One of the greatest challenges and controversial issues of the 21st century is the practice of genetically altering meat or animal products through hormones, gene or drug injections. It is already a widely accepted practice today.
Biotechnologists take the genetic material and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another – creating traits not seen or known before in those species.
You don’t have to imagine genetically engineered super salmon that grows twice as fast as farm raised salmon or goats spliced with spider genes to produce silk in their milk or pigs with genes that make their manure less environmentally damaging because it’s happening right now and may be headed to your supermarket soon.
No animal products are currently on the market, but when they do arrive we are to believe that by adding the DNA of animals with the DNA or genes from other animals we will have an improved, more nutritious specimen.
If the specter of this isn’t frightening enough when these altered specimens hit the marketplace, these products will be sold to you without your knowledge and we will have no idea what the actual product is. The FDA wants to regulate gene-altered animals under new provisions that are similar to the provisions in place for the approval of new drugs.
However, the drug approval process in this country is extremely secretive and would be outside the law to reveal even an application for a new gene-altered animal until after approval for supermarket shelves.
Your right to know will be taken from you because, after seven years of debate, the FDA refuses to require labeling and has decided it’s not important for the consumer to be informed that his purchase from the meat counter has been genetically engineered.
Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union, along with many other advocacies and consumer organizations, disagrees with the FDA’s decision and says these altered animal products should be labeled as such.
Inscrutably, the FDA also has no specific rules for putting labels on functional foods either, nor is there a specific office for evaluating them. They define functional foods as foods that have been modified to make them more nutritious.
If you look closely enough you might recognize peanut butter, but not realize it could be infused with beet powder, carrots, and bananas. Then there is the specially bred tomato that appears in some products, pulped and encapsulated in beadless which can be partly plastic and designed to deliver foods to certain parts of the digestive tract.
Fortified food has been a public-health policy for decades. Dr. Jeffrey Mechanick, professor of endocrinology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says things have changed because years ago there were rigorous public health studies, but now the FDA’s current labeling standards are inadequate and the science isn’t there for these new products.
There are legitimate concerns for human health along with environmental issues, disruption of trade with countries not prepared for altered foods or the welfare of genetically engineered animals, or even possible destruction of the food chain.
We deserve to know all the information about the food we’re eating so health-conscious consumers can choose unadulterated, unaltered, unprocessed, food that supports vibrant health.