This week is GMO Awareness Week, and I've been surprised by a recent group of postings from vegan bloggers supporting the development and use of genetically modified organisms. The postings seem to stem from a recent talk by Kevin Folta, Assistant Professor of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Florida, who spoke in support of GMOs at a recent Vegan Chicago event. An audio recording of the entire talk is available here.
While I do believe there are many unfounded fears of "frankenfoods" (a term embraced by Folta because Frankenstein's monster was a victim of unwarranted fears), there are also serious concerns and unknown risks. From an animal rights standpoint, GMOs are a nightmare because of the animals being used directly as GMOs and also because of the testing involved to try to prove that GMOs are safe.
As animal activists, maybe we should be grateful that Monsanto has used its influence to push their GMOs through FDA approval without rigorous toxicity testing on animals? I'm not. Not because I want these products to be tested, but because I believe there are better ways to feed the world.
What you can do:
If you believe that GMOs should be labeled, Food Democracy Now is asking the public to contact President Obama and demand that he keep his campaign promise to require labeling of genetically modified products. You can use this webform to contact the White House, or if you're in a hurry, you can just sign FDN's online petition.
Also, if you'd like to avoid GMOs, look for USDA certified organic foods, which are not allowed to contain GMOs. Also, avoid the eight genetically modified food crops that are now on the U.S. market: soy, corn, cottonseed (oil), canola (oil), sugar from sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, some varieties of zucchini, and crookneck squash. For more tips on avoiding GMOs, Mercola.com offers a free pdf of their Non-GMO Shopping Guide.
Graeme Robertson / Getty Images