May 03, 2014
There are many different opinions on what "natural" means, since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate the term.
This past December, California resident Julie Gengo brought a class-action lawsuit against Frito-Lay for advertising its Tostitos and Sun Chips as all natural, despite the fact that both are made with genetically modified corn. Her suit follows another, brought by the same New York City law firm, Milberg LLC, against food giant ConAgra for advertising its canola oil as natural, even though it, too, is made from a genetically modified crop.
labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods. Ingredients made from genetically modified crops, or GMOs, such as corn, soy, canola, and even cotton exist in approximately 70 percent of the processed foods on store shelves, including nearly all foods advertised as "natural". Public opinion polls conducted by Reuters, Consumers Union, ABC News, and the Washington Post all show that more than 90 percent of Americans want genetically modified foods to be labeled, something that is already required in 40 developing and developed nations. "It's even required in Russia and China, two countries not exactly known for progressive citizen action," says Gary Hirschberg, CEO of the organic dairy Stonyfield Farms and one of the founders of a new campaign to force the FDA to require labeling. "America, a country ruled by the people, has not provided this same right to know."
According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 88 percent of corn and 94 percent of soybeans grown in America are genetically modified. In addition to corn and soy, biotech companies have successfully gained patents for genetically modified sugar beets to make sugar, and alfalfa (hay) to feed to livestock. Nearly all of these wind up on your dinner plate in the form of processed foods or in the meat and dairy products made from animals fed genetically modified grain.
Hirschberg says, The FDA said, when the issue of labeling has come up before it said these crops are not materially different from non-genetically modified versions of the same crops. "But they're clearly different."
Robyn O'Brien, a former financial analyst for the food industry-turned-food activist after one of her children had a severe allergic reaction that she believes was caused by genetically modified ingredients.
But there is evidence that genetically modified crops are not as benign as biotech firms would like you to believe. The best-documented problem they pose to people is the potential for food allergies. When plants are crossbred with entirely new species, new proteins are introduced into the crop, and food allergies can develop if your immune system attacks those new proteins and treats them like foreign invaders.