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Yes, GMO foods are safe to eat: WaPo food writer

Morgan Korn
Yes, GMO foods are safe to eat: WaPo food writer

Whole Foods Market (WFM) announced on Wednesday that it would no longer carry Chobani Greek yogurt in its stores early next year. Chobani, which was founded in 2005 by Hamdi Ulukaya, is the best-selling Greek yogurt brand in the country. Whole Foods decided to drop Chobani because the cows used to make its yogurt are fed grains that contain genetically modified corn and soy, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this year Whole Foods told its suppliers that all food labels must identify GMO ingredients by 2018.

Related: Whole Foods CEO: If Syria Has GMO-Regulations So Should the U.S.

GMO stands for genetically modified organisms and the safety of these "frankenfoods" has been a hot topic with food activists, local governments and seed giants such as Monsanto (MON) and Dow Chemical (DOW). Ballot initiatives to increase GMO transparency in California and Washington both failed; opponents of GMO labeling outspent advocates in Washington by a margin of almost 3 to 1.

More than 60 countries either ban or regulate GMO foods. Forty-percent of the crops grown in the U.S. are genetically modified. Ninenty percent of canola, 88% of corn and 94% of soy crops in the U.S. have been genetically engineered. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to release voluntary guidelines on GMO labeling by the end of the year.

Many guests have come on The Daily Ticker to discuss the health implications of eating GMO foods. Renowned food writers such as Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman have questioned the science behind it and both support a federal labeling law.

But Tamar Haspel, food columnist at The Washington Post, argues in the attached video that consumers should not be overly concerned about eating GMOs, saying "the consensus" in the scientific community is that they are safe to eat. 

"There’s now a list of hundreds or even -- depending on how you count -- thousands of studies testing safety, and scientific organizations here, and around the world, have concluded that the genetically modified foods currently being grown are safe to eat," according to Haspel. The World Health Organization, National Academy of Sciences, American Medical Association and FDA "have all concluded that although there may be issues with [GMOs], eating them is not one of them," she says.

Furthermore, studies such as the frightening conclusion by French scientists in 2012, have been flawed or discredited, Haspel notes.

"The study by Gilles-Éric Séralini became the linchpin in the case that genetically modified food isn’t safe to eat because it concluded that rats fed Roundup corn got more tumors than rats fed non-GM feed," she tells us. "Many scientists, though, questioned the methodology and distrusted the conclusion. Then, last month, the journal that published the study retracted it, saying the sample sizes were too small for the data to be conclusive."

The GMO labeling controversy will continue in the new year. Labeling advocates say they are targeting Oregon next November to pass a labeling law. Haspel thinks eventually there will be a federal solution "because fighting it out state by state is just not working."

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