What Are Genetically Engineered Foods (GMOs)? A genetically engineered food is a plant or meat product that has had its DNA artificially altered in a laboratory by genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria in order to produce foreign compounds in that food. This type of genetic alteration is not found in nature and is experimental. Many of the foods we currently eat and feed our families (including certain baby formulas and a high percentage of corn, soy, cotton and sugar beets commonly used in processed foods sold in the U.S.), but we don’t know which ones without labeling.
Example: Genetically Modified corn has been engineered in a laboratory to produce pesticides in its own tissue. GMO corn is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency as an Insecticide, but is sold unlabeled. [EPA Pesticides]. Walmart is now selling Monsanto’s sweet corn that has been genetically engineered to contain an insecticide, but consumers don’t know because it’s not labeled.
Why Label GMOs?
Widespread public support
Polls conducted by professional news organizations including the Washington Post, MSNBC and Reuters/NPR consistently show that over 90% of consumers want GM ingredients labeled. As ABC News stated, “Such near-unanimity in public opinion is rare.”
Right to Know, Need to Know
GMOs have not been proven safe, and long-term health studies have not been conducted. A growing body of peer-reviewed studies has linked these foods to allergies, organ toxicity, and other health problems. These studies must be followed up. However, unlike the strict safety evaluations required for the approval of new drugs, the US Food and Drug Administration does not require safety studies for genetically engineered foods. According to internal memos, safety concerns expressed by the FDA’s own scientists were overridden by FDA administrators.
No Cost to Consumers or Food Producers
Companies change their labeling all the time, and dozens of other countries have already introduced GMO labeling without increasing food costs.
Support local agriculture
MA has a rich tradition of valuing our local farms and farmers and supporting locally grown produce. GMO labeling will only enhance rather than undermine this tradition, by allowing consumers to make informed choices and increasing demand for local non-GMO products. .
Mitigate Environmental Risks
Superweeds and pests have become resistant to GMO-affiliated herbicides and toxic pesticide use has increased. GMO crops easily contaminate non-GMO crops, threatening organic agriculture and the consumer’s ability to choose non-GMO foods.
Support food democracy and the free market
The free market is supposed to provide consumers with accurate information about products so we can make informed choices. GMO labeling will provide consumers with information to make informed decisions about the food they purchase for personal, religious, moral, cultural, ethical, health, environmental and economic reasons.
Setting the standard or federal mandatory GMO labeling
The states are leading the way toward a uniform federal standard for GMO labeling. We can’t wait on the federal government to take the lead on this. With 3 states having already passed GMO labeling laws and more than half of the country considering it, Massachusetts now has the opportunity to send a strong message to Washington D.C.