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The genetically modified organisms issue has increased my awareness as a food technologist and nutritionist. What many critics of GMO labeling overlook is that this alteration of our food supply was made without public awareness and understanding.
As a nutrition educator, I believe a lot of the GMO hysteria is based on the audacity of corporate behemoths to fund and perpetuate, at any cost, a technology that cannot currently be monitored. American consumers were left uninformed and naive, while their European counterparts took a stand against having “fish genes added to their tomatoes so they could withstand cold temperatures better.” U.S. consumers believed USDA and FDA were monitoring the food supply. Europeans showed Americans they were only interested in food prices and not food quality.
There is no turning back the clock in biotechnology. I doubt that potatoes, corn, and wheat exist in the U.S. that have not had biotechnology alterations during the past decade. That means human health, animal well being, and environmental quality have all been impacted by genetically modified organisms already.
Over the past 50 years, the American food industry has expanded, while consumers know less and less about food production and preparation. Trust was established in light of this ignorance. Food safety defined by the scientific community is based on acceptable risk. Consumers view food safety based on individual illness or injury caused from ingesting the food. It is possible for biotechnology to produce potentially hazardous foods. Food sensitivities to peanuts, nuts, and fish are well documented in the medical literature. Inserting these proteins into foods without an exhaustive safety review and adequate product labeling could possibly result in death to some individuals.
We are all guinea pigs in the GMO study. Our rights of informed consent were violated by Monsanto and Novartis years ago, when these foods first began infiltrating into our food supply. The best American consumers can hope for in minimizing exposure to GMOs is product labeling like I found in the Falkland Islands last February. If consumers 1,000 miles from Antarctica can select non-GMO products, Americans should certainly be able to get their foods properly labeled.
—Betty Wedman-St Louis, St. Petersburg, Fla.