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5 Reasons GMO Labeling Doesn't Matter

I don't want to eat genetically modified (GM) food but I do.

You probably do, too.

According to recent surveys, about 90% of the Americans they asked would like GMO food to bear labels declaring that fact. Presumably, if the label says the product is GM then people won't buy it.

Yeah, right.

Call me cynical—and believe me, you won't be the first—but I think consumers will continue to buy food products with GM ingredients. Yes, even if it's labeled.

Besides, the major GM foods are already labeled, just not the way you think...

Foods that forms the base of an awful lot of what we eat, has had their genes messed with.


Chart data from USDA and Wikipedia.

There's your five reasons: beet sugar, corn, soy, canola, or papaya from Hawaii

If you are buying one of those and it's not labeled, you can assume it is GMO. That's your labeling.

You may occasionally be wrong, but not often.

I say that with such assurance because, in a market where almost all of a product is GM which customers claim to want to avoid, you would put NOT GMO on the front of the package in big letters. I would, wouldn't you?

Sugar is a bit more complicated.

  • Somewhere around half the sugar produced in the US is cane, half beet. We import more, unspecified as to type. The sugar industry doesn't want us to think there are any differences so they hide what happens to which type. Maybe someone will come explain what their web site does not.
  • Cane sugar is not GM; they tried and failed. It is, however, likely to be processed with bone char, rendering it unacceptable to people avoiding animal products. Since cane sugar is seen as more "real" by some people, it is usually labeled as "cane sugar" or "evaporated cane juice" or something similar.
  • Beet sugar is what is probably in tht bag of white sugar and it is pretty much all GM. What I have found seems to point to it being vegan, though. (The vegans reading this just recoiled in disgusted confusion. GM or bones? Bad options.)
  • As for the other sugars, it seems reasonable to assume that all of the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made from GMO corn. Highly industrial product for an industrial use.

A small portion of the squash market (13%) is also GM, so get your squash at the farmer's market if you can. GM Potatoes and tomatoes have both been pulled off the market after failing to gain consumer trust.

All of this aside, labeling GMO products is probably a good idea. For now, though, you should assume that these 5 crops, which make up most of the GM food market in the US have had their bits twiddled.

For more information about genetically modified food, check out these groups:

These groups are surprisingly hard to find, so please let me know of your favorites and I'll add them to the list.

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