Category Archives: GMO

Rogue GMO wheat making its way to U.S. farms

GMO-wheat1We’re pretty familiar with the the big five GMO crops that are permitted in U.S. farming. Corn, soy, sugar beets, cotton, and canola and products containing these ingredients are pretty much guaranteed to be genetically modified. There are still some crops, though, that have not been approved for genetic modification. Wheat would stand out in that category.

So, how did that genetically modified wheat end up in a field in Oregon? Investigators still don’t know, but now they’ve found GMO wheat in Montana, too.

Investigators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) say that they cannot figure out how genetically engineered wheat appeared, as if by magic, in a farmer’s field in eastern Oregon in the spring of 2013.

Having “exhausted all leads,” the agency has now closed the investigation. But that announcement was almost overshadowed by a new mini-bombshell: More unapproved GMO wheat was discovered this past summer at Montana State University’s Southern Agricultural Research Center (SARC) in Huntley, Mont.

It was discovered when workers tried to clear a small field using the weedkiller glyphosate. Some wheat plants survived, because they carried the glyphosate-tolerance gene that Monsanto Corp. had inserted into its GM varieties.

There were field trials of such wheat at that research station from 2000 to 2003, but all the grain from those trials should have been removed or destroyed. If some unharvested GMO grain remained in the field, it could have grown unnoticed in the intervening years.

Alan Tracy, president of U.S. Wheat Associates, which represents wheat exporters, downplayed the Montana discovery. “We don’t expect any reaction” from wheat buyers, he says, because the GM wheat was found at a research station rather than a commercial field.

The 2013 discovery, on the other hand, rocked wheat markets. The genetically modified grain was never approved for sale, and it’s unwelcome in countries that buy U.S. grain. Since it was found in a commercial wheat field, foreign buyers worried that GM wheat might have contaminated the entire American harvest, just as unapproved GM rice did in 2006. Japan and South Korea stopped buying U.S. wheat for a time.

Tests relieved those worries. GM wheat was never found anywhere else — not in commercial seed, nor in shipments of grain. Normal trade resumed.

But these tests only deepened the mystery. Where had this wheat come from? Investigators from APHIS interviewed farmers and took samples of wheat seed throughout the wheat-growing areas of Oregon and Washington, looking for clues.

They also carried out genetic analysis of the wheat that was found in the farmer’s field, hoping to match it with a specific variety of wheat, and thus with a particular field trial in which that type of wheat was grown. (Monsanto carried out numerous field trials of GMO wheat until 2005, when it canceled the program.)

No clues emerged. The genetic tests showed that this GM wheat was a genetic mixture of different types of wheat. Wheat breeders create such mixtures in the course of their work, but seed companies don’t sell them or carry out field trials of them.

Monsanto’s chief technology officer, Robert Fraley, floated his own hypothesis in a teleconference with reporters last year. “The fact pattern indicates the strong possibility that someone intentionally introduced wheat seed containing [Monsanto's new gene] into his field,” he said at the time. He speculated that this could have been an act of sabotage carried out by anti-biotech activists who somehow had acquired genetically engineered seed.

USDA investigators declined to endorse that scenario. “We were not able to determine how it took place,” says Bernadette Juarez, who led the APHIS investigation.

Carol Mallory-Smith, a professor of weed science at Oregon State University, said the rogue wheat — and other cases in which genetically modified crops have wandered far afield from their designated research plots — show that APHIS needs to monitor field trials of genetically modified crops more carefully.

People also need to realize that plant genes are likely to persist in the environment once they’re planted in open fields, she says.

“Any time a new trait is put into the environment, there’s really no way of retracting that gene or bringing it back and saying, ‘We’ve changed our mind,’ ” she says.

FoodFacts.com is well aware that once genetically modified seed is planted, the environment certainly does play a role in the spread of the crop. Cross contamination is a concern for organic farmers across the country. But it GMO wheat is no longer being developed, its appearance on more than one occasion is certainly puzzling. And it is certainly cause for concern. Professor Mallory-Smith certainly summed it up. There’s no going back after introducing genetically modified crops into the environment. It’s worth keeping an eye on.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/09/26/351785294/gmo-wheat-investigation-closed-but-another-one-opens

Food manufacturers quietly making the move away from GMO ingredients

GMO signWhile many states are attempting to adopt initiatives like the Vermont’s recently passed GMO labeling legislation, it appears that many food manufacturers are quietly attempting to make changes to their ingredients to meet consumer demands.

