What is in this article?:
Food policy expert Robyn O'Brien examines how labels are both boon and bane to food transparency.
In harm's way?
Because without labels on genetically engineered ingredients, the industry can claim “no evidence of harm.” Without labels, there is no evidence of traceability, accountability and liability. No way for a mother to directly link her child’s allergic reaction to the genetically engineered soy that has been hardwired to withstand increasing doses of a weedkiller she has been told not to store under her kitchen sink. A soy introduced into our food supply in the late 1990s without a label.
If you haven’t heard of these ingredients, you’re not alone, but a growing number of Americans are learning about them, and there is now legislation introduced in more than half of the states around the country to get them labeled here, too.
A Wall Street Journal poll asked: Do you think genetically engineered foods should be labeled? 87% said yes.
These are not wide-eyed, fringe, radicals, but rather, most likely a business-minded segment of the population, suggesting that knowing what is in our food just might be a sound way to conserve the health of our country and help manage the bottom lines of companies whose profits are being hit by the burdens of disease .
Sure, the chemical and pesticide industries producing these foods don’t want to hear this. Some of these genetically engineered products are now regulated by the EPA as pesticides. That’s a hard sell to a consumer. Can you imagine that marketing campaign? ”Made with pesticides.”
But as more of us are waking up to the fact that the United States remains one of the only developed countries in the world to have failed to label these ingredients in our food supply, the question now seems to be: Is now the time to label genetically engineered foods, foods whose genetic makeup has been hardwired to withstand increasing doses of toxic chemicals or to produce insecticides within the plant itself.
The chemical companies that are both making the foods and selling the chemicals required to grow them often claim that their products are needed to feed the world.
It’s an emotional argument. Powerful, too. But in light of the fact that 2 billion people are overweight or obese and 1 billion are hungry, while 30% of what is grown is thrown away, is a food shortage really the problem?
“The world is hungry because of politics and economics, not because we can’t grow food” a farmer from Australia recently said. And if you go wide, beyond the consumers and farmers, and dig into the politics of food, you realize how complicated and politically, economically and financially loaded the issue has become.
According to the USDA, 40 percent of the food we produce is never eaten.