Genetically Engineered Food: Will Illinois Legislators Label it?

Genetically Engineered food news is coming to the forefront lately. This is thanks to the referendum that nearly passed in California this month. Now there are similar consumer movements in other parts of the U.S. to get genetically engineered food, also called GMO food, labeled. One of those places is right here in Illinois.

And if you are in the state of Florida, there’s a chance your legislators may be putting a bill on the table next year.

Why is GMO food such a big deal? Most people don’t realize what it means when the term ‘genetically engineered’ or ‘genetically modified’ is used to define their food. Let me explain what it is because it’s MUCH different than comparing conventional food with organic food. Unlike conventional crops that are sprayed with pesticides (and washed off by concerned moms), genetically engineered food weaves the DNA of organisms that are not normally consumed by humans into every bite you chew and swallow. Some people call it “Frankenfood.”

What Does Genetically Engineered Food Contain?

What organisms are artificially inserted into the genetically engineered crop? It could be a type of soil bacteria, or part of a weed DNA, for example. If you visit Non GMO Shopping Guide they give a really nice definition for genetically engineered food that regular folks can easily understand:

Genetic engineering is completely different from traditional breeding and carries unique risks. In traditional breeding it is possible to mate a pig with another pig to get a new variety. But is not possible to mate a pig with a potato or a mouse. Even when species that may seem to be closely related do succeed in breeding, the offspring are usually infertile. A horse, for example, can mate with a donkey, but the offspring (a mule) is sterile.

With genetic engineering, scientists can breach species barriers set up by nature. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes. The results are plants (or animals) with traits that would be virtually impossible to obtain with natural processes, such as crossbreeding or grafting.

Is that Safe for Us to Eat, Safe for our Environment?

Many of our regular Healthy Family readers are familiar with my many reports on health and safety issues. I feel the same when it comes to genetically engineered food, or GMOs, on our dinner tables. If you know me personally, you have more than likely heard me get on my soapbox about it a few times. If you are new to Healthy Family I’d like to catch you up to speed on why GMO food news is important to me. GMO food is a personal issue in our house. One of our four children developed some serious neurological (read about motor tics in children) and digestive issues (read celiac causes neurological disorders) in 2007. They only resolved after we put him on an organic gluten and corn free diet. Now he’s just fine and symptom free, but we are very careful about our food.

I have a hunch that genetically engineered food might have contributed to his stomach problems as a preschooler. But without food labeling laws and studies on the safety of genetically engineered food (GMO’s) that’s all I will ever have, a hunch.

If you are a concerned American mom like me, you are in the dark about what’s in your food. You stand at the checkout with healthy family food in your cart. But you have no idea whether or not the companies use GMOs.

Let’s Just Label GMO Food Products in the U.S.

Find out what industrialized countries label genetically engineered food (GMO food).
The United States and Canada still lack federal laws that require genetically engineered food to be labeled for consumers, unlike all these countries listed in green.

Genetically engineered foods have never been tested for long term effects. Despite this, Biotech companies and food manufacturers are not required to label GMO food in the U.S. and Canada. Genetically engineered foods (GMOs) are labeled or banned in many industrialized countries worldwide, as you can see in the above image. I think they need to be labeled here too.

Do You Want to Get More Involved? Let Your Representative Know How You Feel.

Are you are a mom like me living in the U.S. or Canada? Your children are the world’s guinea pigs for genetically engineered food safety. Scientists don’t know the long-term health effects of these products. Some believe genetically engineered food (GMO) is connected to the rise in autism rates.

Wouldn’t you like to have your food labeled if it is genetically engineered? This way you can choose whether or not you want to take part in the food safety experiment?

I do.

According to Food & Water Watch, consumers deserve to know whether or not they are buying products that contain genetically engineered (GMO) ingredients.

  • By 2011, more than 90 percent of soybeans and cotton and over 85 percent of field corn cultivated in the United States was genetically engineered.
  • Genetically engineered foods have never been tested long-term, but the FDA still doesn’t require them to be labeled.
  • Many countries including Japan, China, Australia, Russia, New Zealand and the European Union require labeling of all GE products.
  • A 2008 poll by CBS/New York Times found that 87 per cent of United States consumers wanted all genetically engineered ingredients labeled.

We don’t know what the long-term consequences of genetically engineered foods will be for human health and the environment.

What Illinois Residents can do Right Now:

The good news is that legislators are responding to consumer concerns. In the U.S., local groups are standing up for their right to decide what to eat. If you are an Illinois resident, make your voice heard. Vote YES in a quick Palos Hills, Illinois poll. It’s located at the Palos Hills Patch. Are you worried about GMOs? Vote in the Patch Poll.

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