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Op-Ed: GMOs and food labeling ─ Taking control of what you eat Special

By Leigh Goessl     May 28, 2013 in Food
Washington - Despite the many labels required on food packaging, in the U.S., consumers do not have the right to know if they are eating foods containing GMOs. If the government won't intervene, it seems it's up to consumers to take charge.
This past weekend the March against Monsanto took place in communities across the world. Reportedly, over 2 million people participated. From Australia to the Americas, and dozens of countries in between, people gathered to protest Monsanto and other companies producing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Many of the activists in the U.S. are demanding GMO labeling laws, which to date, are dismally failing.
In the U.S., all kinds of labeling are required. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with other governing agencies, monitor to ensure labeling is accurately portrayed as required under various laws.
For foods, nutrition information, along with calorie and fat content, are only a few of the required items found on any given food product. Lawmakers even passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004 to ensure "major allergens", such as peanuts, are noted on food packages.
There are other labeling laws governing food and other products. Yet, foods containing GMOs are not required by any of these laws. GMOs are in many foods ─ primarily anything with corn or soy ─ but also other food products too. These commodity products are then filtered into other foods in the supply chain.
While some states are trying to pass legislation, to date, efforts are largely failing due to a variety of hurdles. In fact, just last week, lawmakers in Washington shot down a bill that would have allowed individual states to develop their own GMO labeling laws.
People in the Washington, D.C., area also participated in the May 25, 2013 global March against Monsanto event. Prior to the march, there was some rallying going on. One of the topics was controlling your food choices, along with your wallet.
While GMOs and the right-to-know is invisible in the U.S., there are companies that pledge to sell foods that do not contain GMOs.
Consumers can choose not to support Monsanto and other companies producing GMOs by not purchasing from them, but instead spending their dollars to companies that do not use GMO in their food supply chains.
There are some companies committed to openness about GMOs. For instance, Whole Foods Market recently developed its own policy increasing GMO transparency where its suppliers are concerned. Buying organic foods and supporting small, local farmers that do not use GMOs is another good way to make a statement. Or, if possible, grow your own.
Additionally, a new smartphone app has been developed. At the rally, one group of people were talking about the app. I came home and looked up more information on this app, which is called Buycott.
The app is designed for consumers to obtain information so they can make educated choices about their food beliefs. Underground Health explains:
Here’s a concrete example. If GMO labeling is an issue that is important to you. . . you can join two campaigns on Buycott. The first is “Demand GMO Labeling.” If you join this campaign, any time you scan a product from a company that donated more than $150,000 to oppose GMO labeling in California, the app will tell you that you’re avoiding buying products from that brand. The app keeps track of user input, making it easy to shop for products that don’t conflict with your beliefs. And this is what it is all about: knowing where your food comes from and where the dollars that buy it go.
Looking at the Buycott website, it appears there are numerous campaigns.
More awareness about GMO appears to be needed. At last weekend's event I witnessed numerous instances where people were approaching protestors and asking "What's a GMO?"
With the money spent by Monsanto and other companies to lobby against labeling laws, it appears this is how these companies want it ─ people in the dark about GMOs. Most companies are proud of what they sell, why does Monsanto and other companies want to hide the fact where their GMOs are on grocery shelves?
The government is not going to likely be giving people the right-to-know about GMOs any time soon in terms of labeling.
What consumers who want to avoid GMOs can do is take their own control of their food choices. Grow your own and/or selectively purchase from companies or farms that do not support or sell GMO foods.
For more on the rally and march in Washington: In photos ─ Activists March against Monsanto in Washington, D.C. and on YouTube:
Additional reading: March against Monsanto: A worldwide protest, May 25, 2013
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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