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When Linda Vachon goes shopping, her health and her family’s health are always on her mind.
“It’s important what we eat. I try to buy natural, or watch the sugars or the genetically modified foods,” she said.
According to the FDA, genetically modified organisms, or biotech foods, have had new traits or characteristics introduced to them by scientists. The changes may be aimed at things like pest prevention, nutrition or growth.
The FDA says that soybeans and corn are some of the most common genetically engineered crops, showing up in things like corn starch, corn syrup, salad dressings, bread, cereals and snacks.
“We’re always concerned about the food we eat. We want to know what’s in it,” said Laura Haight, with the New York Public Interest Research Group.
Haight said that when it comes to GMO’s, some consumers are concerned about allergens, pesticides and long term health and environmental impacts. Her group is among those pushing for a law in New York that would require companies to label food that contains GMO’s. A similar law was recently passed in Vermont.
“Most people, if you ask them on the street if they’d like to know if their food has genetically modified ingredients, they will say yes,” said Haight.
“We don’t want to put a skull and crossbones on the food that we produce that’s perfectly safe,” said Jeff Williams, Director of Public Policy for the New York Farm Bureau. “We take our business of growing foods very seriously so we would be the first ones to say we don’t want to do this.”
Williams said that adding labels to foods could increase cost and that studies show genetically engineered foods are safe.
“The FDA has gone through all those studies and has determined that biotech food is just as safe as conventionally grown food,” said Williams.
Doctor Natalia Lowry teaches at Albany Medical College. GMO’s are a topic she talks with her students about. She said there are benefits in that the technology can make food more affordable, allow for nutrition to be added and produce more food in a world where many don’t have enough.
“We need easily producible food,” she said.
But Dr. Lowry said that she thinks more research is needed over time to look at pesticide residue and long term health impacts.
“Definitely more research is needed. For some genetically engineered crops there are no long term studies,” said Dr. Lowry.
http://gmofreeny.net/ (GMO Free NY is a group pushing for a labeling law in New York.)
http://www.nyfb.org/img/bill_memos/billmemo_00lquv645b.pdf (This is a memo of opposition from the New York Farm Bureau in regards to proposed labeling legislation.)
http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm352067.htm (The FDA has posted information on its regulation of genetically modified food.)