I’m one of those people who looks for the Non-GMO Project Verified label on food I buy. I’m grateful the Non-GMO Project exists as I want to avoid GMOs. Lately, though, I find myself wondering if there is a false sense of security with the GMO-Free rallying cry put out by advocates.
Let’s face it, GMOs cause concern for those of us who worry about the genetic maneuvering. They also do increase the use of pesticides. But, even if you are buying something that is GMO-free there is no guarantee that it is healthy or without harmful toxic chemicals in the form of synthetic pesticides and herbicides.
It’s in there
In fact, it probably is grown using synthetic chemicals, unless it is also organic.
People might be lulled into thinking, though, that GMO-free is automatically healthy.
Would it better serve the public to include organic in the message? Yes, there is already labeling for certified organic (and you should avoid buying “organic” unless it is certified, which provides oversight) but I’m worried some people might think Non-GMO is the same as organic. The same way there is the perception for some that small family farms only grow healthy, organic food.
The potato chip example
Let’s say you’re at the store and want to get some potato chips. Maybe they’re an occasional snack. You see the bags marked “Non-GMO Project Verified” and grab one of those.
Great, you think, I’m avoiding harmful GMOs and all the accompanying chemicals.
You leave believing you have made the healthiest choice for your family and you.
The bad news is, potatoes are a crop that should always be eaten organic. Anything that grows under ground (potatoes, garlic, peanuts, beets, etc.) should be organic for you – if you wanna avoid herbicides, which get into the soil and never leave.
Where is the conversation?
I think some people will say getting rid of – or labeling – GMOs is a good start, a step in the right direction. And, of course it is worthwhile.
But, unfortunately, the public is overloaded these days with messages and bits and bytes and lots of white noise. They cannot be expected to process all the information being sent their way.
So, it’s only natural they don’t always connect the dots.
Advocates should though.
In the news
The recent issue of Hawaii county going back to court to fight a judge’s ruling overturning the county’s partial ban on genetically modified crops has caught people’s attention. The ban exempts papaya crops, which are a huge industry in Hawaii.
GMO papaya crops on the island, by the way, have been cause for a great deal of contention. GMO opponents are reportedly angrily burning papaya crops in Hawaii in protest.
Even if this partial ban is upheld it might not be enough to quiet the debate on the islands, not while there are still papaya crops being grown with GMO seed.
My first thought when I heard about the legal issues happening in Hawaii was, what about all the pesticides? Why doesn’t this ban include synthetic pesticides?
So just remember
GMO-free is good but it does not mean organic or free of synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers.