By SADIE PRICE-ELLIOTT, age 12
Your favorite foods, like Fruity Pebbles, Hershey bars and canned soup, have most likely been genetically engineered. Genetic engineering is a process where the DNA in foods is altered. While it has many benefits, the potential drawbacks have scared some consumers.
Currently foods containing GMOs are not required to be labeled, though multiple a surveys conducted by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Reuters and NPR have shown that over 90 percent of people want to know if their food has been genetically modified.
More than 60 countries have already enacted GMO labeling laws, and some have outright banned the use of GMOs. The United States has yet to pass similar laws. Made up of 37 states, the Right to Know GMO – A Coalition of States, helps educate the United States on the possible risks of GMOs and advocate for labeling laws. A bill called the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act was introduced in early 2013 but hasn’t been revisited since.
Although first developed in 1982, GMO products were not sold to the public until 1994. Now, GMOs are used by major corporations like Monsanto with goals to create crops that are resistant to certain pesticides or diseases. Some people claim they can also enhance food flavor, although many others believe the opposite.
Genetic engineering has not yet been proven safe. No long-term studies have been conducted on the health risks, though the Federal Department of Agriculture oversees testing on new GMO products. However, the actual testing is done by the private companies producing the products, which has drawn criticism from GMO skeptics.
More and more people are standing for GMO labeling. This includes 14-year-old Canadian activist Rachel Parent who founded the organization KIDS Right to Know to fight for labeling laws. In an interview with talk show host Kevin O’Leary, she argued: “I mean, at least test it [GMO crops] properly, adequately. That way we know, as the consumer, if it’s safe.”