In Wednesday's Tribune, we look at genetically modified foods and those trying to get them labeled as such or pulled from stores like Trader Joe’s and
The subject of genetically modified crops is full of passionate voices on both sides. We covered the issue in Wednesday's story. Even so, some readers may still walk away with questions about whether to avoid them or how to do so if they wish.
These extra morsels may help make this huge subject more digestible:
How much do stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Market vet their products for eco- and health-conscious shoppers?
We had discussions with both stores for the story. Both companies are very attuned to customer concerns about GMOs, and say they are doing what they can to remove and reduce them in their stores. Representatives for the Non-GMO Project give high marks to Whole Foods Market for doing such things as getting their 365 Every Day Values store brand verified non-GMO -- and strongly encouraging suppliers of their other products to enroll in the non-GMO program.
In a statement, Trader Joe's told us that "all products in Trader Joe's private label are sourced from non-genetically modified ingredients. Our efforts began in 2001, when we determined that, given a choice, our customers would prefer to eat foods and beverages made without the use of genetically engineered ingredients. Our process has been to identify any product containing ingredients that could potentially be derived from genetically engineered crops and work with our suppliers to replace offending ingredients with acceptable alternatives."
So if Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are working so hard to get GMOs out of the food they sell, why are they being targeted by the Organic Consumers Association for protest? Why isn't the OCA going after mainstream grocers?
The OCA's Alexis Baden-Mayer gets this questions all the time. Here's her response:
"A lot of people ask 'Why not Walmart?' Well, we have action alerts about them, too, and will get to them eventually. But right now Whole Foods is in major cities and it's in rich neighborhoods and they serve a certain demographic who trust them. We believe Walmart will get to it but they will follow Whole Foods. No one is going to do better than Whole Foods. They will always been the gold standard for meeting these consumer issues. They're the leader."
If government agencies think these foods are safe, why all the protest and resistance?
I was surprised to find during my reporting that the
Why doesn't the U.S. require labeling of genetically modified foods when other countries do?
People have different answers for that. The GMO industry says it's because labels aren't necessary, aren't wanted by consumers and would be confusing. Some consumer, policy and scientific groups say it's because if Americans knew how much of their foods were genetically modified, they wouldn't buy them.
I've heard that genetically modified crops can boost yields, resist droughts and feed the world. Shouldn't we use them to help solve hunger?
When I asked the Biotechnology Industry Organization if there are any genetically modified yield boosting or drought-resistant crops on the market, they said there were not.
Some commericially-grown, genetically-engineered crops have a repellent toxin in them, or are bred to resist a certain pesticide, commercially called Roundup. BIO also told me that there is a tiny percentage of special soy produced through selective breeding followed by
-- Monica Eng