We have been buying GMO (genetically modified organisms) for over 15 years. The vast majority of corn, soy, canola, and sugar beets grown in the U.S. are now genetically engineered, and they are often used as ingredients in processed foods. New salmon breeds that reach maturity faster are being introduced to consumers. Farmers are growing crops that are disease resistant and potatoes that do not suffer bruising.
But, in reality we have been modifying food for years by hybridization. Many types of fruits and vegetables have been developed by grafting one type of plant to another for desired change. But, this process is an alteration of natural selection and not the injection of a gene to change the food characteristics like taste, freshness over time, ripening, and disease resistance. But this process has changed with our ability to manipulate the genetic structure of foods almost at will. But, it very much a double edged sword; the countries in the world that are food insecure could benefit greatly from food that lasts longer, grows in poorer soil, require less water, and matures more quickly. However, a 15 year history of products being consumed is not really long enough to judge long-term effects on humans. There is general agreement that GMO have not caused any untoward or medical concerns and the scientific community has generally blessed the science behind genetic manipulation.
Now let’s consider the problem that always contaminates any discussion of food safety. And that is the role of companies that supply genetically altered seeds that are bound by profit and not by humanitarian desires like Monsanto, and other large scale producers. Despite the fact that most countries require labeling to identify GMO foods, the US does not. It is the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) that should be watching out for problems in the food supply chain. But the issue with GMO is similar to the safety of vitamins and dietary supplements. Nobody is watching the store!
So, the question now being debated is whether or not labeling should be mandatory on all GMO products. But, my observation is that labeling may tell us that it is modified, but what does that mean? Without good information concerning changes in our food we are on our own to decide if we trust the companies and the genetic engineers to follow due diligence before selling it to us. My fear is that the pipeline will be full of products that have been modified long before we have adequate information. But, there is a link to a Scientific American article to provide some context here. It seems as if bon appetite has become caveat emptor.