When you buy organic eggs, you expect to get eggs from
chickens that haven't been subjected to antibiotics, hormones or pesticides; but
you might unknowingly be getting genetically modified poultry
Albert Straus, decided to test the feed that he gives his 1,600 cows last
year and was alarmed to find that nearly 6% of the organic corn feed he received
from suppliers was "contaminated" by genetically modified (GM) organisms.
Organic food is, by definition, supposed to be free of genetically modified
material, and organic crops are required to be isolated from other crops; but as
GM crops become more prevalent, there is little that an organic farmer can do to
prevent a speck of GM pollen or a stray GM seed from being blown by the wind
onto his land or farm equipment and, eventually, into his products. In 2006, GM
crops accounted for 61% of all the corn planted in the US and 89% of all the
Straus and five other natural food producers, including industry leader Whole Foods
announced last week that they would seek a new certification for their products,
"non-GMO verified," in the hopes that it will become a voluntary industry
standard for GM-free goods.
A non-profit group called the Non-GMO Project runs the program, and the
testing is conducted by an outside lab called Genetic ID
. In a few
weeks, Straus expects to become the first food manufacturer in the country to
carry the label in addition to his "organic" one. With Whole Foods in the ring,
the rest of the industry will soon be under competitive pressure to
Department of Agriculture
, unlike agencies in Europe and Japan, do not
require GM foods to be labelled. While scientists have not identified any
specific health risks from eating GM foods, anti-GM activists say there is not
enough research yet into their long-term risks or impact on biodiversity.
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