Genetically Engineered Food and Genetically Modified Organisms — What’s in YOUR food?
GE food and “GMOs” are interchangeable terms for the genetic engineering of plants and animals. By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous novel creations, such as potatoes with bacteria genes, “super” pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. At an alarming rate, these creations are now being patented and released into the environment — and our food supply.
A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that GE foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression, cancer and birth defects.
As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.
Most Americans say they would not eat GMOs if labeled, but unlike most other industrialized countries, the U.S. does not require labeling.
The best ways to avoid GMOs are:
The Co-op's Statement on GMOs
Without federally required labeling of products containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), SNFC cannot guarantee all the products it carries are GMO-free. Because 85–90% of all soybeans, corn, cotton, sugar beets and canola grown in this country contain Monsanto’s patented genetically altered genes, products that include these ingredients and were grown using conventional agricultural practices may contain GMOs. For this reason, the CO-OP is committed to providing, whenever possible, at least one product in each food category that is certified by a third party to be organically grown.
Current USDA regulations prohibit the use of GMOs in organic production, so buying USDA Certified organic products is a good way to avoid GMOs and to drive them out of the food system. If the label says “made with organic ingredients,” only 70% of the ingredients must be organic, but even those non-organic ingredients cannot be produced from GMOs. Certain crops, like corn, however, are wind-pollinated, so there is a chance for genetic drift from a GMO corn field to contaminate an organic corn field. In other words, being certain that a product is 100% GMO-free will be difficult while the use of GMOs themselves is widespread and they are not required to be labeled.
Many of the manufacturers whose products are available at the Co-op are going through Non-GMO Project verification for some or all of their products. Choosing products that are Non-GMO verified is another way to avoid GMOs. Look for labeling on our shelves, on product packaging, or visit nongmoproject.org for a list of verified vendors and products.
We recognize that consumers expect natural and organic products to be free of GMOs and are endeavoring to meet that expectation to the best of our ability. Therefore as of August 15, 2013, we are no longer accepting new non-organic products that include GMO high-risk items (listed below) in their ingredient list unless the products have been certified to be GMO-free by the Non-GMO Project or vendors can provide us a detailed description of measures taken to avoid GMO contamination. Animal products (e.g. meat, dairy, eggs), beer, wine and body care products are excluded from this policy at this time.
The following crops carry the risk of being genetically engineered, because engineered varieties are grown on a large scale in North America and certain other parts of the world:
The Co-op seeks to expand customer awareness of GMOs. This includes providing information about the possible health and environmental risks, pending legislation and opportunities for action. Some ways concerned consumers can get involved include: writing to members of Congress to encourage support of legislation to require mandatory labeling; supporting the Center for Food Safety, and choosing products that are certified organic or Non-GMO verified. We have supported and will continue to support groups that are working towards mandatory labeling of all products containing GMOs.
More information on Monsanto, and the impact
they pose to the environment.
The future of Food, a documentary by Deborah Koons Garcia
Genetic Roulette–The Gamble of Our Lives, a film by Jeffrey M. Smith