There have been other companies that haven’t been quiet about their non-GMO intentions. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream publicly pledged to remove GMO ingredients from their products over a year ago and has worked hard to keep that pledge.

In fact, in the face of complaints from some of their customers, the much-loved Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch has been reworked to become Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch. That flavor reformulation was a direct result of the company’s very public pledge. Heath Bars, manufactured by Hershey, DO contain GMO ingredients. Ben & Jerry’s couldn’t leave the Heath Bars in the ice cream if they were going to remove all GMO ingredients.

Ben & Jerry’s has taken a vocal stand in recent years in support of states looking at legislation that would require manufacturers to disclose food that is made with genetic engineering. And Vermont recently passed law will require labeling starting in 2015. Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield launched a campaign to help fill the coffers of Vermont’s crowd-sourced defense fund set up to combat lawsuits over its labeling law.
The news that Ben & Jerry’s is taking a stand on a controversial issue is no surprise; it’s part of the company’s calling card. But some other mainstream companies are carefully — and much more quietly — calibrating their non-GMO strategies.

General Mills’ original plain Cheerios are now GMO-free, but the only announcement was in a company blog post in January. And you won’t see any label on the box highlighting the change. Grape Nuts, another cereal aisle staple, made by Post, is also non-GMO. And Target has about 80 of its own brand items certified GMO-free.

Megan Westgate runs the Non-GMO Project, which acts as an independent third-party verifier of GMO-free products, including Target’s. She says her organization knows about “a lot of exciting cool things that are happening that for whatever strategic reasons get kept pretty quiet.”

The Non-GMO Project has certified more than 20,000 products since it launched in 2007, and Westgate says this is one of the fastest growing sectors of the natural food industry, representing $6 billion in annual sales. But just because they’re testing the water doesn’t mean most mainstream companies are ready to start publicizing their changes.

Nathan Hendricks, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University, says big food producers are trying to gauge what direction consumers are headed in. “Ultimately,” he says, “these big companies aren’t just friends with Monsanto or something. They want to make a profit, and they want to be able to do what’s going to make them money.” So they’d better have a product line in the works if consumer sentiment starts to shift more heavily toward GMO-free food.

But even as they create GMO-free products, many of these corporations are fighting state initiatives that would require them to give consumers more information about their ingredients.

They often fight those battles through the powerful Grocery Manufacturers Association, or GMA, a trade group with hundreds of members. It has just filed suit against Vermont over the state’s GMO labeling law.

Even Ben & Jerry’s, so vocal in its anti-GMO stance, has a conflict, of sorts. It may have eliminated GMOs, but it’s still owned by Unilever, which put a lot of money toward fighting labeling legislation in California and belongs to the GMA. That might make things sticky for Ben & Jerry’s CEO Solheim.

But he equivocates. “You know,” he shrugs, “in big companies a lot of things happen behind closed doors. I think we’ll leave that conversation behind closed doors.” But Solheim says a unique agreement between the ice cream maker and Unilever allows Ben & Jerry’s to continue its social mission independent of its parent’s choices.

One reason these large companies might be quietly working to make GMO-free food now is because finding ingredients can be a major challenge. More than 90 percent of all the soybeans and corn grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered. Most of those GMO crops go to producers of eggs, milk and meat who feed their animals with them, but GMO soy oil and cornstarch are used in a lot of food manufacturing, too.

To ensure non-GMO ingredients, the supply chain has to remain separate and pristine. Crops need to be grown far enough away from genetically engineered seeds to prevent cross-contamination. Harvesting equipment needs to be either used only for non-GMO crops or cleaned extensively before switching. The same is true for processing and manufacturing facilities and transport receptacles like shipping containers.

That’s why Westgate says a natural foods brand like Kashi, owned by Kellogg’s, is transitioning more slowly than many fans would like. She points out that Kashi told consumers it would take a couple of years to switch over all of its ingredients. It’s a matter of changing contracts with growers, finding farmland where non-GMOs can be grown successfully, and reworking recipes so the flavors that customers have grown used to aren’t drastically changed, like what has happened with Ben & Jerry’s new toffee.
Right now, non-GMO food fetches a premium. Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt says that premium is likely to come down if this part of the agricultural sector gains more traction and an efficiency of scale can kick in.

