The labeling of genetically modified foods has been a topic of debate for many years. In Oregon, Measure 92 was not passed in the recent midterm election. This means GMO foods are not required to be labelled as such. In Lane County, however, the measure passed. What this means for Lane County, I’m not quite sure.
In an article from the Register Guard, it was said that Measure 92 was the most expensive measure in Oregon history. Supporters of 92 raised over $8 million, while critics such as Monsanto, General Mills and Kraft Foods raised over $20 million.
Before going too deep into this issue, we should understand a few things about GMOs. Corn is the most common genetically modified food, so I’ll use it as an example.
Scientists extract ideal genes from one variety of corn and combine them with other ideal genes from other varieties, eventually creating a new breed. It’s like taking desired features from different people and combining them to create the most ideal person ever. It doesn’t necessarily mean that chemicals are used in the production process, although GMOs have made it possible for farmers to use pesticides more without damaging the crop.
I’m not for or against this issue, but it exists and people should be educated on it.
Yes, people should have the right to know what exactly they are eating. Yes, GMO is frowned upon. I don’t believe it is healthy for us to ingest genetically modified foods long term.
However, I see the other side to the story as well. It is nearly impossible to find a single kernel of corn in the U.S. that has not been genetically modified. Even the seeds that farmers plant have been modified. The world’s largest seed producer, Monsanto, uses genetic modification.
What the public should understand is that if it became mandatory to label all GMOs, cost of production would increase for food manufacturers. This would ultimately result in an increase in food prices. People that can afford these increased food prices can probably already afford to buy foods voluntarily labeled as GMO-free.
From a PR point of view, I would like to see food giants such as General Mills and PepsiCo own up to their lack of support for the mandatory labeling of GMOs and explain their reasoning behind it. The reasoning they give should be consumer-related rather than company-related. For example, explain how the consumers would be affected instead of the company.
Like I said before, I am not an advocate for or against the labeling of GMOs. It’s just a reality in our country. I am, however, an advocate for eating local. Local foods are the best of all worlds for these reasons:
- They are typically GMO-free
- They are usually organic or all-natural (no harmful chemicals used)
- They are available in the natural season of the crop
- They taste so much better
- They are often cheaper than the grocery store
- You are supporting your local farmers and community members
Eat local to avert GMOs and support your local economy.
For more information on Measure 92 and the pros and cons of GMOs:
*Photos courtesy of: myinwood.net, hugsandkeepsakes.blogspot.com, anneberryhill.com and magmire.net