Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were first introduced in the 1990s with a shocking lack of public awareness: The news that novel organisms were entering the food supply simply wasn’t shared with the people who would end up eating them. Now, about 80% of packaged food sold in North American grocery stores contains GMOs. Genetic modification affects many of the products we consume on a daily basis.
Genetic engineering, also called biotechnology or bioengineering, is the process scientists use to make GMOs (genetically modified organisms). It includes any process in which genetic material is artificially manipulated in a laboratory, and may involve creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
The fact that the method is not natural, and the result does not occur in nature, is cause for concern to many consumers. The creation of a new species has the potential to cause unplanned effects on the environment and on human health. Transparency in food production and labeling is critical. Shoppers have a right to know if what they’re buying is good for people and planet. Since the US does not require labelling of foods that have been genetically modified, how can you know what you are buying?
Assume it is. If a product is not clearly labelled as NonGMO or GMO free, you should assume it contains GMOs. This is especially true for soy, corn, animal products, yellow squash and zucchini, and sugar beets and any foods derived from these.
Look for the Butterfly! The Non-GMO Project is one way to identify products that are free from GMOs. Non-GMO Project verification means that a product is compliant with the Non-GMO Project Standard, which includes stringent provisions for ingredient testing, traceability, and segregation. The transparency of the Non-GMO Project Verified Butterfly label means that trust and simplicity guide the choices we make at the grocery store. Just look for this symbol on hundreds of items.
Buy Organic. Organic producers cannot and would not knowingly use GMO seeds. And because organic food is grown as naturally as possible, organic foods are produced without using genetically modified organisms (GMOs).