They're advertised as a way to feed more people while using less pesticides. However, genetically modified foods or GMOs aren't exactly something that everyone wants on their plate.
Until recently, the United States was the only country in the world that wasn't required to label foods which were genetically altered. Then, at the end of 2012, California passed an initiative for GMO labeling that has paved the way for nationwide grocers like Whole Foods to guarantee labeling within the next few years.
Although not all of the risks of GMOs are known, some are drawing their own conclusions of potential hazards that these foods contain.
You may recognize Abby Reed as one of the anchors of KCBD NewsChannel 11's Daybreak Show. However, Reed is more than just a news personality, she's a first-time mom. And as a first-time mom, she analyzes everything that goes into her baby's mouth.
"Everything I'd been reading about baby food and processed food really bothered me. I didn't know what this stuff was that was in baby food. There are words I can't pronounce," said Reed. "If I don't know what they are why would I give that to my baby to eat?"
Reed's solution is to make her own baby food.
"Hearing my doctor say homemade baby food is such a good way to go, I did it. And then I thought, 'This is really just a no-brainer.'"
As her daughter Harper prepares to eat solid foods in the next few months, Reed says she just wants to be able to make informed decisions about the food she feeds her family.
"That way if she does get sick or have an allergy or some kind of illness from this food, at least I'll know exactly what she ate."
GMOs were introduced in 1996 and opponents of genetically altered foods say GMOs are the reason why more people are prone to allergies these days.
Jamie Hocker, Covenant Hospital Outpatient Nutritionist agrees, "Genetically modified foods can sometimes cause allergies, specifically with the soy, so that's something to be aware of if you're having a lot of allergies."
And often times, Brazil nuts are being planted with soybean genes. This has prompted those who are normally allergic to soybeans to also be allergic to brazil nuts, and makes it difficult for one to get a handle the true root of their allergy.
Despite opposition to GMOs in some circles, there is a lot of support for the use of GMOs in the farming community. According to Vickie Sutton, Law Professor and Director of the Center for Biodefense, Law and Public Policy at Texas Tech, the technology of genetic modification actually promotes pesticide resistance while assisting the growth of crops in drought.
"By inserting a gene by another organism into a plant, for example," said Sutton, "you can get some of those traits that will make the food more attractive, grow faster and feed more people."
GMOs are reportedly in 80% of packaged products. The documentary, Genetic Roulette, explains why the technique has raised some consumers' eyebrows:
"The majority of genetically modified crops are engineered to make it easier to kill weeds. For example, Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops, which comprise most of today's GMOs can survive applications of Monsanto's best selling weed killer Roundup. When it's treated with Roundup, it can have a reduction in nutrients; the animals that eat the nutrients in those plants become nutrient-deficient and weak and sick, then we eat the animals and the plants that are nutrient-deficient."
Although GMO labeling isn't mandatory in Texas, United Supermarkets says they are on board with the labeling. Eddie Owens, VP of Marketing for the grocery chain says they are currently ironing out the details with their manufacturers.
"(GMO labeling is) a good thing for us because we're able to support the folks right here at home," said Owens. "It's good for our consumers because they feel better knowing where the products they're consuming are coming from."
According to the US government, GMOs are safe to eat. Congressman Randy Neugebauer says he's opposed to GMO labeling. In a statement sent through email, Neugebauer said, "Requiring labeling just adds cost for food producers without giving consumers any additional benefits."
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