Shoppers rely on food labels to help them to make the food choices that they feel are right for themselves and their families. Different shoppers have different priorities and focus on different parts of the label — from the nutrition fact box, to the ingredient legend, to labels indicating products are everything from "certified organic" and "grown in the USA" to vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.
But what are shoppers to do if they are looking for natural qualities in the foods they buy and use? For these consumers, purchasing products labeled as “natural” or “organic” has seemed a reliable practice. But there is increased awareness among shoppers that genetically modified (GMOs) foods are more prevalent in "natural" products than they thought. They are also discovering that products labeled as “natural” or “organic” are not necessarily GMO-free, and that many of these products are in fact genetically engineered or contain GMO ingredients. For example, products containing genetically modified soybeans are especially likely to be on the radar screen for natural and organic shoppers.
This has generated a backlash and even given rise to boycotting of brands once trusted by consumers, from Kashi cereal to Silk soymilk to Cascadian Farm’s frozen vegetables to Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, and more. For some consumers, especially shoppers looking for truly natural products, a perceived lack of transparency in these brands’ communications is fostering concern — and eroding brand trust.
In fact, concerns about GMOs in the food supply, and interest in GMO-free labeling, are now at all-time highs among US grocery shoppers. In 2011, 47% of shoppers were extremely or very concerned about the health and safety of genetically modified foods, up significantly from 42% just one year prior. These concerns are driving shopper demand for “GMO-free” labels on products: 39% of shoppers in 2011 said these labels are extremely or very important to them, up from 33% in 2010, 26% in 2006, and 20% in 2002.
Interesting factoid - shoppers are concerned in spite of the fact that no scientifically valid study has ever linked GM foods with any health issue. And in spite of the fact that virtually everything we eat is genetically modified.
I would think that these consumers would be much more concerned about the highly processed and basically unhealthy nature of "food" such as Goldfish would be of much greater concern.
It was Monsanto that first began the manufacture of polychlorbiphenyl in Anniston, Alabama—a type of process, we now know, that inevitably produces dioxin-like substances as well. And the first unwitting discovery that such materials create dangerous industrial hazards to chemical workers was made in the early 1930s when most of the workers in the Monsanto plant became sick.
We also meet at a crucial time in the history of dioxin. I am convinced that 1994 will be seen as the year in which—despite every effort of the Monsanto and its journalistic allies to confuse and misinform us—the true dimensions of the ominous threat of dioxin to human health became known. The profound significance of its diverse attack on living things has now become clear: Dioxin and dioxin-like substances represent the most perilous chemical threat to the health and biological integrity of human beings and the environment.
The history of dioxin is a sordid story—of devastating sickness inflicted unawares, on chemical workers; of callous disregard for the impact of toxic wastes on the public; of denial after denial by Monsanto; of the industry's repeated efforts to hide the facts about dioxin and, when these become known, to distort them. Our task here is to learn from this history—not only from the data generated by the rapidly growing list of scientific studies, and the crucial facts unearthed by grassroots activists—but also from the attempts of the chemical industry and its allies to distort them. We need to learn what must be done, now, not merely to diminish—but to end—the menace of dioxin and its many toxic cousins to life.
having been an environmental professional for 35 years, I too recall the history of PCB's and of dioxins. but thanks for reliving the 1950's and 1960's for us. I hardly think it was the secret you are making it out to be, just because you weren't around doesn't mean the information wasn't posted.
you are talking about 50 years ago, like they are todays risk. At the same time period drunk driving was the norm, mom's across the US turned to serving kids frozen food, you could get your feet x -rayed at the shoe store. Doctors and nurses regularly killed and injured patients with poorly prescribed pharma, and surgical procedures. , Phys Ed at highschool involved pelting the unpopular kids with balls, parents slobbered up the kids with sun tanning oil and put them out in the sun all day....yada yada. Dad hauled all the paint, solvent and dioxins to the the "dump" so neighbors could injest them in the ground water.
Monsanto risk assessments was a reflection of societal risk assessments of the day....pss poor by todays standards.
Get a bit of perspective dude....your parents and grandparents regularly dosed you kids with high level risks all the time....ala monsanto style :)
I realize that you pinheads who sell this #$%$ don't really reason like regular people, but here's one for you: When you buy natural apples with no herbicide/pesticide/fertilizer/ etc., etc., used, they will invariably come with marks from upwards of 30 different pests, molds, rusts, etc. in quantities that are roughly the same as the traces of pesticides left from spraying,
But you have not required farmers of such substandard food to demonstrate that those very low levels of non-apple materials in their applesauce do not have some long-range negative health effects. It does no good to point at historical basis - apples have always had blemishes from pests/rusts/molds/bacteria/bird spit, for example - since the rules have changed and we can detect and correlate things in the ppb range that were never tested for before. And you don't know that your Aunt Tillie, who died of "natural" causes, might not indeed have died of just such natural causes as you presume to promote.
it is always important to review the source, and limitations of "studies". I found this "study" ....done by Ecofocus world wide "These consumers see value in GMO-free choices; those who consider “GMO-free” labels to be extremely or very important are increasingly willing to pay more for products offering health and environmentally friendly advantages. In 2011:
•77% said “to me, it is usually worth paying more for healthier products,” up from 69% in 2010.
