Label the GMOs
I’m writing at the encouragement of my Nutrition class at CCV. It’s time to label GMOs! This is important to understanding more about what we eat.
My first education about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) happened in 1998 during my high school AP biology class. Naturally, I’d heard of GMOs before in the news, or parodied as something pieced together like Frankenstein’s monster. My teacher, Mr. Lynch, lectured about recombinant DNA and molecular changes to our food which were undetectable to the human eye or — more importantly — to the stomach. A classmate obligingly asked the question Mr. Lynch had been hoping to hear: How can we tell the difference? You can’t, Mr. Lynch said. And years later I believe that’s still true for consumers.
Since that lecture, paying attention to labels has been a casual hobby of mine. In the early 2000s, I experienced the transition from seeing many “organic” labels to only a smattering of “certified organic” labels in the grocery store. A couple of years after that I lived through a labeling controversy as the Kona coffee farm I worked on in Hawaii fought to protect the “Kona” name from cheap blend imitations. This encounter in particular taught me that there’s always more to the story than the words on the label.
As the Vermont legislature considers a bill calling for GMO labeling I’m thinking of Mr. Lynch and his favorite GMO food, the freeze-resistant tomato. If it looks and tastes like a delicious tomato, but has some genes of an arctic flounder, is it still a tomato? Of course! And I’ll eat it, but it’s only fair to label it what it really is: something else.
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