Should Genetically Modified Foods Be Labeled?

    A linen tote bag filled with fresh fruits and vegetablesLabeling bills for genetically modified (GMO/GM) foods have been proposed in more than a dozen states over the last year, and an appeal to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last fall to mandate labels nationally drew more than a million signatures.

    The most closely watched labeling effort is a proposed ballot initiative in California that is setting the stage for a probable November vote that could influence not just food packaging but the future of American agriculture.

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    What Exactly Are GMO Foods?

    GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. The most frequent use of the term GMO is in relation to the food that we eat, in that many crops and factory-made foods are created from genetically modified ingredients. Genes from other plants, viruses, bacteria, animals, etc. are inserted into the genes of certain products such as corn to make them more stable and resistant to drought, disease and pesticides.

    However, because of this cross-breeding, the safety of such foods has not been able to have been proven and other countries (and some counties in the U.S.) have banned the modified foods from being imported and/or grown.

    Though the goal of GMO crops is to make them less susceptible to pests, more resistant to drought and stronger overall, the actual result is that stronger pesticides will be needed for the stronger weeds and disease, just as overuse of antibiotics has created stronger strains of disease in humans.

    Even scientists from the FDA said that “The possibility of unexpected, accidental changes in genetically engineered plants” might produce “unexpected high concentrations of plant toxicants.”[1] GM crops, they said, might have R 20;Increased levels of known naturally occurring toxins, . . . appearance of new, not previously identified” toxins, and an increased tendency to gather “toxic substances from the environment” such as “pesticides or heavy metals.”

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