Monday, May 2, 2011

Please Label GM Ingredients!

My Favorite!
I've been pretty hypocritical lately.  I've been under a lot of stress these past few weeks, and I've found myself eating junk foods that normally would be off limits because of their genetically modified ingredients.  During our house-selling/moving process, I discovered Ben & Jerry's ice cream and have personally eaten 4 pints in just as many weeks.  In fact, I even went so far as to write my name on top of a container telling my family that I was not sharing and that the container was off limits.  Ben & Jerry's has a great story to tell about their allergen labeling, their rBST-free dairy and cage-free egg ingredients and Fair Trade chocolate and vanilla.  However, on their website, they do state that they are unable to use other non-GM ingredients.

On the other hand though, I've been super worked up about the use of genetically modified ingredients and there not being a legal requirement for companies to label these ingredients.  In order to find out if Ben & Jerry's used GM ingredients, I had to do significant searching on their website.  As parents of allergic children, we're used to constantly contacting food manufacturers, so we all know it's a time-consuming process.  Now add to that finding a company's policy on the use of genetically modified ingredients.  It's no longer about just trying to avoid peanuts and tree nuts to keep Abigail safe, it's now also about trying to protect the health of my whole family.

There is a big movement right now in the organic community to pressure stores to insist their food suppliers label foods.  I think the realization is that we can't depend on our government to force the issue by passing a law.  I did do my part though by contacting my state representatives.  The target store right now is Whole Foods.  According to the article, "Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto," by Ronnie Cummings who writes for the Organic Consumers Association, "a self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it’s time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of genetically engineered crops, such as Monsanto’s controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for “coexistence” with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack."

What's the main reason Whole Foods surrendered?  According to the same article, "Whole Foods is pleading for coexistence with Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, BASF and the rest of the biotech bullies, because they desperately want the controversy surrounding genetically engineered foods and crops to go away. Why? Because they know, just as we do, that 2/3rd's of WFM’s $9 billion annual sales is derived from so-called “natural” processed foods and animal products that are contaminated with GMOs."

Here's a YouTube clip of a protester trying to get answers at a Whole Foods as to what products contained genetically modified ingredients.  Her point... if you'd require labeling, consumers could make educated purchasing decisions and the store employees would know what they were selling.  However, as a Monsanto executive stated,  If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it. 

If you're unclear abut the "natural" versus organic labeling, here's a link to an older post on my blog to get you started.

Back to to Ben & Jerry's.  While they do use GM ingredients for their US products (they've re-formulated the European flavors because of it's GMO-free requirements), they are actively, and have been for years, trying to find alternatives to GM soy and corn ingredients.  Per their website, "Our goal is to be GMO-free in both our domestic and international products. Some of the issues we are confronting at the present time are the availability of a non-GMO supply of alternatives such as corn syrup and add-ins such as candies, and certification of those supplies. Currently we cannot obtain secure free assurances from all of our suppliers."  I've got to give them some credit for trying!

1 comment:

James T. Fisher said...

Labeling gmo focuses on providing useful information to all consumers by indicating which ingredient or foods include ingredients that are genetically modified.