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Anti-GMO advocates say labeling legislation isn’t enough

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WEST MICHIGAN -- For many Americans, a healthy lifestyle means eating organic, but recent health trends include cutting out genetically modified foods. That health trend has become so common that laws have been passed recently about disclaimers on food labels, but some groups don't think these labels tell the whole story.

Friends Betsey Boss and Shannon Andrus are embracing a new and unique lifestyle.

"I really wanted to raise my son knowing exactly where food was coming from, even though he was still little," said Betsey Boss. "I just wanted to have that ingrained when he was growing up."

Boss refuses to buy foods for her family or herself that don't have a label signaling that it's organic and GMO-free.

GMO, or genetically modified foods, are being researched right here in Michigan. Experts say it's a process that allows crops to adapt and grow in harsh environments. Brad Day, a researcher at Michigan State University says those environments or stresses might be an extreme climate where plants normally do not grow or in some cases, an environment that uses less pesticides.

"This really allows us to protect food as we know it," said Day. "It allows us to protect food in the face of a changing climate and the face of pathogens, or pests, insect pests that are adapting to climate change and therefore becoming more of a problem to our food supply."

But it doesn't come without controversy. Despite research that GMOs don't harm humans, many groups speculate they actually do.

"They can cause infertility problems, they can cause organ damage, they can cause immunity issues, gut issues, a lot of different things," said Boss.

"Are we going to sit back and allow this to take place?" said Dr. Paul Keck. "We are poisoning ourselves and our children and grandchildren."

Dr. Paul Keck is a retired dentist, but he has dedicated the past few years to anti-GMO research and shares a similar opinion with people like Betsey Boss and Shannon Andrus.

"It's unethical to test on humans, but everyone is being tested on," said Shannon Andrus.

Researchers say they shouldn't fear the GMO movement stating GMOs are helping to feed the world's rapidly-growing population in an ever-changing environment.

"There's one study published about three or four years ago in the American Academy for Environmental Medicine that fed lab mice 7,000 times the daily allowance using genetically modified organisms and saw no impact on these animals' health," said Day.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow has pushed for federal oversight. Food companies that make over $1 million now must put either a code on their labels that links you to more information, a website link, or a phone number to get further nutritional information. Anti-GMO advocates say it's not enough.

"We should be trying to make things easier for the person that shops," said Dr. Keck. "To expect anybody that does the shopping to use their smartphone on every single product that they are intending to purchase in a store is absolutely discriminatory and as usual, the people that suffer the most are the poor."

"I still feel like we are left in the dark," said Boss. "The reason being is you have to have a smart phone to use this technology and you have to go and scan a certain food item and the company will then give an explanation."

You won't see these federal changes overnight. Companies have two years to finalize regulations for disclosure, but some companies like Campbell's Soup and General Mills are including this information on their labels already. Certain stores are also making the information readily available for consumers.

"Some of the major chain grocery stores have made the change and are definitely catering to people who are looking for a clean eating food system," said Boss. "Meijer and Harvest Health are terrific at meeting customer demands."

"Whole Foods is actually going to start labeling the foods, the products themselves, everything," said Andrus.

It's a movement with a lot of support. A recent Harris Poll found 75 percent of Americans support labeling legislation.

"There are no long-term human studies done and I don't want my child to be a science experiment, said Boss. "That's why I'm so passionate about my food system today."

This is a very hot topic, especially in Michigan, where we grow 300 different crops and help feed people all over the world. Brad Day invites anyone who might be interested in learning more about GMO research happening in the state to check out the labs at Michigan State University.

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21 comments

  • Paul

    Why don’t you uneducated cry babies grow your own food, and stop crying to the rest of us.
    Oopps, sorry your rather leave the task of growing food to us farmer, so you can sit back and complain.
    Move to Canada with Barbara Stristand.

  • Lisa

    I was very disappointed in this segment. The sides of the GMO issue were not evenly presented and those that were anti-GMO did not back up any of their claims with research. I would like to know where is the proof and research behind the claims that GMOs cause infertility, organ damage, etc. It is unfortunate that the individuals talking about not using GMOs in their homes will be seen as experts on the issue. I would appreciate it if the news would present more facts rather than opinions on the issue. Understanding how GMOs are created should have been explained further. Also since there are only 9 commercially available GMO crops in the US not every product on the shelf would need a label because it isn’t even possible for there to be GMOs in them. I hope consumers find more reputable research on this issue before making a decision about using or not using GMO food in their homes. Please take up the offer from Brad Day, go to the lab at MSU, ask lots of questions, and truly learn more about GMOs.

