The Battle over genetically altered food continues,
even while it's use is increasing. Advocates say
genetically modified biotech food is perfectly
safe. Critics say it's food that's been fooled
around with. Whether you find biotech food appetizing
or appalling, one thing is for sure: we are eating
more and more of it.
Seventy-five percent of all processed food now
contains ingredients from genetically modified
The food industry says if the product has corn
or soybeans in it — and most processed foods
do — it's probably been genetically modified.
Even so, many shoppers have no idea they're already
eating the food of the future.
Biotech crops are created by taking genes from
one organism and inserting them into another.
That gives the plant traits that make it easier
to grow or harvest.
Anti-genetic food protesters have been taking
it to the streets — and the Internet. One
site called www.krafty.com claims we are all "taking
part in the largest genetically engineered food
experiment in history. … They're serving
up new and inadequately tested combinations of
DNA never before eaten by human beings."
The food industry is fighting back with an entirely
different point of view. The U.S. Grains Council
produced a DVD that features farmers who grow
"If it wasn't safe for me to grow and my family
to consume, I wouldn't grow it," says one farmer.
According to the council's Mark Farmer, "We would
not be using those ingredients unless the authorities
had evaluated them and determined them to be safe."
But activist groups disagree. Andrew Kimbrell
of the Center for Food Safety says, at the very
least, genetically modified food should be labeled.
"If we saw the label, we'd start asking the questions
that we need to ask. Are they safe? Are they good
for our children? Are they safe in the environment?"
The center says labeling modified foods would
make it possible to identify allergic reactions.
"When we see the label and [if someone]
should get ill, we'll be able to connect the product
to the illness and our health professionals can
begin to trace potential illnesses coming from
these foods," says Kimbrell.
The grocery industry concedes labeling might
scare consumers. "Certainly that could happen,"
says Mark Nelson of the U.S. Grains Council.
There are a lot of myths about what kinds of
food are genetically modified.
Here are the facts: The majority of corn and
soy products we eat are genetically modified.
There is also some biotech papaya.
Currently, there is no genetically modified meat,
poultry, dairy or vegetable products on the market.
A biotech salmon is being developed but hasn't
been approved yet. And the Food and Drug Administration
announced last week that genetically modified
rice intended for animals has somehow found its
way into the human food supply.