Genetically modified organisms or GMOs have been the main subject of many debates. On one hand, we have promises of greater yield, superior production in general, as well as greater resistance to the elements and diseases. On the other hand, a huge portion of the population is antsy about the whole thing, since it is tampering with the genetic makeup of the crops. The issue also envelops the effects of this on the environment and our health in the long run.
There is also a number of questions surrounding the regulation of GMOs in the food industry of the United States of America. What does the law say about this, and have there been any recent changes?
Food Safety Modernization Act
The FSMA was passed back in 2011. It basically orders companies to develop a plan surrounding safe food production and distribution and stick to this plan. The plans list things that could go wrong, and how they would deal with the situation if they do. The FDA can inspect the production of food, and if they find anything that is unsatisfactory, this food will not make it to the public. In other words, if the FDA is not 100% happy with how the GMOs are produced, they have full authority to recall the food in question.
On the other hand, there has been a lot of controversy about the issue of labels. Up until recently, companies were not required to label their food as genetically modified. The reason behind this is simple – the companies believed that the general public might not like the fact that their food has been modified. GM foods tend to go unnoticed, and here’s a scary statistic – 75% of foods in the US have GMOs somewhere in their composition.
Now, the companies have to label their food as genetically modified. However, there’s a catch. It is not clear whether this was done to protect the interests of the food industry, or to prevent destabilization of economy, or even whether it was the companies trying to keep up with the times, but the label on the packaging that is supposed to inform the consumer regarding the GM ingredients is actually a QR code. This means that, without a smartphone, you have no way of knowing what’s in your food.
Monsanto is a biotech company in the middle of 2013 controversy from which the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act” came to be. A precedent was reached where Monsanto and other biotech companies can be protected from federal courts for six months and operate without any termination of GMO production. In other words, they are above the law during this period.
What Does This Mean?
It is very likely that the food on your table is, at least partially, GM food. The FDA usually controls whether the food is safe to consume, though the companies are not transparent in disclosing whether their products contain GM ingredients. And, even if they are, companies like Monsanto can continue their production even during, say, an investigation.