It’s in There

Up to 80% of All Processed Foods in the U.S. Are Made With Genetically Modified Organisms.
You can’t tell if your bag of potato chips or box of cereal contains genetically modified ingredients based on the label, but chances are it does. Up to 80% of all processed foods in the U.S. are made with GMOs (genetically modified organisms). In other words, the corn syrup, soybean oil and beet sugar that’s added to the vast majority of food products shelved on the inner aisles of grocery stores comes from plants that have had their DNA altered so that they both contain a built-in pesticide and can withstand additional pesticides being sprayed over them. A handful of biotech companies make these special plant seeds and the chemical sprays, namely Monsanto, Dow, DuPont and Syngenta, and they have collectively poured tens of millions of dollars into a fight against labels on food packaging that would allow us to avoid these altered ingredients if we so choose.

Despite the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Admin-istration has deemed these ingredients safe for consumption, many other countries have decided that GMOs should be approached with caution and 61 countries note genetically modified ingredients on labels. In the U.S., a movement for full disclosure of GMOs in food—in the form of Prop 37—made serious inroads in California but ultimately failed after consumer advocacy groups were outspent and outmaneuvered in a negative media blitz by biotech companies.

This issue’s cover story, written by author and food activist Daniel Imhoff, details the cozy relationship enjoyed by Monsanto and its allies with government agencies and the health concerns that have emerged surrounding GMOs. And there are other worries about what GMOs are doing to the land, from destroying soil health and contaminating non-GMO crops to giving rise to superweeds that require increased applications of chemicals. The labeling fight is continuing in as many as 20 states, but it may not come soon enough to identify genetically modified salmon, apples and sweet corn which are under consideration for approval. For now, shoppers are left with only the organic or the Non-GMO Project Verified label as a guide for avoiding genetically modified ingredients in their next meal.