RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Just Label It, a new campaign pressuring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling of food containing genetically engineered (GE) material, is providing relief to consumers growing increasingly wary of biotech ingredients in the food supply. The campaign is different than previous food-safety appeals in that it isn’t calling for an all-out ban on genetically engineered ingredients; mandatory labeling would just allow shoppers to make the call.
More on GMOs:
What are GMO Foods?
What Biotech Pesticides Are Doing to Our Bodies
12 Household Toxins You Should Banish from Your Home
GE ingredients have been infiltrating the food supply on a widespread scale for about the last decade, although these foods—genetically altered to resist high levels of chemical pesticides—has never been thoroughly tested or proven safe. Ingredients derived from GMO crops, mainly corn, cotton (cottonseed is a common processed food ingredient), soy, and canola, are ubiquitous in the nonorganic food supply…even foods labeled as "natural" often contain GMO material.
"Debates about the benefits and risks of GE crops will continue. Meanwhile, an entire generation will have grown up consuming them," the campaign's website, JustLabelIt.org, states. "We should all have a choice about whether we want to participate in this grand experiment with our bodies and our environment. We have a right to know what’s in our food."
The good news is that the push for GMO labeling is something U.S. shoppers overwhelmingly support—a whopping 93 percent say they want labeling. (93 percent of Americans rarely agree on anything!) Currently, about 60 to 70 percent of processed foods in supermarkets contain GMO ingredients.
Chemical companies call GMOs the only way to feed the world, although that myth has been routinely debunked. Despite the complete lack testing to find out how GMOs can impact our long-term health, several National Academy of Sciences studies have found that GMO crops could be introducing new toxins or allergens into the food system and environment.
Many GMO crops are developed to withstand heavy sprayings of toxic pesticides, which also wind up in the food and even the air. Between 1996 and 2008, when GMOs went mainstream in nonorganic farming, pesticide use increased by 383 million pounds.
Here's what you can do to avoid GMOs until the experimental food is labeled:
• Sign the Just Label It petition. Having choices in the marketplace is something that Americans take pride in, but that right is stripped of you every time you set foot in a grocery store because GMOs aren't required to be labeled. Take part in the historic Just Label It campaign by signing the online GMO labeling petition. Then, share on Facebook and Twitter so your friends can do the same. (Celebs like Adrian Grenier are already spreading the word through Twitter.)
• Buy organic as often as possible. GMOs are banned in organic farming and in organic food, although the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves more genetically engineered crops, the risk of cross-contamination through pollen increases.
• Avoid the five bad boys. Corn, soy, cotton, canola, and sugar (in nonorganic form) are the five ingredients most likely to be genetically engineered. If you can't buy organic, then at least look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal. They test for GMOs, but not pesticide residues.
• Cut back on packaged food. GMO soy- and corn-derived ingredients often aren't called just "corn" or "soy" on the package. Processed foods generally contain tons of harmful additives and excess sodium, so it's in your best interest to cut back anyway. When you do opt for packaged food, tap the The 20 Best Organic Foods.