As you may remember from last week, my youngest sister, Maggie, is guest blogging in a four-part series, providing us all with information around the controversial subject of genetically modified organisms. Throughout Part One of her series, Maggie provided insight into the history of this type of food engineering, as well as explanations about what genetically modified organisms actually are (and are not). This week, Maggie’s post details how the production of GMOs in the United States differs from the production of GMOs in other countries, as well as how GMOs are regulated in terms of labeling. After you read this guest blog post, please use the comments section to share your opinions about whether the FDA should mandate the labeling of products containing GMOs, given the general public’s consensus (which Maggie will explain below)!
Guest Blogger Series “GMOs Revealed” – Part Two
The United States is one of 70 countries that either produce or import GMOs. As of 2014 the five countries producing GMOs were the United States with 73.1 million hectares, Brazil with 42.2 hectares, Argentina with 24.3 hectares, Canada with 11.6 hectares, and India with 11.6 hectares as well (Worldwide). Genetically modified crops in the U.S. include corn, soybean, potato, cotton, canola, tomato, and squash (Johnson). In fact, 90% of the corn, soybean, and cotton crops grown in the U.S. are genetically modified (Johnson). You may find GMOs in store bought items like salad dressing, pasta, peanut butter, frozen yogurt, tomato sauce, and even infant formula (GMO Education). But, GMOs can also be found in non – food items such as cosmetics, shampoo, soaps, and detergents (GMO Education). Also, many animals are fed genetically modified feed (GMO Education).
Scientists have tried many different genetically modified combinations (GMO Education). These combinations include Arctic fish genes inserted into tomatoes and strawberries so they would resist frost, jellyfish genes inserted into pigs to make their noses glow in the dark, and spider genes inserted into goat DNA for goat milk that contained a certain spider protein to make bulletproof vests (GMO Education). Other experiments in the genetically modified field have resulted in apples that resist browning and potatoes that glow in the dark when they need watering (GMO Education). In addition, rice has been inserted with human genes, corn with jellyfish genes, sugarcane with human genes, and corn with human genes (GMO Education).
Currently, the United States does not require GMO labeling (What Are We Eating). This means that if a food contains a GMO, the U.S. does not require that information to be presented to the consumer on the nutrition or food label (What Are We Eating). Therefore, millions of infants, children, and adults consume genetically modified organisms without even knowing it, thus turning into human lab rats (GE Food). In 64 other countries around the world, which makes up 40% of the population, there are requirements for GMO labels, severe restrictions to the production of GMOs, and even bans on GMOs (What Are We Eating). The entire European Union and China require GMOs to be labeled (What Are We Eating). So why not in the U.S.? The FDA has said that “there is no need to label GMOs,” and will not label GMO foods (What Are We Eating), although, 92% of the United States population say that they are not only in favor, but strongly support the labeling of GMOs (U.S. Polls). Because GMO foods are not labeled, the consumer is not able to make an educated decision about whether or not they want to eat a genetically modified product. The United States currently lets companies use GMOs in secret, masking them on ingredient lists (What Are We Eating). Items that a consumer may see on an ingredient list that may be made from a genetically modified organism include: aspartame, fructose, glucose, diglyceride, and whey (Non-GMO).
GE Food and Your Health. n.d. Center for Food Safety, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.
GMO Education. n.d. Institute For Responsible Technology, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.
Johnson, David. Genetically Modified Food People Already Eat in the U.S. n.d. Time, 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.
Non-GMO Shopping Guide. n.d. Institute For Responsible Technology, 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.
U.S. Polls on GE Food Labeling. n.d. Center For Food Safety, n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2016.
What Are We Eating. n.d. Label GMOs. n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
Worldwide Commercial Growing. n.d. Gene Watch, n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.