This is a networking and resource page for anyone in support of, or active in, creating awareness for the Ohio GMO Labeling Campaign. This page is for people who are looking for ways to participate in this cause, and be proactive in creating a Ohio GMO Labeling Initiative for the 2012 election. The goal of this campaign is to introduce an initiative on the Nov. 2012 ballot which would require all GM foods or ingredients to be labeled on the food package, ingredients list, barcode, or directly on the store shelf.
What is a GMO?
A GMO is a Genetically Modified Organism. It is a plant or an animal in which the genetic material has been unnaturally altered, often by using the DNA molecules of other plants, animals, or bacteria, which are then combined to create a new set of genes.
In food crops, plants are engineered to carry a herbicide-tolerant gene, which was developed so farmers could spray their fields to eliminate weeds without damaging the crops. These plants can be sprayed with twice the amount of herbicides than other conventional crops, and they will not die.
One of the most common non-plant organisms inserted into plants is the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt., which is used as a pesticide. When bugs eat the plant containing Bt., their stomachs split open and they die.
Crop plants are also engineered to be cold or drought tolerant. An example of this is the transgenic tomato, which contains the DNA of the cold tolerant winter flounder fish.
Food animals are also being biologically engineered and then cloned to grow quickly and require less feed.
Dairy cows are injected with a bio-engineered synthetic hormone known as rBGH, which greatly increases the production of the cow's milk, allowing the farmer to obtain from each cow up to 55 gallons of milk every day instead of the average 5 to 15 gallons a day.
About 80% of the food supplied at a typical grocery store in the United States contains genetically modified ingredients. This usually is any non-organic product that contains the direct ingredient or derivative of soy, corn, canola, sugar beets, rice, dairy, aspartame, and non-organic meat. According to the USDA, the majority of commercially farmed animals are fed genetically modified feed.
The FDA does not conduct a comprehensive scientific review of genetically modified products. Instead, the FDA considers the safety of the product based on the biotech company’s own evaluation of the product. The FDA only encourages developers to consult with the agency to ensure that any issues within the product are resolved prior to marketing.
The FDA simply "recommends" that the developer take the appropriate steps to inform the FDA about bio-engineered foods intended to be sold for commercial use. Companies can do this by just submitting to the FDA their own summary of the safety and nutritional assessment that has been conducted by the developer of the product. All of the testing can then be submitted in electronic format. No other third party testing is required for a GM product.
You can see the FDA’s GMO regulation guidelines at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/Biotechnology/ucm096126.htm
Independent Testing on Animals Fed GMOs
Many scientists didn’t feel comfortable about the FDA’s “honor system” approach to the testing of GMOs, so many universities and other private organizations conducted their own testing on animals that were fed GMOs. Here are some of the results:
Currently, there are 331 million acres of genetically modified plants grown throughout the world. Cross-pollination and seed dispersal are two major concerns that have been expressed by farmers and environmentalists because genetically modified crops can transfer their transgenic traits to other conventional varieties and to their wild relatives. What impact could this have to our ecology?
The recent disappearance of the once populous Monarch butterfly in
What about American Farmers? Over 90 lawsuits have been filed in the
Ohio is the 2nd most agriculturally diverse state in the nation with
over 55,000 farms. Michigan is the national leader in the production of tart
cherries. We rank 3rd in the nation for our apple and asparagus and 2nd nationally
for beans, carrots, celery, and plums. Agriculture is Michigan's second largest industry, which generates $63.7 billion for the state and employs approximately one million residents.
It is easy to say that Michigan residents are very proud of their farmers markets, cider mills and U- Pick berry farms!
In 2001, GM corn and soy was introduced into Michigan agriculture. By 2004, 33% of our corn crops were GM and 75% of our soy was GM. In 2008, farmers began earnestly planting GM sugar beets.
Are we putting our small Ohio family farms at risk for contamination?
Bans and Regulations Worldwide
To reduce the risk of GMO contamination, several countries worldwide have placed bans against growing GM crops, making it compulsory for farmers to “respect agricultural structures, local ecosystems and non-GMO commercial and production industries.''
Some of these countries include
Several other countries in the world also require mandatory labeling on food products that are or contain GM ingredients. These countries are
Shouldn't we adopt legislation as well?
Currently, there is no law in the United States that requires any food containing genetically modified ingredients to be labeled. Because there has not been enough testing on GMOs, and because we believe it is our right as American citizens to know if we are eating GMOs, we must collect at least 250,000 signatures from registered Michigan voters to get the GMO Labeling initiative on the November 2012 ballot.
We have a right to know, so that we have the knowledge to choose!