Toxins from GMOs and soy have been found in the blood of 93 percent of pregnant women, and in 80 percent of their umbilical cords, according to actionbioscience.org.

Despite these risks, some people have absolutely no problem with consuming GMOs. But what about the people who do have a problem eating them? With no label, they have no way of knowing whether what they are eating is or isn’t what they think it is.

For example, a vegetarian could be eating ice cream that was created using yeast spliced with fish genes, or an observant Jew might be eating salmon spliced with eel genes, making it no longer Kosher.

Everyone has the right to be informed through labeling, and thereby avoid foods that violate their personal standards of ethical and religious observance.

The passing of this bill would not cost consumers or food producers anything. More than 50 countries, including China, Mexico, Russia, and the entire European Union, already label for GMOs, and they have not seen a rise in grocery bills or cost of production. Food already contains an information label, and putting one more fact on it won’t change that.

This proposition will not force people to change their eating habits in any way. It will simply inform people what is in the food they eat, and allow them to decide for themselves.

Ally Browne is a City Times staff writer