While baking cookies recently, I happened to see a little something on a can that made me smile. I was getting ready to add a little Rumford Baking Powder to the dough mixture…
…and right there on the back of the can I saw the following ingredient listed: Cornstarch (From Nongenetically Modified Corn).
Hurray! I practically broke into dance right there in my apron.The ‘nongenetically modified’ distinction is something we don’t see nearly often enough in ingredients lists here in the United States. GM seeds have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides. Genetically modified ingredients are commonly added to non-organic prepared foods, despite safety concerns. (Need the facts? The Institute for Responsible Technology provides statistical information about the health dangers of eating GMO foods.)
According to a recent report by CBS News, “If it comes in a can or a box and the label lists soybean oil or corn syrup as ingredients, odds are that it contains GMOs. Overall, 65 percent of all products in your local grocery store have DNA-altered ingredients…not that you’d know it by looking.”
In 30 other countries including all the countries in the European Union, Japan and Australia, GMO ingredients must be clearly labeled so that consumers can make informed purchasing decisions. GMO crops aren’t grown in Japan at all, and imports of GMO ingredients there have been met with widespread demonstrations.
So why can’t we enjoy the same ability to make healthy choices that our overseas friends have? Is it because we don’t know or don’t care? Hardly – in a 2008 CBS News/New York Times poll asking American consumers if they would like to see products with genetically modified ingredients labeled, a resounding 87% said yes. As the largest country in the world with a whole lot more people to make a fuss about this issue, why are we still settling for non-labeled GMO ingredients lurking in our food?
Well, here in America the USDA assures us that GMO foods are perfectly safe. I’m no expert, but some believe that Tom Vilsack, head of the USDA, could be biased about this issue since he’s a former Monsanto executive. Monsanto is the world’s largest producer of genetically modified seeds. To read more on this issue, simply Google “Monsanto, USDA, GMO” and you’ll read page after page of USDA policy favoring Monsanto GMO products despite heavy opposition.
Fortunately, public pressure is mounting and more companies are beginning to offer GMO-labeled goods. The Non-GMO Project is an excellent resource for more information, and you can find hundreds of GMO-labeled products in the Non-GMO Shopping Guide. If you grow your own vegetables, the Garden of Eatin’ has posted this handy list of GMO and non-GMO seed companies.
Are you concerned about genetically modified foods? Would you like to see these ingredients labeled? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this issue.