Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber have compiled the best, most thought-provoking essays on genetically modified food by leading scientists, science writers and public health advocates in The GMO Deception (Skyhorse Publishing, 2014), offering a comprehensive look at the social, political and ethical implications of food-based biotechnology. The following excerpt comes from the Resources section of the book.
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What You Can Do about GMO Foods
The presence of risk and the absence of reward have left many consumers wary of GMOs. These consumers are not only supportive of more studies and risk assessments for GMO foods, they are also demanding to know which foods have GMO ingredients before they choose what to feed themselves and their families.
Such consumers have many options at their disposal. In the following article you will find our “Seven Steps to Take Action on Genetically Modified Foods,” a list of organizational resources and suggested readings to learn even more about the subject.
Seven Steps to Take Action on Genetically Modified Foods
1. Eat fresh and organic ingredients or processed foods that have been identified as non-GMO. Though a few items of fresh produce may be genetically modified, most GMO ingredients are found in non-organic processed food, particularly ones containing corn or soy. Look for the USDA Organic seal and buy organic. The National Organic Program Standards prohibit use of genetically engineered organisms (GMOs), defined in the rules as “excluded methods.” You can also identify products without GMO ingredients through the Center for Food Safety’s True Food Shopper’s Guide and the NON-GMO Project’s certification system. Some milk producers stipulate on the packaging that they are BGH-free. BGH (or bovine growth hormone) is a protein made with genetic engineering techniques and injected into cows to increase their milk production. Careful consumers can avoid BGH milk by buying organic or reading the labels for BGH-free milk.
2. Call the manufacturer of your favorite foods. Ask if they contain GMOs, and let them know that the answer will determine your food shopping choices.
3. Tell your member of Congress and the USDA to stop all open-air field trials of GMO crops. GMO crops have been found to contaminate non-GMO crops including organic crops. Stronger regulation is required to ensure that such contamination is investigated to determine its prevalence and to make sure it does not continue. Until then, the USDA at the very least should immediately place a moratorium on open-air field testing of genetically engineered crops.
4. Tell the FDA to require labeling of GMO foods. More than sixty countries have already enacted laws banning or mandating the labeling of GMOs. The EU has been labeling GMOs since 1998, and China and Saudi Arabia have been doing so since 2002. And in July 2011, Codex Alimentarius, the intergovernmental food commission, recognized the right of all nations to label GMO foods. The Center for Food Safety has filed a formal legal petition with the FDA demanding that the agency require the labeling of GMO foods and is spearheading a drive with the Just Label It Campaign to direct one million comments to the FDA in support of the petition. Send your comments to the FDA and President Obama in support of mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods to:
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Outreach and Information Center
5100 Paint Branch Parkway HFS-009
College Park, MD 20740-3835
Toll-Free Information Line:
5. Support your local state GMO food labeling efforts. To fill the void in the absence of a federal GMO food labeling law, groups in thirty-seven states and Washington, D.C. have begun campaigns to mandate GMO food labeling in their state. Twenty-five states have introduced legislation and bills requiring GMO food labeling (this legislation has only been approved in Connecticut and Maine), but will only come into force if other states, including a neighboring state, pass labeling requirements. The Right to Know website maintains a map of state campaigns.
6. Support only non-GMO seeds by participating in the Council for Responsible Genetics’ Safe Seed Program. The Safe Seed Program helps to connect non-GMO seed sellers, distributors, and traders to the growing market of concerned gardeners and agricultural consumers. The Safe Seed Pledge allows businesses and individuals to declare that they “do not knowingly buy, sell or trade genetically engineered seeds,” thus assuring consumers of their commitment. CRG formally recognizes commercial vendors through the Safe Seed Resource List. Sellers are encouraged to advertise the Pledge to consumers through seed catalogs and package labels. So far, more than a hundred commercial seed sellers have joined this growing movement for agricultural sustainability. You can also save seeds yourself and participate in seed swapping through local seed exchanges.
7. Join the Campaign to Stop GMO Fish. The FDA is very close to approving genetically-engineered salmon, the first genetically-engineered animal that would be allowed into the food supply. The agency has stated it will not require such salmon to be labeled as such, making it indistinguishable from non-GE salmon in the marketplace. The Center for Food Safety is leading a campaign against this approval.
There are a number of organizations working on GMO food issues from a variety of angles. All offer a wealth of educational materials, opportunities to get involved, and other resources to help consumers understand the health, ecological, and agricultural issues surrounding GMOs.
1. Agra Watch
AgraWatch is a grassroots, membership-based organization in Seattle that works for a just local and global economy. CAGJ has three programs: Food Justice Project, AGRA Watch, and Trade Justice.
Center for Food Safety (CFS) is a national non-profit public interest and environmental advocacy organization working to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture.
660 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, #302
Washington DC 20003
Consumers Union is the policy and action division of Consumer Reports. They work with activists to pass consumer protection laws in states and in Congress. They criticize corporations that do wrong by their customers, and encourage companies that are heading in the right direction.
