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Consumption: Ingestion Transparency -- Week 1 without GMOs
Submitted by Patrick Groneman on Wed, 4/4/2012, 11:40am
By Patrick Groneman
(follow Patrick on Twitter)
I’m going to tackle two issues in my Responsible Consumption practice this month (which, in case you didn’t know is one of Five practices of Membership).
The first is mindful eating. Cultivating a level of intentionality behind buying, preparing and consuming foodstuffs. Trying not to eat for emotional comfort, out of boredom, restlessness or avoidance. I’ve been working on this for the past few years, but the karmic roots are deep, and the practice increasingly more subtle.
The second, which relies on the first, is giving up eating Genetically Modified Organisms (or GMOs), something that should be simple, but is actually pretty difficult here in the US.
Since the mid-90‘s agricultural businesses have been promoting the use of GM crops, and since then GM soy, corn and cotton have all but replaced their non-GM ancestors.
The widespread use of GM crops has raised concerns about their effects on personal and ecological health.
Some reports claim that GMOs are unsafe for ingestion, and others cite the negative ecological ramifications of industrial herbicide usage that rely on GM technology.
Given that the fate of GM’s effectiveness and safety are still up for debate, many countries have favored a mandatory labeling of all foods that contain GMO if not banned them outright.
But here in the US, no such laws exist requiring labeling, and so if one were averse to consuming GM Foods, your consumer right to know what you are ingesting, is severely lacking.
A recent poll suggests that as high as 91% of Americans favor mandatory GMO labeling, but the Food and Drug Administration, the governing body in charge of food labeling, maintains a laissez-faire stance on the issue:
"Companies are welcome to label their products on a voluntary basis as long as it's truthful and not misleading, and it doesn't imply that it's somehow better than the conventional counterpart," --Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman.
What is most irksome, is the apparent link between the FDA and the corporations who produce GM foods, who would benefit most from GMOs remaining anonymous. The FDA’s current deputy commissioner, Michael Taylor, was formerly employed by Monsanto, a company that is known for making and selling Herbicide resistant GM crop seeds.
There is a third party verification organization called the Non-GMO project, which has begun the task of verifying GMO-free foods in American groceries, but their efforts aren’t nearly as far reaching as a comprehensive FDA labeling regulation would be.
So this month, my effort is simply to do the homework, to do my best to avoid GM foods and see how it goes. What extra planning is needed? What foods should I avoid?
So far, the clearest challenge involves eating on the run. It’s easy enough to find Organic certified soups and foods in the grocery (According to USDA standards, all 100% Certified Organic foods must be GMO Free), but quick lunch breaks and tea with friends present the biggest challenge to “Ingestion Transparency.”
I've taken to planning my meals weekly again (trying not to get too obsessed), and bringing my lunch everyday to work, something I had gotten out of the habit of doing the past few months.
I'll be reporting on useful tips for avoiding GMOs, as well as offering recipes and reflections of my experience.
Here’s to mindfulness in our body, speech, mind, AND public policy.
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