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.
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.
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.