Saw a great article today – taken from an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered – that examined people’s perceptions of food products that were labeled either USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified. It made some very good points for both sides.
The products certified by the Non-GMO Project, which you may have read about in earlier posts, has proliferated over the past few years. It’s achieved around $16 billion in annual sales. Products that carry this label have been tested for the presence of genetically modified organisms and consumers can feel confident in buying them about this.
Organic food products labeled as USDA Organic, on the other hand, are NOT tested for the presence of GMOs. In fact, few consumers know that there are actually 3 “tiers” of this certification and several of them allow the presence of certain percentages of genetically engineered ingredients.
Amazingly, this last fact was omitted in the arguments for and against organic versus non-GMO certified in this article. And it’s an important point.
Polls continue to show that consumers want to know what’s in the food they purchase. Any wonder at the upset about the President’s recent signing of the D.A.R.K. Act that supposedly now mandates labeling of foods containing GMOs? The new law will NOT really let consumers know, at least easily or simply, what they’re getting. It also denies other states the right to pass more efficient and useful mandatory labeling laws (such as the one Vermont had). Now consumers will have to hunt and take additional steps to discover the truth – and it’s well-known that if folks have to hunt for information, they likely won’t.
BUT in today’s world, knowledge is key – and knowledge about what’s in our food is more crucial than ever. If you know that genetically engineered ingredients were in the food you were considering purchasing, would you buy it? Food manufacturers are scared that we won’t, which is why the Grocery Manufacturers Association has repeatedly thrown millions of dollars towards fighting any and all possible legislation that might make GMO labeling mandatory, be it on a state or national level.
So, the question really is: do yo know enough about what’s in your food to make an educated choice beyond merely reading the labels? If you don’t, it’s time to do your homework before you head to the store. No longer can we settle for making decisions based on cost versus quality/healthy food. There has to be a better way. And it’s up to us to discover what’s REALLY in our food.