101 Truman Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10703-1057
The Council for Responsible Genetics (CRG) serves the public interest and fosters public debate about the social, ethical, and environmental implications of genetic technologies.
5 Upland Road, Suite 3
Cambridge, MA 02140
New York Office:
30 Broad Street, 30th Fl.
New York, NY 10004
Earth Open Source is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assuring the sustainability, security, and safety of the global food system.
2nd Floor 145-157, St John Street
London EC1V 4PY, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 203 286 7156
The European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) brings together independent scientific expertise to develop public-good knowledge for the critical assessment of existing and emerging technologies.
Phone: +49 (0)30-21234056
Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO’s efforts to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. Their mandate is to improve nutrition, increase agricultural productivity, raise the standard of living in rural populations, and contribute to global economic growth.
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00153 Rome, Italy
Phone:(+39) 06 57051
Food Democracy Now! is a grassroots movement of more than 650,000 farmers and citizens dedicated to building a sustainable food system that protects the natural environment, sustains farmers, and nourishes families.
The Food Policy Research Center (FPRC) examines the impact of the political, technical, environmental, economic, and cultural forces that have an impact on what is eaten, illuminating the science behind food issues and policies from an interdisciplinary perspective. Their goal is to arm lawmakers, consumers, and industry representatives with scientifically sound information about how we grow, process, package, distribute, and prepare what we eat.
6004A Campus Delivery Code
1354 Eckles Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water, and fish we consume is safe, accessible, and sustainably produced, and educates about the importance of keeping the global commons under public control.
1616 P Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
11. GeneWatch UK
GeneWatch UK is a not-for-profit policy research and public interest group. They investigate how genetic science and technologies will impact our food, health, agriculture, environment, and society.
60 Lightwood Road Buxton Derbyshire
Phone: +44 (0)1298 24300
12. GMO Free USA
GMO Free USA’s mission is to harness education, advocacy, and bold action to foster consumer rejection of genetically modified organisms until they are proven safe.
13. GM Watch
GMWatch is an independent organization that seeks to counter the enormous corporate political power and propaganda of the biotech industry and its supporters.
NR2 1DX UK
The Institute for Responsible Technology educates policy makers and the public about genetically modified (GM) foods and crops. They investigate and report their risks and impact on health, environment, the economy, and agriculture, as well as the problems associated with current research, regulation, corporate practices, and reporting.
PO Box 469
Fairfield, IA 52556
15. Just Label It!
The Just Label It campaign was created to advocate for the labeling of GE foods.
1436 U Street NW, Suite 205
Washington, D.C. 20009
16. Non-GMO Project
The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices.
1200 Harris Avenue, Suite #305
Bellingham, WA 98225
The Oakland Institute’s mission is to increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic and environmental issues in both national and international forums.
4173 MacArthur Boulevard, Suite 225
Oakland, CA 94619
Phone: 510- 474-5251
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit, public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The OCA deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability, and other key topics.
6771 South Silver Hill Drive
Finland MN 55603
The Organic and Non-GMO Report is the only news magazine exclusively dedicated to information you need to respond to the challenges of genetically modified (GM) foods.
PO Box 436
Fairfield, IA 52556
The Right to Know GMO, A Coalition of States is a broad coalition of state leaders, nonprofit organizations, and organic companies that have a shared goal of winning mandatory labeling of genetically-engineered foods in the U.S.
The Truth in Labeling Coalition works for the right of American families to an informed choice about the food we eat.
The Union of Concerned Scientists is an alliance of more than 400,000 citizens and scientists that puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. They combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.
Two Brattle Square
Cambridge, MA 02138-3780
The Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses (FOS), provides leadership in global efforts to lower the burden of diseases from food and animals.
Avenue Appia 20
CH-1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland
There are several other excellent books on GMOS including the following:
Agriculture, Biotechnology and the Environment
Sheldon Krimsky and Roger Wrube
University of Illinois Press, 1996
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Harper Perennial, first edition, 2008
Engineering the Farm: The Social and Ethical Aspects of Agricultural Biotechnology
Edited by Mark Lappe and Britt Bailey
Island Press, 2002
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Houghton Mifflin Company, first edition, 2001
Food, Inc.: Mendel to Monsanto—The Promises and Perils of the Biotech Harvest
Simon and Schuster, 2005
Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition, and Health
University of California Press, revised and expanded edition, 2007
Intervention: Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Life on a Biotech Planet
The Hybrid Vigor Institute, 2006
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety
University of California Press, updated and expanded edition, 2010
Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds
Beacon Press, first edition, 2008
More from The GMO Deception:
Reprinted with permission from The GMO Deception: What You Need to Know about the Food, Corporations, and Government Agencies Putting Our Families and Our Environment at Risk, edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber and published by Skyhorse Publishing, 2014. Buy this book in our store: The GMO Deception.