Thursday, April 14, 2005

Wouldn't it be nice?

In the alert "Pumping Sunshine" I told you about an e-mail I received from a reader named Xielolixii who wondered if there was a way to determine if soy was genetically modified (GM). Yep, that WOULD be nice. But as I told Xielolixii, different forms of soy show up as ingredients in thousands of products, and it's estimated that 20 percent or more of the U.S. soy crop is genetically engineered to survive regular spraying with a powerful chemical used to kill weeds. As it turns out, that 20 percent estimate may be way off. In a recent Associated Press (AP) article, Stephanie Childs - a spokesperson for the Grocery Manufacturers of America - stated that more than 80 percent of the U.S. soy crop has some sort of GM component. But genetic modification isn't exclusive to soy. Ms. Childs adds that about 40 percent of U.S. corn is GM, and about 75 percent of all processed foods contain GM ingredients. How do GM foods affect humans? That question will be impossible to answer until we get the results of the long-range study that's now in progress. Unfortunately that "study" doesn't involve formal research. You, your family, me, our neighbors; we're all subjects in a trial that - fingers crossed! - hopefully won't produce dire side effects. Many Americans have no idea what's going on with GM crops. According to poll results that accompanied the AP piece, nearly 30 percent said they believed all GM crops are tested for human safety (they're not). Almost one quarter said they believed all GM crops are tested for environmental safety (they're not). And more than one quarter said they believed that food manufacturers are required to indicate GM content on packaging (they're not). The percentages of people who answered "unsure" in the three categories above: 59 percent, 63 percent and 40 percent, respectively. "Unsure" pretty much sums up where we are with GM foods these days. With no sureness in sight.

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