Ultimately, the consumer is king. And the question of whether or not consumers will want non-GMO products is still up in the air.

Not every company is Ben & Jerry’s. Their agreement with Unilever is the exception and not the rule in food manufacturing. We do get that. And we do understand that the removal of GMO ingredients from product lines is expensive and complicated. It’s a long process and one that isn’t easy for food manufacturers to undertake. FoodFacts.com is pleased to learn that there are mainstream manufacturers taking the necessary steps towards the removal of GMO ingredients even though they aren’t making announcements. Is the “consumer king” though? While it is true that consumer voices are motivating changes in food manufacturing, we have to believe that if all of us matter so much to food companies, many of the problems inherent in our food supply probably wouldn’t exist in the first place.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/07/22/333725880/some-food-producers-are-quietly-dumping-gmo-ingredients

Canola oil … heart healthy or not?

200017_10150140302023407_7125221_n.jpgOlive oil comes from olives. Peanut oil comes from peanuts. Coconut oil comes from coconuts. Did you ever stop to think where canola oil comes from? Is there any such thing as a canola plant?

The answer to that question is, “sort of.”

Let’s make this clearer. Today’s canola plant is a biologically modified cousin of the rapeseed plant, which is part of the mustard family. Rapeseed plants produce a substance called erucic acid that can be toxic in large amounts. So rapeseed oil is not actually fit for human or animal consumption. It is used, however, as a lubricant, fuel, soap and synthetic rubber base. It can also be found in insect repellents. The canola plant was developed in Canada during the 1960s and 70s in order to assure its safety for human consumption. That’s where the name comes from. It stands for Canadian Oil Low Acid.

So today there is a canola plant that exists because of the rapeseed plant, whose oil is inedible. The oil from the canola plant is not only edible, but, according to most sources, is better for consumption than many other available oils. It’s a good source of monounsaturated fats, the kind that, when used to replace saturated fats like butter and cheese, can help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. Canola oil is also a source of omega-3 fatty acids that have also been linked to heart health.

Still, there’s plenty of conflicting information out there. And because FoodFacts.com believes in consumer education, we thought it would be beneficial to report on the “other side” of canola oil.

Let’s begin with how the oil is extracted from the seeds of the canola plant. It appears that most canola oil is processed using hexane, which is a known carcinogen. The industry actually admits that trace amounts of hexane can be found in the finished product, but these amounts are insignificant. To be fair, many different vegetable oils, including soybean oil are processed the same way.

In addition to the use of hexane, the oil is removed using high temperature mechanical pressing. The presence of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the oil cause it to become foul-smelling during this high-heat process. It then becomes necessary to deodorize the oil. Because of the high-heat involved, both processes remove much of the omega-3s by turning them into trans fatty acids. The Canadian government lists the trans fat content of canola at just .2 percent.

And to add more conflicting information into the discussion, there are further reports that heating canola oil above 120 degrees will cause the formation of more trans fatty acids, again because of the breakdown of the remaining omega-3s. Most cooking classes teach that in order to saute protein properly, fat should be introduced into a pan heated to at least 212 degrees, depending on the fat used. So if the reports about heating canola oil over 120 degrees causing the formation of trans fats are realistic, we’re consuming more trans fat every time we cook using the oil.

These are just a few of the arguments against canola oil and its current status as a healthy fat for cooking. There are plenty of arguments out there in its favor though. Regardless of those, FoodFacts.com does think it’s important to repeat that nature didn’t create a canola plant. People did. As the FDA is considering a ban on trans fat in the food supply, we certainly think we could all use more clarity here.

http://www.naturalnews.com/043948_canola_oil_hidden_health_dangers_food_bar.html
http://www.naturalhealth365.com/food_news/canola-oil.html
http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/component/content/article/64-feature-writer-article/2570&Itemid=8

GMO-free original Cheerios coming to a grocery store near you

If you’re concerned about purchasing products containing probable GMO ingredients, you’ll want to make note of this story.

General Mills Inc. has announced that it has begun producing original Cheerios WITHOUT any genetically modified ingredients. The 73-year-old breakfast cereal is one of the highest-profile brands to make this change, responding to the growing number of complaints in regard to the use of genetically modified ingredients in packaged foods.

