We live in a world where science is constantly advancing, providing us with limitless technological avenues to explore. But because of this very fact, our idea of what is best for our bodies and our environment is often clouded with confusion and controversy. The ever-growing debate surrounding GMOs falls into this very idea.
While the fight to eliminate them entirely from our world is ongoing, it’s also becoming a big deal to, at the very least, inform consumers of their presence in companies’ products. Just last year Campbell Soup Co. announced that it would no longer include artificial ingredients in its products in response to consumer demand for natural foods.
This week, the company made another big announcement. Campbell has become the first major company to label genetically modified ingredients in its food. Why does this matter so much? Let’s take a deeper look at GMOs:
What Are GMOs?
Genetically modified foods are living organisms whose DNA are artificially made in a laboratory through genetic engineering. Unlike plant, animal, and micro–organisms like bacteria and fungi, that occur naturally, or are created using crossbreeding techniques, commercial GMOs are created by injecting artificial DNA of a foreign species into a plant. Because this has never been a natural occurrence, we are unaware of the longterm repercussions of this process.
What’s The Point?
It’s all about “efficiency,” where crop durability and food security provide people with the food they need at prices they believe are to be desired. In these foods, genes have been introduced to kill off insects or weeds in order to increase their longevity. Some survive and thrive with less water than they would in their natural state. Some ripen faster, giving farmers the ability to provide more product in just one year alone, enhancing their income while keeping prices low. The GE giants behind this movement seek to keep up with the ever-growing supply and demand of the food industry due to our rapidly growing global population. Scientists even modify foods to increase their nutrient content.
Are GMOs Safe?
There has been overwhelming concern regarding GMOs in our food supply due to growing evidence that they cause health problems, environmental damage, and violate both farmers’ and consumers’ rights. Most countries agree with this. In fact, over 60 countries have either extreme restrictions or full-on bans on them. The U.S. government, on the other hand, has approved the production and sale of GMOs on the advice of specific studies carried out by the corporations in charge of both creating as well as making a profit from them.
Are They Labeled?
This is where the controversy really gets tricky, as Americans continue to fight for their right to know what is in their food. This information has continued to be kept from the public given the successful efforts of the agrochemical and biotech industry in keeping any laws, federally or per state, from being passed. In 2012, the GE giants, including Monsanto, DuPont, Dow AgroSciences, Bayer CropScience, BASF Plant Science, and Syngenta, dished out more than 20 million dollars to stop GMOs from being labeled in California. But in 2014, Vermont successfully became the first state to approve a law requiring food companies to disclose if GMOs are in their products.
Why Campbell’s Announcement Matters
Despite the fact that GMOs continue to be vehemently opposed, 75 percent of processed foods in the U.S. contain them, yet Americans aren’t given the information to know if they want to buy a specific product with this in mind or not. And 93 percent of them aren’t happy about it — urging for these ingredients to be labeled once and for all.
Campbell Soup Co. is adhering to consumers’ desires to know what is what, and now fans of the brand will be able to pick up such items as Prego tomato sauce, V8 juices, and Pepperidge Farm cookies and know that they are, indeed, genetically modified.
Of their decision to disclose this information, Campbell’s CEO Denise Morrison explained, “Our purpose calls for us to acknowledge that consumers appreciate what goes into our food, and why — so they can feel good about the choices they make.” You can expect the change to take place in the next year to year and a half.
Of the announcement, Ronnie Cummins, International Director of the Organic Consumers Association said, “Today’s announcement by Campbell’s marks a significant win on the GMO labeling front for consumers.
“The decision by Campbell’s sends a clear message to Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association which have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat GMO labeling laws. And unless Campbell’s announces price hikes resulting from these new labels, this move proves that industry threats that labels will makes products more expensive have been nothing more than empty fear mongering.
“Ultimately we would like to see Campbell’s source only organic ingredients, from suppliers that use organic, regenerative farming practices. And we disagree with the company’s claims that GMOs are safe, especially given that about 85 percent of GMO crops are grown with Monsanto’s Roundup, which contains glyphosate, a probable carcinogen, according to the World Health Organization. But we congratulate the company for being the first major brand to provide transparency around GMO ingredients.”
Image: Natural Society
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