You enter the grocery store and glance at your list: snack bars, frozen dinners, and cookies appear. More than likely, these items contain genetically modified ingredients.
GMO Awareness states on their website that Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, are plants whose genes are modified to a form that does not occur naturally. For example, crops can be genetically modified for weather resistance, pest resistance, to grow a certain color, and to develop a particular flavor. Genetically modified plants contain the DNA from another plant. Genetically engineered plants are hybridized by cross pollination and people choosing two plants to breed together due to specific favorable traits they express.
On June 1, 2013 in Connecticut, the announcement was made that GMO foods are going to be required to be labeled. This will take effect once four states pass a similar bill; one state must border Connecticut. Also, any number of northeastern states must approve a similar bill with a combined population of at least 20 million people. The law will take effect by October 1, 2013 as long as the two requirements are met.
There are already 25 states in the United States that have a GMO labeling law in progress or passed. For example, Alaska has a law requiring genetically engineered fish to be labeled. Indiana is protected against genetically engineered seafood now that Marsh Supermarkets no longer sells it upon FDA’s approval. Minnesota has two bills in consideration, one being the genetic engineered label law on a federal level as opposed to state level. Pennsylvania is deciding on labeling all genetically engineered foods or those foods made with genetically modified organisms.
California had a similar proposition as Connecticut in 2012 called Proposition 37 for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food. It required that all raw and processed foods be labeled and prohibited “natural” labels. The New York Times explains in an article that if this proposition had passed, it would have been the first GMO labeling law to pass in the United States. It was a close vote; out of 4.3 million voters, 46.9% voted “yes” and 53.1% voted “no”. This proposition fueled the debate on whether or not GMO’s should be labeled and other states soon began to consider such a law.
Know Your Terms
Under the Connecticut State legislation for this amendment, the following significant terms have been defined:
Label: written, printed, or graphic images on any container or packaging and additional information to be visible on the outside container or packaging in order to be complied with.
Natural food: food not treated with preservatives, antibiotics, synthetic additives, artificial flavoring or coloring, not processed in any manner to be made less nutritious, and not genetically engineered. The FDA has not established an official definition for “natural food” as of yet, but for the terms of this legislation, this is how natural food will be understood. Flavors and colors are an exception, however.
Organically grown: food produced through organic farming methods with ecological soil management and mechanical/biological control of insects, weeds, pathogens, and other pests. These rely on crop rotation, crop residues, composed animal manures, legumes, green manures, composted organic waste or mineral-bearing rocks. The National Organic Program states that “organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”
Raw agricultural commodity: food in its raw and natural state.
Safe: concerns the health of humans and animals.
Genetic engineering: the genetic material has been changed via in vitro nucleic acid techniques or fusion cells.
In vitro nucleic acid techniques: including recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid techniques that use vector systems and techniques with the direct introduction into organisms.
Organism: any living being that can replicate, reproduce, or transfer genetic material in any way.
Processed food: food intended for human consumption besides raw agricultural commodities and any food processed through canning, smoking, pressing, cooking, freezing, dehydration, fermentation, or milling.
FDA on the Watch
Genetically engineered food products are regulated by the FDA and are processed for their safety just as non-GMO foods are. Since GMO food must meet the same safety requirements as non-GMOs, they are approved as safe to consume. The food products are not shipped to go on the market unless it passes the consultation process by the FDA. Approximately 80% of processed foods are genetically engineered. Corn, canola, soybeans, and cotton are the plants that are the most genetically engineered, corn being the top genetically engineered crop.
What Does Watson Do?
Watson has many ingredients available for formulations and products that are labeled with a non-GMO label. We have an IP (identity) certification that allows access to information regarding the origin of the ingredients or seed they came from. These ingredients are more expensive than their genetically modified forms, but we will be using them in order to meet demands of our customers. Overall, we can customize orders to fit the customer’s desire to use GMO or non-GMO ingredients.