What is GMO?
Genetically Modified Organisms are anything that is grown using genetic engineering technology. Genetic engineering means that these products have been modified by scientists to have greater incidence of a specific trait or outcome. Genetic engineering is more accurate and faster than traditional breeding, but many questions are raised regarding health benefits (or lack thereof), unintended consequences, ecological impact, and intellectual property law. For example, there are strains of tomatoes that are genetically modified to not ripen as quickly so that they last longer for consumers.
The FDA reports that there are currently about 45 genetically modified plant varieties in the marketplace. For more information and interesting statistics please see the Biotechnology section of the USDA Economic Research Service.
A Good Day for Connecticut
Consumers are becoming more informed regarding what GMOs are, and want to have this information available to them while grocery shopping. Connecticut just became the first state to pass GMO labeling laws (with a unanimous vote in the Senate and 134-3 vote in the House in favor!). The language in this bill will allow consumers in CT to have greater transparency and make informed decisions. It does however require four states (at least one of which bordering, ahem) to pass similar legislation.
It was written this way so that local small farms and businesses were shielded from being at a competitive disadvantage. I hope that the passing of this bill helps drive momentum for consumer advocacy across the country. This is soundly written legislation that I am proud to say was driven by the consumer pushing for their own beliefs of full disclosure.
Take Home Message
We'll have to explore the pros and cons of GMOs in another blog post because there's so much more that can be said! When I was reading some of my old blogs to see if I have discussed GMOs in the past, I came across a blog I had written four years ago now, "What does organic really mean?". It's funny, I ended that blog four years ago with the same sentiment I planned to write tonight:
The ultimate goal in this country surrounding food and nutrition isn't necessarily that all consumers make the same food decisions (organic vs. non-organic, fast food vs. slow food) or even that they always make healthy decisions, but rather that they make informed decisions.