Monsanto has a one year lease to grow and harvest genetically modified crops with the passage of H.R. 933. In the United States, as long as the genetically modified crop is legal, producers don’t have to inform consumers that the foods are GM. 75 percent of processed foods with genetically modified origins are sold in grocery stores in the United States.
Opponents of the legislation and opponents of GMOs say that food companies should label their foods with GM information in the same way they label caloric and fat content. Food companies feel that process is costly. Monsanto is one of the largest, and most profitable corporations in the world.
Long labeled “franken foods” the most severe criticism of GM crops comes from anti-GMO crusaders who say that the GMOs on supermarket shelves has led to a rise in soy related allergies. There are also concerns that GMOs are responsible for a rise in Bt immune response and reproductive problems.
But that isn’t true in a number of countries around the globe. All of Europe, Russia, China and South Africa require labeling on foods that contain GM ingredients. Japan has also imposed GM restrictions and bans.
In the United States, there are six common sources of genetically modified organisms. Products containing soy, corn, canola, and sugar beets are likely the results of genetic engineering. These foods contain byproducts like high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, and vegetable and canola oils.
Simply put, avoiding GMOs means cutting down or eliminating conventional foods that contain soy, canola, corn, sugar beets, beef of cows that were not 100 percent grass fed, and processed foods, including cheese.
Half of North America’s soy crops are genetically engineered. 85 percent of the corn grown in the United States is genetically engineered. Genetically engineered canola is so ingrained in the U.S. that graduate students found GM strains growing wild alongside roads in North Dakota one year.
Conventionally raised cows are likely fed GMO corn to help increase fat marbling. If the beef is not organic, the cows should be grass fed before slaughter. Processed foods, cheeses for example, are likely to have at least one genetically modified ingredient. Consumers can avoid GMOs by choosing whole foods and cooking and preparing the food themselves.
Genetically modified sugar beets were introduced to the U.S. in 2009. Like many GMO crops, the strain was introduced so the food would become herbicide resistant and lethal to insects.
Organic farmers raise their crops without chemicals to control pestilence. Environmentalists and health advocates are most opposed to H.R. 933 because it’s no longer disputable that process foods encourage obesity and other health related diseases (diabetes, for example) and vegetarians, vegans especially, are wary of their whole and organic foods being traded off for foods that are bred to kill other animals. (Some GMO crops are genetically modified so that they kill insects that may destroy the plant or a farmer’s crops).
photo: Genetically modified plums. The plums were grown GMO to make them resistances to a pox carried by aphids.