Labeling Foods that are Genetically Engineered (GMO)

Shouldn’t We Know if Our Food Has Been Genetically Engineered?  

Maureen McDonnell, BS, RN

It is estimated that at least 70% of processed foods in grocery stores contain genetically-modified ingredients; mostly from corn, soy, canola, sugar beets and cottonseed.  I’ve been studying nutrition for 35 years, and although I knew there were concerns about the safety of genetically-engineered food, I had no idea that much of our food supply was affected by this technology!   One reason many of us may lack this knowledge has to do with the fact that the food and biotech industries would rather we remain in the dark.   As a matter of fact, those same industries will spend close to 100 million dollars on advertising in California alone trying to convince consumers there (where an initiative requiring labeling of genetically- engineered food will be voted on come November) that labeling is not necessary.    The ads are designed to make us think that somehow if genetically- engineered foods were marked as such; it would work against farmers, increase the price of food and contribute to world hunger.

Although bipartisan polls (89% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats) suggest that most consumers are in favor of their right to know, and strongly agree with the idea of labeling, our own health protection agencies such as the FDA and the American Medical Association haven’t yet taken a strong stand on this issue.  Instead they make ludicrous and confusing claims stating GMOs are safe and equivalent nutritionally to conventionally grown food varieties.  One of the AMA board members Patrice Harris stated  “…. there is currently no evidence that there are material differences or safety concerns in available bio-engineered foods”

Really Patrice?  Have you read any of the reports from the Kings College in the UK or Leipzig University or do you wonder at all why 40 countries in Europe have chosen to label their GMO food and products?

According to health writer Melinda Hemmelgarn, research from these two prestigious universities   shows links between GMO crops and increased incidence of mutations, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, allergies, birth defects, cancer, reproductive failure and other health effects.   Damage to the non-target crop and the accumulation in the soil of products used to grow GMO crops accumulating in the soil without the normal biodegrading process is also a serious consideration.

Similar to the recent concern over the practice of vaccinating our children with 36-45 vaccines before the age of 5 and the upsurge in autism, allergies, childhood cancers and other escalating health conditions, genetically altering our food supply is an experiment that has not been well thought out and may very possibly prove to cause dire health consequences.

GMO: Politics as Usual: On, Dr. Mercola borrows the following phrase from Bill Maher:  “Here’s a New Rule: anytime a GMO advocate gushes about the benefits and safety of genetically engineered products, someone must recite the following statistics from Food & Water Watchxvi:

  1. Since 1999, the 50 largest agricultural and food patent-holding companies and two of the largest biotechnology and agrochemical trade associations have spent more than $572 million in campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures.
  2. Lobbying expenditures for food and agricultural biotechnology more than doubled between 1999 and 2009, rising 102.8 percent from $35 million in 1999 to $71 million in 2009.
  3. Food and agricultural biotechnology PACs made more than $22 million in campaign contributions since 1999.
  4. Food and agriculture biotechnology firms employ more than 300 former congressional and White House staff members as lobbyists.
  5. In addition to in-house lobbyists, the food and agricultural biotechnology firms employed more than 100 lobbying firms in 2010.”

Being a strong believer in the laws of nature, it goes against my grain to think that genetic engineering (messing with Mother Nature) is safe.  How can it not produce consequences to our health when scientists cross species barriers and insert a gene from one organism into another that would not normally occur?  Examples include inserting bacterial DNA into a plant to affect traits such as pest or herbicide resistance.   Plant pathologist and Purdue University Professor Emeritus Don Huber, Ph.D. speaks out internationally about the risky business of biotechnology.   Although we are told from Monsanto that GMO’s will provide affordable food for the masses, Dr. Huber states that “all the yield increases in the last 15 years have been through traditional plant breeding programs”.

When it comes to the idea that genetically engineered food will be economical, another professor, Yale economist Karen McAfee , found that the only entity that benefited financially from GMO’s is the biotechnology industry.

Protecting ourselves:  Since the majority of processed food is genetically-engineered, it makes sense to instead buy from local farmers and use fresh, whole, 100%, non-GMO organic food.  Call me a dreamer, but if enough of us follow these simple strategies as well as exercise our right to fight for legislation that (maybe will someday outlaw, but for now at the very least mandates proper labeling), it may be  possible for us to outsmart these deceptive, profit- driven corporate giants!



Maureen H. McDonnell, RN

I am a registered nurse with a strong interest in helping to reverse the escalating number of children affected by chronic illnesses. After coordinating the Defeat Autism Now! Conferences for 10 years, I joined forces with Jill Urwick to form Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet. This website and our conferences focus on the role nutrition and toxins in the environment are playing in Autism, ADHD, childhood cancers, etc. More importantly, our goal is to offer solution-based information that is both practical and affordable.

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