•60% agreed “I would be prepared to pay more for environmentally friendly products,” up from 55% in 2010"
Now I ask you, do you really believe 77 % of consumers pay more for healthier products....and 60 % pay more for green products ? this firm was the source of your study, and the article was written by the company CEO. What does the company do....conduct marketing studies for Sustainability products....you do the math.
Putting this into context, the importance of GMO-free labeling surpassed the importance of certified organic labeling by a five-point margin last year: Just 34% of grocery shoppers in 2011 consider “Certified Organic” labels to be extremely or very important (up two points since 2010). This is a significant call to action for food and beverage marketers targeting shoppers who are looking for natural and organic product benefits.
These consumers see value in GMO-free choices; those who consider “GMO-free” labels to be extremely or very important are increasingly willing to pay more for products offering health and environmentally friendly advantages. In 2011:
77% said “to me, it is usually worth paying more for healthier products,” up from 69% in 2010.
60% agreed “I would be prepared to pay more for environmentally friendly products,” up from 55% in 2010.
The suggested potential bio-tech advantages of better nutrition, drought tolerance, disease resistance, and other attributes have not been generally communicated to American consumers. In fact, the lack of information and transparency about the use of biotechnology has instead furthered consumer suspicions about the health and safety of genetically modified crops and foods
Despite repeated assurances from the FDA and other authorities that genetically modified foods do not pose a health risk to consumers, the food industry should expect that consumer concerns about the genetic modification of our food supply will continue to heat up. Additionally, more recent consumer interest in environmentally friendly products will add fuel to this fire: Only 14% of shoppers in 2011 rated genetically modified crops as being eco-friendly, while 32% of shoppers say genetically modified crops are eco-unfriendly. Their perception is the reality for the food industry and agribusinesses.
While Proposition 37 did not pass in this month’s California election, and a great deal of controversy remains over the legal issues and economic implications, look for shoppers to continue to drive and impact the need for transparent GMO labeling. Regardless of the legal and regulatory provisions, marketers need to recognize that we are in a new consumer age where consumers are more often the communicators than the audience. Using Twitter, Facebook, petition sites and more, they can and will drive change by rallying similar-minded consumers to the GMO labeling cause
Bellingham, WA, May 29, 2013—The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced today that an unapproved variety of genetically engineered glyphosate-resistant wheat was found in samples taken from a farm in Oregon. The variety detected was the same variety that Monsanto grew in test plots in 16 states from 1998 to 2005. There are no genetically engineered wheat varieties currently approved for sale in the United States or any other country.
Michael Firko, Acting Deputy Administrator for APHIS’ Biotechnology Regulatory Services states in the USDA’s press release: “We are taking this situation very seriously and have launched a formal investigation. Our first priority is to as quickly as possible determine the circumstances and extent of the situation and how it happened. We are collaborating with state, industry, and trading partners on this situation and are committed to providing timely information about our findings. USDA will put all necessary resources towards this investigation.”
The Non-GMO Project responded immediately by coordinating a surveillance testing strategy to help assess the extent of the contamination. The testing plan includes sampling wheat products from the national retail market as well as raw plant material directly from Oregon. The first tests are scheduled for Thursday, May 30, less than 24 hours after the USDA’s announcement. According to Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project, “Our priority right now is to assure the integrity of Non-GMO Project Verified products and to assist in the USDA’s investigation. The current situation is yet another reminder of the serious risks posed by open-air field trials of unapproved GMO crops.”
This is not the first time a U.S. crop has been contaminated by an unapproved GMO. Most notably, in August 2006 the USDA announced that Bayer’s genetically engineered LibertyLink rice was found in two popular varieties of U.S. long-grain rice. The discovery led to rejection by foreign markets and a corresponding dramatic decline in U.S. rice prices. The LibertyLink contamination eventually resulted in a $750 million legal settlement between Germany-based Bayer AG and its affiliates and U.S. rice farmers. According to the Delta Farm Press, European Union purchases of U.S. rice remain only a small fraction of what they were before the 2006 contamination incident.
The U.S. wheat market has similar vulnerability. According to the Oregon Wheat Commission, Oregon exports 90% of its wheat production. More than 60 countries now require labeling of GMOs, and international regulations on import and sale of unapproved GMO varieties are strict.
With the Non-GMO Project Verified label currently the fastest-growing claim in the natural products industry and more than 30 states now working toward mandatory GMO labeling, widespread GMO contamination in wheat would also have serious repercussions for the domestic market. Westgate adds, “We remain hopeful that this is an isolated incident, but the Non-GMO Project will do whatever it takes to protect the consumer’s right to know.”