      • Robert Howd

        I hope you don’t rely on any information from Seralini and his colleagues, who have been devoted to attacking GMO production for years. Seralini et al. have produced some of the most misleading “scientific” studies I’ve ever seen. The most prominent one, showing gross tumors in rats after being fed GMO corn or traces of glyphosate, was correctly criticized for not making clear that the control rats had just as many, and just as large tumors.

        • olmon1

          Robert Howd — Are you a Monsanto shill or are you just ignorant. Anyone who has been keeping up to date & informed KNOWS that Seralini was vindicated, his study republished AND the guy who was responsible for the study being retracted in the first place (He was a Monsanto plant on the editorial staff of the journal) was found guilty of forgery & other malfeasance & will likely go to jail if he’s not there already. There was also a large uproar in the scientific community over the retraction at the time. http://naturalsociety.com/hotly-debated-study-gmo-republished-1240-scientists-will-supressed/

    • Tanya

      Lisa – it is disappointing because Betsey, Paul, and Shannon provided studies to back their claims but Fox 17 neglected to share that. The news will never adequately cover the anti-GMO movement.

  • steve

    I guess it’s too much for consumers to read the labels.If someone is that concerned about their GMO intake, they shouldn’t need a neon sign and a siren to warn them what’s “bad”.

    • olmon1

      A neon sign and a siren are a little overboard, but having it listed on the label for those that DO care enough to read the labels certainly isn’t too much to expect.

    • Marcus

      We pay enormous amounts of money to US FDA and USDA to protect us from these poisons. Those organizations were completely infiltrated and sabotaged by Monsanto and that ilk. We , as consumers should not have to look at labels to see that our food isn’t contaminated with poisons and carcinogens.

      • Robert Howd

        Weird statement. Hundreds of chemicals have been shown to be carcinogenic at high doses in animal studies, including half of the natural pesticides produced by plants to protect themselves against animals that want to eat them. The trace pesticides found in foods are regulated to much lower levels, and much lower estimated cancer risk, than the natural toxins. If it’s a natural food constituent (like thiocyanates in mustard and horseradish), the FDA, in general, doesn’t regulate it.

  • Jay

    You people just don’t get it 3rd world countries are refusing food for America open your eyes not all GMOs are bad the ones you need to stay away from have roundup and others pesticides in the seeds and still spray them with round up and I do grow my own food I live in the city what happened to the farmers that cared they exist they are at farmers markets and will till you we are not doing a good job with the way we are growing watch the movie OMG GMO and I guarantee you will change the why you talk to people who care about their health all you people Who can’t see their feet or genitals without looking in a mirror that from gmos my friend your fat because you eat garbage

  • Chris

    I always relate to skin thickness of corn. Do you like loose stool with whole corn, keep eating GMOs. It also takes more energy to break down GMOs

    • Robert Howd

      More energy to break down GMOs? That’s a new one! Somehow, the body is (apparently) able to distinguish between sugar produced by GMO sugar beets versus non-GMO sugar beets! Magic? You decide….

  • Marcus

    The only thing GMO crops do is cause cancer (denied by Phillip Morris’ heritage foundation. The same folks that SWORE smoking didn’t cause cancer) and create super weeds. The seeds themselves have never met the projected crop yields and the lawsuits that the paid pumpers swear never happened have forced almost all chances of farmers making a decent living almost impossible.
    Nope nothing connected to these seeds is good.

    Don’t even mention the pesticide use that Monsanto SWEARS will reduce the amounts they use. It actually increased pesticide use by 154%. Heritage Foundation and the Genetic Literacy Project, both pretty much funded exclusively by Monsanto, SWEAR that’s not true.

    So when you’re happily munching on anything that uses corn or soy beans as an ingredient, which is just about everything, you’re ingesting Glyphosphate. It’s building up in you right now.

    thank these monied concerns when your children die of cancer