Last year, we counted between 20 and 30 state legislatures considering bills that mandate labeling on genetically engineered foods or foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Still a hot-topic, many labeling laws are working their way through statehouses all over the nation – even in farm country.
AquaBounty Technologies, Inc., recently got the green light from Canada’s environmental regulatory agency to commercially produce these eggs for its genetically engineered salmon at a hatchery on Prince Edward Island.
Hot-button food issues of the day, such as the use of genetically modified organisms or the treatment of livestock, tend to pit large industries against smaller activist groups. Often, both sides will claim the science supports what they are saying. That can leave consumers, most of whom aren’t scientists, in a bit of a bind.
Many farmers say they would like to grow genetically engineered wheat to help them feed a hungry world, but it’s not what everyone’s hungry for. And now, with the mysterious appearance of Roundup Ready wheat in a farmer’s field in Oregon a few weeks ago, consumer resistance may grow even stronger.
Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified, but GMO wheat has never been approved for farming.
The Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to approve AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon for the U.S. market.
Credit Barrett & MacKay Photography Inc.
These fillets are from genetically engineered salmon.
These pig cells are part of the research being done by University of Missouri genetic engineer Kevin Wells. Wells, a national expert on the genetic engineering of animals, prefers not to have his photo taken because his work is so controversial.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media
Kevin Wells has been genetically engineering animals for 24 years.
“It’s sort of like a jigsaw puzzle,” said Wells recently as he walked through his lab at the University of Missouri - Columbia. “You take DNA apart and put it back together in different orders, different orientations.”
Whole Foods Market recently announced that by 2018, all products in its U-S and Canadian stores containing genetically modified organisms will be clearly labeled as such. The decision by the grocery chain -- which has been labeling some products as non-GMO for years now -- has pushed this strongly debated food labeling issue into the shopping aisle.
The real action, though, is heating up in state legislatures across the country. Harvest Public Media’s Abbie Fentress Swanson explains.
Just south of Hermann, Mo., Swiss Meat and Sausage Co. processes 2 million pounds of meat a year -- everything from cattle to hogs to buffalo to elk.
And everything gets a label.
“No antibiotics added, raised without added hormones, all natural, minimally processed," Glenn Brandt, the production manager for Swiss Meat, reads from a hefty roll of hickory smoked beef sausage stickers.
What this label does not indicate, however, is whether or not the sausage contains genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.