“This food contains genetically modified ingredients.” Such a label on food items is being demanded by food-conscious individuals, as demonstrated in Foley Square of Manhattan’s Civic Center neighborhood yesterday. Organic Consumers Assocation says that yesterday’s “World Food Day” was the largest day of action against genetically engineered food (or genetically modified organisms) in US history, as part of its “Millions Against Monsanto Campaign” and falling within “Non-GMO Month,” A.K.A. October.
Though GMOs have increasingly characterized American food since 1996, these actions come in response to the Obama Administration’s approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered sweet corn, alfalfa and sugar beets. The usual approval process was fast tracked for sweet corn in particular, because it involves a combination of two previously approved traits, according to Food and Water Watch in a blast-email. The group also says that the combination of traits has never been through a safety evaluation.
GMOs in agriculture are crops with built-in pesticides or other features. The laboratory process involves inserting the gene of one organism into another. Monsanto is regarded as nearly synonymous with GMOs because their patented GE products accounted for 95% of soybeans and 80% of corn in the US in 2009. Though GMOs might be found amongst the vegetables, it is more likely to be found in processed food. A 2011 report of the Congressional Research Service states: “60%-70% of all processed U.S. foods likely contain some GE material.”