This change is only being made to original Cheerios. Other varieties, like Honey Nut Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios and Apple Cinnamon Cheerios are still being manufactured using the same ingredients. General Mills began working towards this change in the manufacturing of original Cheerios about a year ago and began the actual manufacturing process of the GMO-free cereal several weeks ago. They are stating that they expect the new product to be available to consumers “shortly,” once the products have made their way through the distribution system and onto shelves nationwide.

You’ll be able to identify the new GMO-free version of the cereal easily. These Cheerios will carry the label “Not Made With Genetically Modified Ingredients.” General Mills does note, however, that the product could contain trace amounts due to contamination in shipping or manufacturing.

We know that the FoodFacts.com community is well-versed in the debate regarding GMO ingredients in our food supply. GMO critics are calling this major move by Cheerios a victory in the fight against the use of genetically modified ingredients. There are initiatives proposed in several states calling for the labeling of GMO ingredients in our food supply.

While many advocacy groups have petitioned major food manufacturers to change their policies and begin producing their brands without the use of genetically modified ingredients, most large companies have rejected these efforts. They argue that there is no proof of health concerns resulting from the use of GMOs. Most are also against GMO labeling, saying that this would be a costly measure and reinforces a misconception about genetically modified ingredients.

General Mills spokesperson Mike Siemienas stated that “There is broad consensus that food containing GMOs is safe, but we decided to move forward with this in response to consumer demand.” Because the primary ingredient in Cheerios is oats, a crop that isn’t grown from genetically modified seeds, the transition just required General Mills to find new sources of cornstarch and sugar.

“Even that required significant investment,” Mr. Siemienas said. He didn’t provide a figure, but said that the hurdles would make it “difficult, if not impossible” to make Honey Nut Cheerios and other varieties without GMOs.

GMO Inside, a campaign that advocates GMO labeling, said Cheerios is the first major brand of packaged food in the U.S. to make the switch from containing GMOs to marketing itself as non-GMO. Other companies have also said they plan to change. Whole Foods Market Inc. said it will require by 2018 that all food in its stores containing GMOs, disclose the fact on labels. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Kellogg Co.’s Kashi, which markets its cereals and snacks as having “natural ingredients,” have both said they are working on taking GMOs out of their food.

But it is a lengthy and expensive process. Kashi says only 1% of U.S. cropland is organic and around 70% of packaged foods contain GMOs.

This voluntary change by General Mills in the manufacturing of original Cheerios may encourage other large manufacturers to follow suit. While it may be difficult and expensive to source the ingredients and change their processes, a brand as large as Cheerios embracing what companies view as a difficult transition can certainly begin a trend in food manufacturing.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303370904579297211874270146

Congratulations Connecticut!

FoodFacts.com wants to extend our congratulations to the state of Connecticut for becoming the first state in the U.S. to officially pass a law requiring the labeling of all genetically modified ingredients on food products sold in their state! Great job Connecticut legislature!

Unfortunately, when we read further we discovered that, in fact, passing the law for Connecticut is only just the beginning. Those transparent labels we’re all so adamant about won’t be on food product’s on the state’s grocery store shelves just yet. Connecticut needs the company of its neighbors before it can actively enforce the law.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s office issued a press release explaining both the law and what’s required for it to go into effect:

House Bill 6527 – An Act Concerning Genetically-Engineered Food, will require producers to label genetically-engineered food in Connecticut as long as four states from the New England region with an aggregate population of 20 million also adopt a labeling provision.

So neighboring states will need to pass similar legislation in order for Connecticut to realize the benefits of this newly passed law.

Health and nutrition-conscious consumers nationwide have been standing up for the consumers right to know if ingredients in the products they are purchasing are genetically modified. We are looking for the transparency that will allow us to determine for ourselves whether or not we want to consume GMOs.

Opponents of the Connecticut bill (and others like it) continue to point out there is very little scientific evidence that GMOs are dangerous to our health. They say that available information points to the idea that genetically modified crops are “generally safe” for human consumption and are not associated with any serious health problems.

While Connecticut is the first state to official pass a GMO labeling law (whether or not it can currently be acted upon), it’s not the first to propose one. California is still working on it after the defeat of Proposition 37. Vermont is halfway there. And New Hampshire, Maine, Massachussetts and Rhode Island are in discussions about similar bills.

