When you buy organic eggs, you expect to get eggs from chickens that haven't
been subjected to antibiotics, hormones or pesticides; but they may be produced
with genetically modified poultry feed, according to Albert Straus from Diamond
Straus decided to test the feed that he gives his 1,600 cows last year and
was alarmed to find that nearly 6% of the organic corn feed he received from
suppliers containes genetically modified (GM) organisms.
Organic food is, by definition,
supposed to be free of genetically modified material, and organic crops are
required to be isolated from other crops; but as GM crops become more prevalent,
there is little that an organic farmer can do to prevent a speck of GM pollen or
a stray GM seed from being blown by the wind onto his land or farm equipment
and, eventually, into his products. In 2006, GM crops accounted for 61% of all
the corn planted in the US and 89% of all the soybeans.
Straus and five other natural food
producers, including industry leader Whole Foods, announced last week that they
would seek a new certification for their products, "non-GMO verified," in the
hopes that it will become a voluntary industry standard for GM-free
A non-profit group called the Non-GMO Project runs the program,
and the testing is conducted by an outside lab called Genetic ID. In a few
weeks, Straus expects to become the first food manufacturer in the country to
carry the label in addition to his "organic" one.
Department of Agriculture, unlike agencies in Europe and Japan, do not require
GM foods to be labelled. While scientists have not identified any specific
health risks from eating GM foods, anti-GM activists say there is not enough
research yet into their long-term risks or impact on biodiversity.
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