If, like so many other well-intentioned folks out there, you made a New Year’s resolution to live healthier, you are likely paying a LOT of attention to what you consume. As someone who has been eating more conscientiously for a little over a year now, I know that I personally spend plenty of time in the aisles of my local grocery store studying nutrition labels. Everyone knows that calories are not our friends, and most folks nowadays know to look for unhealthy additives like high fructose corn syrup or artificial coloring/flavors in their packaged treats. Here’s a scary newsflash, though—some of these “health foods” that are less than healthy. It all has to do with the controversy over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and a lack of regulation on labeling foods that contain them. Suffice it to say, this is a real bummer for those of us looking to be more careful about what we put in our bodies!
Just in case you are out of the loop, it’s widely-agreed that GMOs in food are bad news. I mean, it is lousy in general to eat food without knowing what is in it … but when we are talking about the possible side effects about which I’ve read, it’s far worse. Foods that have been genetically modified increase the risk of allergic reactions and antibiotic resistance, in addition to carrying the possibility of reproductive harm, cancer, diabetes, and a host of other long-term consequences. Both the WHO and AMA have come out against GMOs, and specifically the antibiotics that these foods are treated with.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t even have the chance to make better choices about foods that have been genetically treated, given the fact that GMOs in the United States are rarely identified or labeled on food packaging. Frighteningly, many so-called “healthy” food companies actually feature GM food products. Big names include Kellogg’s Gardenburger and Kashi brands, Larabar by General Mills, Honest Tea and Odwalla by Coca-Cola … and, perhaps most scarily, Similac baby formula.
These companies used their financial clout to collectively defeat Prop 37, a California state initiative that would have mandated the labeling of GM foods. Until someone, somewhere forces food manufacturers to be accountable for transparency in packaging, it’s likely that the majority of normal folks will remain clueless about the risks. After all, we certainly can’t have consumers knowing what is actually in their food, right?