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GMO labeling—just another form of greenwashing?

Within the past few years, GMO labeling has become a huge marketing trend. Big name brands such as Ben and Jerry’s and General Mills have hopped on this trend (hopefully to raise awareness of the issue but possibly just to gain revenue in this market). The ability to know if your food and other products are genetically modified sounds surprisingly simple and relatively reliable. But here’s the kicker: there are no rules or regulations set by the FDA that actually require these claims to be true. Basically, companies can stick all kinds of different labels on their products with no actual evidence to back up these claims thus giving a false sense of security to the consumer.

If you think about it, there really aren’t too many foods we eat today that look exactly the way they did before we began domesticating food to better suit our agricultural needs. Below are some examples of what some familiar foods used to look like before we modified them.

Source: Business Insider

Pretty crazy right? I am not at all saying that domestication of crops is a bad thing or that we should completely abandon modern agricultural practices, I just want to bring attention to the fact that many of the foods we see as “natural” today have actually been genetically modified extensively to bring them to this point. If you are feeling distraught after reading this information, there is still some hope. We do have access to other options which may give you some sense of control over your consumption habits, such as USDA certified organic products.

So what’s the difference between “Organic” and “non-GMO” anyway? According to Food Babe, The only similarity between the two is that they claim to contain no genetically modified ingredients. Aside from that, certified organic foods and other products have to follow very strict regulations set by the USDA such as the following: the products are not exposed to any synthetic pesticides or sewage sludge, contain no ingredients that may have trace amounts of the neurotoxin Hexane, and are not grown using antibiotics or ractopamine—a growth-promoting drug used in the meat industry. It may not sound like much, but in today’s Big Ag-dominated world it is progress.

Non-GMO Project sponsored ad

If you would like to be more conscious of the foods you are eating, I suggest buying local produce from markets (my personal favorite being the Veggie Bin) that provide you with information on the products you are buying or straight from the farmers themselves via CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture). Not only is this a great way to ensure the food you are eating is safe and sustainable, it also supports the local economy and allows us to stand up to Big-Ag and show them that they are not the only producers we rely on.

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “GMO labeling—just another form of greenwashing?

  1. brookshireha

    I loved this post! Can’t say it enough. I felt so informed after reading it, and I really appreciate that. I also enjoyed the images you included because it really brought home all the points you are making. I most appreciated that you did not want to scare anybody from consuming these products, but just wanted to inform them. I felt like telling us about GMO, and the difference form that and organic, was all necessary material to simply educate your audience. That is definitely something we lack in society today, as some people can be too pushy. Great post!!

    Thanks,
    Hannah

  2. robertsonlm

    I thought this post was very interesting! When I or anyone reads a label at the grocery store saying “non gmo” we are going to automatically believe what it says, so it is kind of scary how what the FDA “claims” to be true, might not actually be true. I thought the pictures you included of the food before and after we domesticated them was also really interesting, I had no idea some of these foods looked so different before. I agree with what you said at the end that we need to start buying our foods locally! Doing that we can actually trust our producers and most likely have better health! Overall, I really enjoyed your post, it was super informative and intriguing!

  3. caldwellcm

    That is so upsetting that Non-GMO essentially means nothing, I did not know that there are no regulations that have to be followed to use this ‘certification.’ I tend to buy organic, but this gives me the extra push to do so and educates me as a consumer. I think that supporting local is such an important change to encourage – you should be sure to check out Lowcountry Street Grocery. They are a mobile farmer’s market started by CofC alum in a renovated school bus; their mission is to bring fresh produce to all areas of Charleston!
    Here’s a link for more information and their routes – http://www.lowcountrystreetgrocery.com

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