Genetically Modified Foods: Good for You?

Where do you stand on genetically modified food?  If you're like most Americans, you'd rather not -- or at least know when you're eating it.

But the agriculture industry has been successful in fighting the distribution of this knowledge, using big bucks and political allies (read: Congressmen they sponsor).

But last month Vermont became the first state to pass a bill requiring "labeling of foods produced using these genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, and thankfully, my home state, Connecticut. Right to Know GMO, a self-described grass-roots coalition with members in 37 states, counts 26 states that have introduced labeling bills, passed its own, according to Dan D'Ambrosio of USA Today.

Barbara Boxer, Democrat from California, always in the forefront of protecting the consumer, whether from guns or artificially assembled food, told D'Ambrosio in an e-mail, "As more and more states take action, I believe lawmakers in Washington will realize that Congress and the FDA must ensure that all Americans know what's in the food they're eating."

Added Andrea Stander, executive director of Rural Vermont, a non-profit farm advocacy group,"The companies have such complete control over who can do independent research into the nature of these things and their impact that we really don't know very much.  We don't know nearly as much as we should."

Genetically modified foods are made from seeds that either have built-in resistance to insects, so pesticides won't be needed, or seeds that are open to herbicides, meaning they will tolerate it while also cutting down on weeds.

D'Ambrosio notes that about 90% of the corn, cotton, soybeans and sugar beets grown in the United States "are genetically engineered, according to BIO, the trade group representing Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, DuPont and other giant firms that dominate the industry."

Big ag doesn't want labels primarily because they fear they will make people see the food as unsafe, and it's not, they say.  But do we really know whether that's true or not?

"You've heard industry say, for example, that there is no evidence that these foods are harmful," Jane Rissler, PhD, said at "After all, people in the United States have been eating them for several years now. Do you believe that statement? Isn't it a bit disingenuous? How would we know if someone had gotten ill from genetically engineered food if it's not labeled? How could there be evidence if they haven't allowed the food to be labeled? They're now saying, 'Well, there's no evidence of harm.' But that's because they haven't allowed any way to track any harm."


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