By Nina Wu
In a recent Star Advertiser-Hawaii News Now poll, three-quarters of voters interviewed want the state Legislature to pass a law requiring that all genetically modified organisms sold in Hawaii be labeled.
Yet only a quarter of voters were very familiar with GMOs. Still, consumers feel that they have a right to know.
Here's Monsanto's stance on labeling GE Foods — basically that it opposes mandatory labeling because "it could imply incorrectly that foods containing these ingredients are somehow inferior to their conventional or organic counterparts."
If you're concerned, help is here.
According to the EWG, a non-profit based in Washington D.C., more than 60 other nations, including France, Germany, Japan, Russia, China and the United Kingdom require GE labeling. The U.S. government, however, does not require labeling of GE foods or ingredients.
EWG says while scientists have not determined whether GE food poses risks to human health, consumers have many good reasons to be concerned.
On its "Watch List" the EWG included:
>> Papaya. More than 75 percent of Hawaiian papaya is genetically engineered to resist the ringspot virus (Hawaiian Papaya Industry Association 2013).
>> Zucchini and yellow summer squash. A few varieties of squash are genetically engineered. Opt for organic varieties.
>> Sweet corn. Most sweet corn sold in supermarkets and farm stands is not grown from GE seeds, but a few varieties are. Buy organic sweet corn.
Four most common GE ingredients in food, according to EWG:
>> Field corn and corn-derived ingredients. Some 90 percent of corn grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered. While most of it is cultivated for animal feed, about 12 percent is processed as corn flour, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, masa, corn meal and corn oil that end up in foods consumed by people (EPA 2013). Consumers should assume that those ingredients in processed foods are genetically engineered.
>> Soybeans and soybean-derived ingredients. The list would include soy proteins, soybean oil, soy milk, soy sauce, tofu or soy lecithin (unless certified organic or GE-free).
>> Sugar. About 55 percent of sugar produced in the U.S. comes from sugar beets, 95 percent of which have been genetically engineered (USDA 2013c). EWG says if a product label does not specify it has been made with "pure cane" sugar, chances are significant it contains GE beet sugar.
>> Vegetable oils. Consumers should assume that vegetable oil, canola oil, cottonseed, soybean and corn oils are genetically engineered.