Our diets have seen a lot of changes in the last one hundred years, some good, some not-so, but none as unsettling as the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into our food supply in the mid-1990s. That’s when geneticists figured out how to manipulate DNA and insert characteristics from one species into another.
It sounds strange, and it is. Suddenly there were all kinds of new foods disguised as old standbys as companies developed crops that could resist pesticides or literally make their own, and gave foods new traits like the ability to grow bigger, ripen faster or slower, and travel better. As revolutions go, this one was a success: GMOs ingredients are found in about 70% of the foods in the U.S. today.
Many people, myself included, aren’t sure this is such a good idea. There’s a lot of evidence that GMO foods aren’t healthy for us to eat, to say the least. Animals fed GMO foods develop all kinds of serious problems, which makes me suspect there’s a reason there haven’t been any human studies. I think GMO proponents know we wouldn’t like what we’d find. Yet despite all that is known, 75% of Americans aren’t even aware that they’ve consumed a GMO, let alone are most likely eating them every day.
That’s a problem that might seem too big to overcome. With GMOs so entrenched in our diets and so few people aware of their issues, you may think there’s little we can do to reverse course and re-establish a safer, more sustainable food system that feeds us the way nature intended. But that’s not the case at all. The fact is we’re a lot closer than you’d think.
The Institute for Responsible Technology has launched the Campaign for Healthier Eating in America, which aims to eliminate GMOs from our food supply. The idea is to get to a “tipping point,” in which a large enough number of consumers start avoiding GMO ingredients to make their use a liability for food companies. Organizers believe only 5% of consumers, or some 15 million shoppers, need to refuse GMO foods to convince food companies they’re a bad idea. That should be easy given that 53% of Americans say they’d do just that if GMO foods were labeled. Manufacturers also have nothing to gain by using them—GMO foods aren’t fresher, tastier, or healthier. Most make life easier for growers, not sellers, which means food companies won’t need a whole lot of persuasion.
They’ll only need a little, and we can all provide it by joining the Campaign and arming ourselves with the Non-GMO Shopping Guide. Download the guide and use it when you shop to make a difference. You’ll not only be eating a whole lot safer and healthier, you’ll be pushing the country to the tipping point where everyone else can too.
Jeffrey Hollender is the co-author of the recently published book The Responsibility Revolution. The Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Seventh Generation, Hollender also shares his insights at The Inspired Protagonist, a leading blog on corporate responsibility.
by DeusxFloria via Flickr/creative commons
By Jeffrey Hollender, Seventh Generation