Understanding the Issue When It Comes to GMO Labeling
As of late, GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, have been a hot-button issue. The states of Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine have all passed initiatives requiring foods that contain GMOs to be labeled as such, but big biotech and its lobbyists are making every effort to undermine these initiatives. California and Washington’s GMO labeling initiatives were narrowly defeated, due in no small part to the biotech industry’s deep pockets.
Now, a ballot initiative in our home state of Oregon has gathered the signatures necessary to qualify for a statewide vote. If passed, it would require all food that is entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering to be labeled.
So What Are GMOs?
Basically, GMOs are plant or meat products that have had their DNA altered in a laboratory to produce specific results, such as frost resistance, pesticide immunity, or extended shelf life. Some foods have been engineered to produce their own pesticides. This is accomplished by splicing in DNA from other organisms, including viruses, bacteria, or other plants and animals.
With a few of these surface-level examples, one can see that the end-product is not necessarily always a bad thing. Protecting food crops from infestation by insects and saving money while increasing crop yield at the same time all sound like positive results, potentially for both farmers and consumers. What’s at issue, then, is ensuring that as consumers, we are thoroughly informed about what is going into the food that we eat.
The Risks of GMSs Are Unclear
When it comes to GMO foods, we don’t know exactly what the risks are, and that’s a potential problem. GMO foods are not subject to the same scientific scrutiny as new drugs, and no long-term studies on the safety of consuming them have been conducted as of yet.
However, independent research paints a disturbing picture. In 2012, a team of European scientists found a strong link between GMO corn consumption and increased risk of mammary tumors, and kidney and liver damage in rats. A Norwegian study found that GMO genes found in Roundup-Ready corn pass through the intestinal tract and into the blood. The gene was found in 95% of the pregnant women who participated in the study, and in 83% of their unborn fetuses.
And yet the complexity of the issue remains, even after several studies have appeared to find that GMOs may pose serious health risks — it seems that just as many researchers have argued that the studies are designed in a faulty or inconclusive manner, or that results are open to being contested. With both sides of the argument arguing passionately, and plenty of money flowing in to support the cases, the water has become quite murky, to say the least.
GMOs: A Dangerous Game?
The biotech industry claims that GMOs are perfectly safe, but if that’s the case, why do they spend so much money attempting to block any measures that would require increased transparency?
For starters, they’re well aware that if GMOs were labeled, it would hurt their profits. A strong majority of U.S. consumers support GMO labeling, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they don’t want them labeled so they can buy more of them.
The other issue that big biotech and the chemical industries are trying to dodge is liability. As long as GMOs are unlabeled, and therefore untraceable, these industries can claim that there is no evidence of harm. No evidence means no liability for the public health costs that these companies are potentially passing on to the rest of society.
Join Us in Supporting GMO Labeling
Regardless of your personal position on the health risks of GMOs, we as consumers have a right to know what we’re eating. Bottom line — it’s crucial that as voters and consumers, you educate yourself properly about the issue, and what’s at stake. Informed and intelligent consumption ultimately benefits us all, as well as the planet, and knowing what’s in our food at all times is a giant piece of that puzzle.
Learn more now at: Oregon Right to Know.