Most soybean, corn, cotton and canola crops in the U.S. are genetically altered. Some experts argue that these crops could pose serious health and environmental risks, but the scientific picture is currently incomplete — deliberately so.
Agricultural corporations such as Monsanto and Syngenta have restricted independent research on the crops. They have refused to provide independent scientists with seeds, or else have set restrictive conditions that severely limit research. This is legal because under U.S. law, genetically engineered crops are patentable.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
“Agricultural companies defend their stonewalling by saying that unrestricted research could make them vulnerable to lawsuits if an experiment somehow leads to harm, or that it could give competitors unfair insight into their products. But it’s likely that the companies fear something else as well: An experiment could reveal that a genetically engineered product is hazardous or doesn’t perform as promised.”
Even if you don’t want to eat genetically engineered foods, you most likely already are doing so. Corn and soy are two of the most common food ingredients, especially in processed foods, and over 90 percent of both these crops in the US are now from GM seeds.
Organic food companies and consumer groups are stepping up their efforts to get the government to exercise more oversight of engineered foods. Critics of current policy argue that the genetically modified (GM) seeds are often contaminating the nearby non-GM crops.
ABC News reports:
“The U.S. government has insisted there’s not enough difference between the genetically modified seeds its agencies have approved and natural seeds to cause concern. But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, more so than his predecessors in previous administrations, has acknowledged the debate over the issue and a growing chorus of consumers concerned about what they are eating.”
Los Angeles Time February 13, 2011
ABC News February 28, 2011