You’ve probably seen the ‘NON-GMO Project Verified’ logo a few dozen times during your last trip to the grocery store. This label is supposed to tell consumers that the item at hand is not a GMO or that it doesn’t have any ingredients that might be derived from GMO crops. Well, news flash, the ‘NON-GMO Verified Project’ label is extremely misleading. Here’s why.
GMO, or ‘Genetically Modified Organisms’ is a tad misleading for this label. Essentially everything we now eat has been genetically modified in some way thanks to nature or farmers from back in the day. Take carrots, for example, carrots started out yellow, purple, and white. It wasn’t until a new variety of carrots were developed that they actually resembled the orange carrots we know and love today. This new variety of carrots was developed in the 1600s and done so by selective breeding, which is breeding select varieties of foods together until the new strain displays the desired characteristics. This genetic modification process is 100% natural and was the building blocks for today’s genetic engineering practices. This same process has happened with numerous foods, like potatoes and even apples. How else do you think we now have over 7,500 varieties of apples?
GMOs are not the issue at hand. The issue consumers have are with plants that have had their genetic makeup altered through genetic engineering. A better term to use for these crops would be ‘Genetically Engineered Organisms’, this term encompasses any and all crops that have been developed using modern-day genetic engineering practices. The current list of Genetically Engineered crops isn’t nearly as long as you would think.
The current list of GE crops available in the U.S. includes apples, potatoes, field corn, sweet corn, canola, alfalfa, soybean, rainbow papaya, cotton, sugar beets and summer squash. Here are some example products you may find from those items and why they have been genetically engineered:
Apples – non-browning variety. NOT all apples.
Potatoes – blight resistant, reduced bruising
Field Corn – used for livestock feed, corn syrup, corn oil, alcohol, etc – insect resistance, herbicide and drought tolerance
Sweet Corn – food – insect resistance and herbicide tolerance
Canola – Cooking oil and animal feed – herbicide tolerance
Soybeans – livestock feed, vegetable oil, soy sauce, etc – insect resistance, herbicide tolerance
Summer Squash – food – disease resistance
Rainbow Papaya – disease resistance
Cotton – Fiber, animal feed, cottonseed oil – insect resistance and herbicide tolerance
Sugar Beets – sugar and animal feed – herbicide tolerance
We will cover Genetically Engineered crops in a future episode, but here are just a few reasons why these crops are beneficial and completely safe to eat. GE crops are more efficient in using water and nutrients as compared to regular crops, some GE crops can produce natural pesticides to fend off pests and diseases, and GE crops are tested more than any crop in history and are proven to be just as safe and nutritious as NON-GE varieties. The USDA, World Health Organization, and other agencies have all come to this consensus. Look at what the American Medical Association has to say on the matter.
The American Medical Association
“Foods derived from GM crops have been consumed by hundreds of millions of people across the world for more than 15 years, with no reported ill effects (or legal cases related to human health), despite many of the consumers coming from the most litigious of countries, the USA.”
A large number of items that have the ‘NON-GMO verified’ label, don’t even have any genetically engineered varieties. However, most if not all of them have been genetically modified by nature or by farmers generations ago.
This label is just a marketing ploy. Companies use this label because it helps their items sell. Consumers are afraid of what they don’t know; they think the ‘NON-GMO verified’ label means that item, in particular, is healthier than the item that doesn’t have it. Don’t buy into that hype, literally.
The root problem with this communication breakdown is twofold. The first being that companies, mainly advertising firms, need to stop using false information to make you want their product more than the competitors. Their marketing schemes might help sales go up, but it vastly misinforms the general public. The second problem is education. The agriculture community needs to do all it can to better inform consumers about their food and what goes into it. In addition, consumers must do a better job of fact-checking where they are getting their information as well as not believing all the labeling or advertising they see in stores or on television. The first step is not believing this label.
After seeing this video what do you think? Do you think the ‘NON-GMO verified’ label is misleading consumers? Or do you think the label is still appropriate? I reeeealy hope you don’t. Let us know in the comments below and we can keep this discussion going.