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Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's)
A Consumer's Right to Know

"While its applications to medicine may or may not prove beneficial, when it comes to our food supply, you must be concerned about the disruptive effect genetic engineering may have on our environment and whether long-term human health issues have been thoroughly addressed." As both a consumer and health conscious individual, we must all insist on mandatory labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients. "Labeling will enable consumers to avoid products produced by means that may be contradictory to religious, spiritual, and or ethical beliefs. Consumers simply have a right to choose for themselves between genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered food products."

What is genetic engineering?

"Genetic engineering is a modern form of biotechnology - a broad term describing processes such as cross-breeding, plant hybridization and fermentation. While humans have used biotechnology for thousands of years, genetic engineering is a relatively new and rapidly developing technology that is raising public concern. Genetic engineering focuses on the manipulation (blocking, adding, or scrambling) of the genetic material (the DNA) inside the cells of living organisms to block or add desired traits. The results are often termed a genetically modified organism, commonly abbreviated as GMO.

As of the 1999 production season, the major commercial food crops grown in the US with the potential to be genetically modified include canola, red-hearted chicory, (radicchio), corn, cotton, papaya, potato, soybean, sugar beet, rice, tomato, and yellow crook-neck squash. While the actual types of crops currently available as genetically modified appears limited, the list includes corn and soybeans, two food crops that are extensively used in processed foods. With estimates that 35% of corn and 55% of soybeans grown in the US during 1999 are genetically modified, approximately 60% of processed foods may contain these and other GMO ingredients. Yet another common GMO food source is dairy products from cows injected with the genetically modified hormone recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). Because there are no laws mandating these ingredients must be labeled as genetically modified, consumers may unwittingly be consuming genetically modified ingredients, whether they want to or not." This may or may not prove detrimental to one's overall health, especially in food allergies.

Buy Organic -

"Whole Foods brand features certified organic ingredients whenever possible, providing another verification of no genetically modified ingredients for those particular products. Fortunately, genetic modification of crops, livestock and ingredients in processed foods is not allowed in organic food production, a standard that the US Department of Agriculture agreed would be retained in the future National Organic Standards. Accordingly, a wide array of organic products are available at Whole Foods Market and other health food stores."

What can you do about the Genetic Modification of our food supply?

Plenty! First, support manufacturers who are making the effort to provide non-genetically modified ingredients within their products. But don't stop there! Let the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and your favorite manufacturers know how you feel about the genetic engineering of our food supply. Tell them that the only way you can make an informed choice whether or not to purchase foods with genetically modified ingredients is if these foods are labeled accordingly.

Send a short, to the point, originally drafted letters (no form letters) to:

Jane E. Henney, M.D .
Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 1471
Mailstop: H F-1
Rockville, MD 20857

And to:

Dan Glickman
Secretary of Agriculture
US Department of Agriculture
200 A Whitten Building
1400 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20250

Write or call your Congressperson and your state's Food and Drug Division, too. Our tax dollars fund both organizations and it's important that those who represent us in the government know how we want our money spent. To locate your Senators/Representatives Call the US Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3141. To contact manufacturers, look for their complete address printed on the product packaging.

Information obtained from Whole Foods Market.

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