While we’ll have to wait for Connecticut’s neighbors to take similar actions in order to see the results of their leadership, FoodFacts.com wants to applaud the groundbreaking actions taken by its legislature. Passing the GMO Labeling initiative in Connecticut took real initiative, courage and leadership. It required the state’s lawmakers to disregard possible backlash from food manufacturers and put the rights of its citizens ahead of other voices. We’re hopeful that the actions of these lawmakers will encourage others nationwide to do the right thing for consumers all over the country.

Read more: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/2013/06/connecticut-passes-gmo-labeling-law/#ixzz2VOcmejaI

Way to go Vermont! House passes GMO Bill

FoodFacts.com is excited to inform our community that Vermont is coming close to being the first state in the nation to require labeling of genetically modified foods!

The Vermont House passed the bill by an incredible 107-37 vote! While the measure wouldn’t go into effect for two years if passed by the senate and signed by the governor, this is a groundbreaking moment for all of us who support the labeling of GMO ingredients in our food supply.

A little more on the bill – if passed, it would not affect the labeling of meat, milk or eggs from animals that were fed or treated with genetically engineered substances. But it would require that any food product that contains a GMO ingredient (think corn, soy and sugar) would need to clearly state it on its labeling.

It was interesting to learn that there was no argument against the idea of transparent labeling for GMO ingredients in food. Those that voiced opposition to the bill stated concerns of likely lawsuits from the biotech and food industries. This appears to be the state’s biggest concern as it would be an exceptionally costly proposition. Many believe that the state would lose such a lawsuit, as the new law could possibly contradict the First Amendment by compelling speech and pre-empting federal authority (since the FDA has not made the labeling of GMO ingredients a federal requirement).

A ballot initiative that would have required the labeling of GMO ingredients in California was defeated last year. There was a lot of money spent accomplishing the defeat of that proposition. Since that time though, many states have been considering a bill like the one that just passed the house in Vermont. The legislation of GMO ingredient labeling isn’t dying. Most of the corn, soy, and sugar beets grown in the U.S. are genetically modified. These ingredients are used commonly in the processed foods on our grocery shelves. But consumers can’t know that since they aren’t labeled as such. The labeling requirement would allow consumers a much-needed choice in the products they purchase.

64 different countries – the European Union nations, China and Russia included – have GMO-labeling laws. If this bill passes in Vermont and is signed into law, a new trend may begin here in America. FoodFacts.com is excited to see that new trend begin! We’ll keep following this news and bring you the results as soon as we have them!

http://grist.org/news/vermont-house-approves-gmo-labeling-law/

Are Girl Scout Cookies “doing a good turn” for American consumers?

FoodFacts.com has a question for our community … can you tell us what Partially Hydrogenated Oils, Artificial Flavors, Natural Flavors, Caramel Color, Sorbitol, Carrageenan and GMO ingredients have in common with Samoas, Tagalongs, Thin Mints, Do-Si-Dos and Dulce De Leches?

If your answer was these are the controversial ingredients found in our favorite Girl Scout Cookies, you were, sadly, 100% correct. And FoodFacts.com wanted to highlight that some of our favorite, traditional cookies from our nation’s premier non-profit organization for girls has some serious work to do to bring their branded cookies up to date with their decades’ old and admirable values.

Since 1912, the Girl Scouts’ slogan has been “Do a good turn daily.” The slogan is to stand as a reminder of the many ways girls can contribute positively to the lives of others. FoodFacts.com understands how the Girl Scouts shapes the lives of girls in our country positively, year after year. We just think that as an organization they should embody their own slogan and “Do a good turn daily” in the lives of others by insisting on the improvement of the ingredient lists on the cookie products that carry their logo.

During the first quarter of 2012, the Girl Scouts of the USA generated over $700 million in cookie sales. That’s enough cookies to make the non-profit the number three cookie company in the U.S. It’s a very impressive statistic and translates into the consumption of millions of Samoas (Caramel deLites), Tagalongs (Peanut Butter Patties) and Thin Mints. Depending on your location in the U.S., the Girl Scout Cookies you purchase are baked by either Little Brownie Bakers (a subsidiary of Keebler which is owned by Kellogg’s) or ABC Bakers (owned by George Weston Limited). Both companies are licensed by the Girl Scouts to produce the 11 varieties of cookies currently available (according to the Girl Scout Cookie website). The bakers can use different names for the cookies and there is no attempt to standardize the names between the bakeries at this juncture.

