Here are some facts:
1) GMO is *not* the same as hybridization. If someone says, “we’ve been genetically engineering food for centuries.” They’re only partially correct. Historically farmers and agriculturalists have crossed like with like. E.g., pluot, broccolini, etc. Genetic engineering is like with UNlike. E.g., Corn DNA with soil bacteria DNA. (BT Corn. Actual product in our food.) The two would never cross without human intervention.
2) Labeling of GMO’s is required in 64 countries around the world. The companies pouring in money to fight labeling actually already do it with the products they sell overseas. (General Mills, Kraft, Pepsi, Coke…) One reason European countries cite for labeling is the ability to track potential allergens.
Here is an example of Hershey’s syrup from the UK, where GMO labeling has been in place for many years:
3) A recent study found the GMO labeling cost to consumers? $2.30 per year. YEAR. Not day-week-month. YEAR.
4) Since the introduction of GMO’s to our food supply, the use of Glyphosate (aka RoundUp) and other agricultural chemicals has increased exponentially as the bugs and weeds evolve to withstand the heavy spraying. It’s in our rainwater, urine, breastmilk….and being sprayed or dripped constantly. The chemical has a proven (negative) effect on human cells. GMO crops are, in fact, increasing dependence on agricultural chemicals, not decreasing it as was previously thought.
5) The definition of epigenetics: relating to or arising from nongenetic influences on gene expression. In other words, how we interact with our environment and the everyday things in it (food, chemicals, even social interactions, etc.) influences our genetics. Previously, it was thought that these “epi-tags” would not carry through from generation to generation. New research on genetic science (long after genetic engineering of food made the scene) has found that, in fact, what your grandmother ate or was exposed to environmentally actually affects YOU and your children. My argument: how do we know what we engineer now will appear two generations down the line? Learn more about epigenetics here: (and please pay particular attention to number 2: prenatal care and exposure to pesticides and herbicides.
6) The effects of what we interact with in our environment isn’t always known right away. An NPR story on rats and DDT illustrates the science of epigenetics: rats exposed to DDT had third-generation obesity amongst the population. Meaning, the DDT-exposed rat’s great-grandchildren were obese. DDT is a pesticide that was heavily used post-World War II. It was banned in 1972 because of concern over it’s affect on human health.
The science of epigenetics is emerging and we are learning more all of the time. It appears we won’t know the long-term effects of environmental exposures and changes to our food supply on human health for generations to come. Is exercising caution and implementing GMO labeling *that* big of a deal?
7) REMINDER: It’s a LABEL. That’s it. No one is telling these megacorps that they can’t use GM ingredients. We are telling them they should let us know, so we can make an informed choice. That’s it. Choice. If the presence of GMO’s in your food doesn’t bother you: no problem. If it does bother you or give you pause, shouldn’t you be able to choose?
I want to say, here, that I am not anti-science. I am grateful for all the discoveries science has brought us. Vaccines, antibiotics, the computer I’m typing this post on…the list goes on. What I do believe is blind faith in of-the-moment science can have consequences we aren’t prepared for. At one point we were collectively told formula was better than breastmilk, because science had produced a better product. We know, through science, that is simply not the case. We were told that margarine was better for us than butter, because science had concluded that the fats from butter were causing heart disease. Food science then created a product called “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils,” also known as trans-fats. Through science we have now concluded margarine is actually much worse than butter on human health.
Science is not infallible.
The time has come for GMO labeling.