GMOs and Oryana's Commitment to Organics
What are genetically engineered foods?
Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM) is the laboratory process of artificially manipulating genes of one species and inserting them into the DNA of a different species. The result is called a genetically modified organism (GMO). GMOs can be engineered with genes from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Genetic engineering is an imprecise technique that can lead to unpredictable results because under current technology, it’s impossible to exactly guide the insertion of a gene from one species into a totally different species. Genetic engineering has no resemblance to traditional breeding techniques. Traditional breeding techniques operate within established natural boundaries that allow reproduction to take place only between closely related forms of life.
Genetic engineering, on the other hand, crosses genes between unrelated species that would never cross-breed in nature. For example, traditional breeders have never been capable of crossing fish genes with strawberries. But genetically engineered “fishberries” are already in the field.
In the US, our food supply is rapidly becoming saturated with GMOs. Currently, up to 96% of corn is genetically engineered as is 95% of soybeans. It has been estimated that over 80% of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.
The Effects of GMOs on our Health
In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine called for a moratorium on GMOs in food, citing a number of animal studies that show there is, “more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects” and that “GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.”
A 2012 study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, found that rats fed a type of genetically engineered corn that is prevalent in the US food supply for two years developed massive mammary tumors, kidney and liver damage, and other serious health problems.
Oryana believes that there is enough evidence to take precautionary action to get GMOS out of our food to protect human and environmental health.
The Effects of GMOs on our Environment
Over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. This means that a field can now be sprayed with chemicals and everything will die except for the resistant crop. This can result in farm lands devoid of wildlife and will spell disaster for millions of already declining birds, bees and plants.
The most comprehensive independent research done using USDA data demonstrates that since the introduction of GM crops in the United States, more than 120 million pounds of additional pesticides were used.
Monsanto, the world’s leading producer of GMOs, claims that GMOs are absolutely needed because they will save the world from environmental catastrophe and human hunger. This argument, however, was found to be false. Funded by the World Bank and United Nations, a team of 900 scientists found that GMO crops are actually not effective at fighting world hunger. In fact, the massive team found that Monsanto’s seeds, which have lead to thousands of farmer suicides due to excessive costs and failure to yield crops, were outperformed by traditional “agro-ecological” farming practices.
What You Can Do
- Obtain a copy of the Non-GMO Shopper’s Guide compiled by the Center for Food Safety.
- Buy products that are certified organic. All ingredients in certified organic products are not allowed to contain GMOs.
- Unless they are certified organic, avoid the Big Four ingredients that are the most commonly genetically engineered: corn, soy, canola and cotton.
- Write your elected government representatives and let them know that you want GMOs out of our food. Request that food that is genetically engineered be labeled. We have a right to know.
- Get to know local farmers who are going the extra mile to produce food sustainably without the use of GMOs. Set your priorities and invest in these local farmers.
- Enroll your business in the Non-GMO Project. For more information check out www.nongmoproject.org
What Oryana is Doing
At Oryana, we are strongly opposed to the proliferation of genetically modified foods and believe that the use of GMOs contradicts our mission of providing high quality food grown in ecologically sound ways at fair value to member-owners and the community.
- Our purchasing guidelines emphasize food grown organically. We also believe that connecting with local farmers who are striving to grow food sustainably is critically important to creating a resilient, healthy local food economy.
- We are a member of National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), which works with many organizations on behalf of all food co-ops to fight the deregulation of GMOs at the regulatory and legal level.
- We support such efforts as Just Label It, a national campaign that is asking the FDA to institute labeling of GMOs. There is currently no regulated labeling protocol for products containing GMOs. This is in spite of the fact that the majority of Americans say they would not eat GMOs if labeled, but unlike most other industrialized countries, the US does not require labeling.
- We support the Non GMO Project, a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products. We have available to members and customers the non-gmo shopping guide created by the Non GMO Project. Their website also lists non-gmo verified restaurants and offers an iphone app shopping guide.
- We also support the "Yes on 522" campaign of Washington's ballot initiative that will require food companies to label products that are made using GMO ingredients.
The Non-GMO Project
The Non-GMO Project has named October as Non-GMO Month. NCGA, along with other project sponsors UNFI, PCC, Whole Foods, Jimbo's and INFRA, signed on to a letter encouraging vendors to enroll in the Non-GMO project. Additionally, the Non-GMO Project is encouraging retail participation in helping raise consumer awareness in October. Please visit www.nongmoproject.org for more information. Oryana is registered with this organization.