Unfortunately, the Girl Scouts organization has been petitioned a few times by concerned consumers regarding the ingredients their bakers are including in their branded cookies. They were urged to address the use of Hydrogenated Oils. Consumers have suggested that the use of Hydrogenated Oils (as well as other controversial items) is in direct conflict with the Girl Scouts efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle among their young members. In 2007, the Girl Scouts of the USA announced that all their cookies had less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving, which allowed them to meet the FDA requirements for “zero trans fat” labeling. While that’s an improvement, it certainly doesn’t change the idea that there are many, many consumers who aren’t stopping at one serving.

Artificial and Natural Flavors, as well as Caramel Color, Sorbitol and Carrageenan are common on many of the ingredient lists. In addition, consumers have petitioned the Girl Scouts to remove Genetically Modified ingredients from their cookies.

You can review the ingredient information and nutritional content for some of the most popular cookie varieties on our website. Click through for Samoas, Tagalongs and Thin Mints:

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Coconut-Cookies/Girl-Scout-Cookies-Samoas-715/86461
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Other-Cookies/Girl-Scout-Tagalongs-Cookies-15-cookies/86462
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Chocolate-Flavored-Cookies/Girl-Scout-Cookies-Thin-Mints-8-oz/86460

FoodFacts.com believes in the mission of the Girl Scouts of the USA. We understand that they empower girls from a young age to be responsible, accountable citizens ready to take their place as productive adults in our society. And we are all for the idea of helping girls across our nation understand the importance of being willing to serve and do a job well. We also really love buying Girl Scout Cookies to help raise funds for this very worthy organization. But, we’d also love to see that organization take its own words to heart and improve the quality of the ingredients chosen for the cookies so many Americans are consuming each and every year.

Stay involved in the fight against GMOs … tell grocery stores to say NO to genetically modified seafood!

FoodFacts.com loves a good petition! We’re always encouraged by the impact of consumer voices on the food industry. Today we found information that we wanted to share with our community so that we all can stay involved in the fight against GMOs.

This comes from Friends of the Earth and their new petition that will tell supermarkets, food companies and restaurants to keep genetically modified seafood out of our food supply. Their new campaign has launched and we can all get involved.

Research indicates that over 90% of consumers are against the FDA allowing genetically modified fish in our food supply. The FDA, however is close to approving AquAdvantage – a salmon that’s been genetically engineered to grow faster. If they do approve this, it will be the first genetically modified animal to enter our food system. As it stands now, the fish will probably not be labeled and we won’t know what we’re actually consuming.

About 35 different species of genetically modified fish are currently in development. If the GM salmon is approved it will open the door for other genetically engineered fish and meats to enter the food supply.

This important information has spurred Friends of the Earth to ask grocery stores, seafood restaurants, chefs and seafood companies to commit to NOT source or sell GMO seafood if it comes to market. And they’re asking all of us to get involved in their efforts. Sign their petition asking companies to make this commitment and help keep genetically engineered fish out of our grocery stores and restaurants.

To date, almost a dozen major food retailers with stores nationwide have taken the Pledge for GE-Free Seafood or have otherwise stated their commitment not to knowingly purchase or sell genetically engineered salmon or seafood. These include:

Aldi
Abundance Co-Op Market
Berkshire Co-Op Market
Bi-Rite Market
Davis Food Co-Op
Marsh Supermarket
Merc Co-Op
PCC Natural Markets
Sacramento Natural Foods Cooperative
Three Rivers Market
Trader Joe’s
Whole Foods
Whole Foods Co-Op

Let’s help make this list longer! FoodFacts.com encourages our community to get involved with Friends of the Earth and tell companies to say NO to genetically engineered seafood. You can find the petition here at Friends of the Earth. Let’s stay active and involved in the fight against GMOs!

Read more: http://www.foe.org/gefreeseafood

Genetically Modified Salmon could hit supermarkets quicker than first thought … Frankenfish gets initial FDA Approval

FoodFacts.com learned today that it’s quite possible that GMO salmon may soon be coming to a seafood section near you – but you might not know it when it gets there. Nicknamed “Frankenfish” due to its abnormally large size in comparison to natural salmon, genetically modified Atlantic salmon was given initial approval. This was the last step in the process to market.

