Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Genetically modified foods are increasingly getting into the main stream food processing field, especially in a country like the US where most of the manufactured foods in the retail shelves contain significant levels of ingredients derived from GM food sources. As there is no mandatory labeling to inform the consumer regarding the presence of GM ingredients, most of those buying these foods are blissfully unaware of what they are really eating. Thanks to persistent efforts by consumer activist organizations, there appears to be increasing awareness about the downside of GM foods in spite of claims by the GM lobby that these foods are absolutely safe to consume. Here is a commentary on the present status of GM foods in the US which tells its story.

"Little-known facts about GMOs: GMOs are now present in 75 to 80 percent of conventional processed food in the U.S., according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association. 58 percent of Americans are unfamiliar with the issue of GMOs in food, according to a 2006 Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology study. "Non-GMO" is the fastest-growing health and wellness claim on store-brand food labels, up 67 percent in 2009, according to Nielsen Co. 80 percent of Whole Foods Market shoppers surveyed said they would seek out non-GMO products with clear labeling, and would be willing to pay more for these products. The FDA does not require food with GMOs to be labeled as such, so avoiding them is hard to do. GMOs are banned or significantly restricted in 30 other countries around the world, including Australia, Japan and all of the nations in the European Union. Unfortunately, due to cross-contamination and pollen drift, very few products in the U.S. are completely free of GMOs. The Non-GMO Project standard is a process-based standard that avoids the intentional use of GMO ingredients by providing suppliers with procedures and best practices for minimizing the presence of GMO ingredients".

It is most unfortunate that in a democratic country like the US, the citizens are denied their basic right to know about the food they are eating, thanks to the mighty clout enjoyed by the GM technology companies that produce GM seeds and the food processing industry on the government. One is reminded of the fate of irradiation technology which is still in the limbo because of the labeling controversy. It is well established scientifically that irradiation technology is safe beyond any shadow of doubt and there does not appear to be any logic in insisting on inclusion of the words "Irradiated Foods" on the label. If such a logic is extended on all food packets the type of technology used will have to be declared on the label. In contrast GM technology has yet to reach a stage where there is unanimity regarding the safety of foods derived from GM sources. According to some observers, there exists a connection between the emergence of GM foods in the market and the rampaging health afflictions Americans are experiencing to day. One never knows!


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