An Intro to GMOs and the Path of Less Consumption

The buzz around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has grown to a fever pitch in recent months, with approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture of three new kinds of genetically engineered (GE) foods: alfalfa (which becomes hay), a type of corn grown to produce ethanol, and sugar beets. And the approval by the Food and Drug Administration of a super-fast-growing salmon — the first genetically modified animal to be sold in the U.S., but probably not the last — may not be far behind.

As the New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman notes in his blog, the subject is unquestionably complex. Few people outside of scientists working in the field understand much of anything about gene altering. Though many profess to know exactly what the existence of GMOs in our food will result in (both positive and negative), the truth is that there is much investigation yet to be done and that science is adolescent at best; not even its strongest advocates can guarantee that there aren’t hidden dangers. So why doesn’t the United States follow the lead of Europe and demand the labeling of all foods containing GMOs and therefore allow the consumer to have all the information they need to make their own decisions? In other words, what happened to the free market?

As covered in the Christian Science Monitor, the GM threats to biodiversity and democracy are closely related. When you pair proprietary technology that’s designed to retain company control of seeds (the very lifeblood of our food supply) along with highly concentrated market control, you get a hazardous blend of ecological, economic, and political centralization.

It is with these issues in mind that many non-GMO movements have sprung up in the past few weeks. The Organic Consumers Association and activists involved in the Millions Against Monsanto campaign gathered people in 23 locations around the country in a March 26th Rally for the Right to Know. You can read all about it over at They also have a nice article about the Top Ten Ways to Avoid GMOs.

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