The genetically engineered salmon was developed by AquaBounty and uses DNA from a Chinook salmon and something called an ocean pout (which is an eel-like fish). This genetic combination caused the fish to grow twice as fast as wild salmon. This makes the production of the fish more cost effective for the manufacturer. While we’re all aware of the copious amounts of genetically engineered products in our food supply, the FDA’s approval for the new salmon is actually the first time a genetically engineered animal product would be available to consumers anywhere in the world. Of course, consumers won’t know which salmon they’re buying – the larger sized, faster growing genetically engineered fish or the wild product that only contains its own genes.

There is plenty of opposition to the genetically engineered salmon. Obviously, for consumers the big issue is the labeling. But, others are perturbed by possible effects on the fishing industry in this country as well as the impact the GMO salmon could have on the wild salmon population.

The approval process is to be followed by a 60-day public comment period regarding the genetically engineered salmon. After that time comments will be reviewed and final approval can be given in early 2013. AquaBounty insists that its methods of raising the new salmon circumvent any possible problems being brought to light by the fishes’ opponents.

FoodFacts.com will monitor the FDA site to locate the public comment area for genetically modified salmon, so that we can alert you to it. In the meantime, there is certainly a lot of reading you can do on this controversial subject. We’ve shared the links below in hopes that you will educate yourself further on the many and varied potential issues that may be moving in to your grocery store in the very near future.

http://my.firedoglake.com/edwardteller/2012/12/26/fda-approves-frankenfish-what-could-possibly-go-wrong/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/21/aquaadvantage-genetically-modified-salmon-no-threat_n_2347757.html
http://www.livescience.com/25799-frankenfish-salmon-gmo.html

The power of social media … Saying no to GMOs on the Cheerios Facebook page

FoodFacts.com definitely considers this story food for thought. It appears that consumers who are staunchly against GMOs and avidly for GMO labeling on food products have paid more than a bit of attention to the Facebook Cheerios page. They are expressing their extreme disapproval for the non-labeling of GMO ingredients in the popular General Mills’ product.

The General Mills’ Cheerios Facebook page was intended to be a social media outlet for consumers to share their childhood memories of Cheerios. Let’s remember that regardless of ingredients, Cheerios were and still are the first “finger food” that most pediatricians recommend for babies/toddlers. They’re actually included in evaluations for the Pincer Grasp (the incredibly important physical achievement for young toddlers that involves being able to pick up a small object between the thumb and index finger). Do a search in Google images for Pincer Grasp. Most of the images that turn up in the search will, in fact, involve Cheerios. Combine all that with the heart-healthy marketing campaigns and the little cartoon bees for the “Honey Nut” variety and it really isn’t so unusual that Cheerios is an incredibly popular brand here in the U.S.

But the power of social media can show its force on even the most popular of brands. It appears that late in November anti-GMO posters hijacked the Cheerios Facebook page. It seems that GMOInside – a coalition of organizations was somehow behind the efforts to inundate the Cheerios Facebook page with comments from Anti-GMO consumers.

General Mills contributed $1.1 million to the efforts to defeat Proposition 37 in California – the proposed bill to require the labeling of GMO ingredients in California’s food supply. While General Mills’ contribution was less than those of many other companies.

The floodgates opened when General Mills promoted a smartphone app that asked users to tell them what the Cheerios brand meant to them. They printed the comments in the classic Cheerios typeface and put them up on the Facebook page. But GMOInside asked its followers to send messages to General Mills via that same app.

So if you visit the Cheerios Facebook page right now, you’ll see posts from consumers telling General Mills they aren’t buying Cheerios anymore because General Mills isn’t labeling the product appropriately.

The power of social media is a huge and all-encompassing force. FoodFacts.com is hopeful that General Mills will take note of the plethora of messages on the Cheerios Facebook page. Consumers are simply asking for transparency and honesty. The request is not for them to remove ingredients from Cheerios, but to let consumers decide for themselves whether or not to include GMO ingredients in their diets. The only way a Cheerios consumer can do that is for General Mills to label Cheerios accordingly. We like the idea. We hope they do too.

http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/12/general-mills-cheerios-facebook-page-anti-gmo-campaign/
http://gmoinside.org/launch-gmo-inside-campaign-cheerios/