Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kicking GMOs Out of the Marketplace

An excerpt from an article by Jeffery M. Smith


Concern about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply is attracting a lot of attention these days: FDA’s attempt to fast-track approval of genetically engineered salmon has resulted in unprecedented media coverage; “GMO-Free" was the fastest growing claim for store brands in 2009; it’s now the fifth fastest overall health and wellness claim; and Supermarket News predicted 2010 would see an unprecedented upsurge in consumer concern about GMOs.
While it would be great if awareness spurred action to regulate GMOs, don’t hold your breath. FDA doesn’t require GMO labeling and this is unlikely to change soon.

Consumers Can Kick Out GMOs

The good news is when it comes to making changes in our food supply, consumers are in control. Since GMOs don’t offer a single consumer benefit, if even a small percentage of shoppers stopped purchasing products containing them, they’d be dropped by food companies.
This is what happened in Europe. In 1999, the biotech industry was projecting GMO seeds would replace 95 percent of commercial seeds within five years. But when a gag order was lifted on a top scientist who discovered GMO health dangers, a media firestorm ensued. Ten weeks and 750 articles later, most European food companies had committed to stop using GM ingredients.
In the United States, consumers forced GM bovine growth hormone (rbGH) out of most dairy products and dairy cases, including Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Dannon and Yoplait.

Starting a Revolution in Natural Products Stores

Although medical organizations, such as the American Public Health Association and American Nurses Association routinely condemn rbGH, the backlash didn’t begin with them. The tipping point was the reaction of health-conscious shoppers, especially parents, who shop at natural products stores.
This same demographic can push out GMOs. Experts estimate only about 5 percent of non-GMO shoppers are needed in the United States to achieve the tipping point. Already 28 million Americans, or 9.3 percent, buy organic products regularly. That’s more than we need.
Although most of these folks say they would avoid GMOs if they could, many aren’t sure which products are genetically modified, and how dangerous they can be. Retailers can provide this information and empower this trend-setting force to launch the non-GMO tidal wave. Here’s how.

Identifying GMOs and How to Avoid Them

The majority of soy (91 percent), corn (85 percent), cottonseed (87 percent, used for oil), canola (85 percent) and sugar beets (95 percent) are GMOs. Their derivatives are found in more than 70 percent of foods in the supermarket. All five crops have varieties that are spliced with bacterial genes to allow them to withstand deadly weed killers like Roundup.
Most Hawaiian papaya is genetically engineered to resist a virus, as are some zucchini and yellow crook neck squash. There’s also milk from cows treated with rbGH, and dairy and meat from animals fed GM feed. Aspartame is made from a GM micro-organism, and there are GM enzymes used in food production that aren’t even on the label.
Organic products don’t allow the use of GMOs, and plenty of other products are labeled as non-GMO.


Why Avoid GMOs?

Although most natural products shoppers say they would avoid GMOs if given a choice, it helps to give them compelling reasons to switch brands. That’s easy. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine cites animal feeding studies linking GMOs to reproductive, immune, gastrointestinal, organ and aging disorders. They are urging all doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets.
To help retailers educate shoppers, our Institute offers GMO Health Risk Brochures that summarize the risks. These, as well as Shopping Guides, books and DVDs, are part of our Non-GMO Education Centers, designed by and for retailers.

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