Paranoid?

I had always been surprised how paranoid the Europeans were about genetically modified foods.

In America, we certainly didn't seem to have the problem.

Was it really their paranoia or was it my ignorance caused by the fact that here the U.S., genetically modified foods were not being labeled as such?

I'll be damned — according to a radio program I just heard, I was simply being ignorant! There is currently no regulation to be enforced by the FDA or any other regulatory body for such labeling!

Some seem to have started a campaign to change this. See for example "The Campaign."

It is amazing that throughout this time, I thought we had the regulation but that in their wisdom, the food retailers were staying away from genetically modified foods—hence the absence of any labeled ones.

So next time you pick up those huge holiday grapes (just like what I did tonight at the local store), you may become as paranoid as I and ask youself whether it might need to have been labeled!

Here's a quote from "The Campaign":

There were only five countries that grew about 98 percent of the $44 billion of commercial genetically engineered crops in 2003-2004. Those five countries were: the United States ($27.5 billion), Argentina ($8.9 billion), China ($3.9 billion), Canada ($2.0 billion) and Brazil ($1.6 billion).

. . . [All] of the European Union nations, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries require the mandatory labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

. . . [C]itizens in the United States and Canada are engaged in the largest feeding experiment in human history and most people are not even aware of the fact.

Wonderful!

Of course, other perspectives exist but I still would like to avoid eating new, fancy proteins of which my ancestors did not habitually partake, and did so over multiple generations, provably without any harm to themselves — but perhaps that is just a luxury and we should worry about other more important luxuries such as the size of our in-house video display system.

Of course, I know my science and to a certain extent it depends on how genetic modification occurs. If it occurs through insertion of DNA from species belonging to organisms other than the target organism, I would be very cautious. If the practice involves mixing of the same species that is a different matter and perhaps (under certain circumstances) less worrisome.

Comments:

Hi Masood - I agree; we have been practising genetic modification for centuries by selectively breeding wheat, dogs, people and other things. But even that process is not without its pitfalls. There's one view that the increasing prevalence of gluten intolerance is linked to the extent to which 'modern' wheat differs from its ancestral strains. Some dog breeds are on the borderline of viability (think of some of those neurotic miniatures)... and so on.
Gene insertion worries me.

Posted by Robin Wilton on December 18, 2005 at 08:13 PM PST #

Indeed - What suprises me (and this has come up in polls conducted by Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology) is that most Americans trust that FDA protects them against potential dangers. However, FDA regulates only what it is told to regulate. If it has not been told to regulate something, it will do nothing on its own. On the other hand FDA has a great brand recognition since it appears everywhere as the guarantor. Hence, the extra, unreasonable trust that consumers place on it.

Posted by guest on December 19, 2005 at 12:22 AM PST #

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