When it comes to defining a product as organic or not, who makes the final decision? Is it the consumer? The manufacturer? In reality no one truly can put a label on items being organic or not in today’s agricultural world.

When it comes to defining a product as organic, farmers and manufacturers look to the terms in which the item was grown. Items using GMOs are categorized as non-organic foods. Those same products made by natural means are known as organic. Now with the increase in GMO production, organic plants have traces of GMOs in them. “As a result, most organic corn in the U.S. typically contains anywhere from half a percent to two percent GMOs” (Dan Charles). Knowing this, many consumers might think twice before purchasing “organic” products.

At the end of the day, it comes down to the consumer’s knowledge of the products they are putting on their tables for dinner. For example, cows that eat GMO food are more likely to have traces on GMOs in their milk and other byproducts. Although companies can still consider these products to be organic, there is still a chance that the produce will not be one hundred percent pure. One cannot truly blame the companies and distributers for falsifying the label if the GMO count was out of their hands. It may seem like the farmers are just trying to get more money for the products they are producing, but they may not even know their products contain these GMOs.

In the end, who truly is to blame? No single one entity holds the responsibility for GMOs in organic foods.

23 thoughts on “GMO?

  1. I’m not sure I agree with your assertion that “no one can really put a label” on organic and GMO foods. In this country and in others, there are standards for earning the organic label — the problem is oversight. A greater commitment to making sure the rules are being followed would make the labels more meaningful. However, the articles that you reference show how complicated the problem of oversight is. A romantic notion of organic food among consumers allows lapses in oversight to continue. People think that the organic food is grown or produced on a happy little farm by a farmer who wears overalls and a straw hat, and who packs up his truck each week and drives it to the local supermarkets where people buy their food. The reality is that much organic food is produced within the same framework as conventional food. With so much volume and so many distribution points, it’s easy to see how organic food becomes “tainted,” especially animal products which rely on organic feed and such to justify the organic label.

    Romantic views of the industry are really just uninformed ones. If we inform the public, then they can have realistic expectations as well as reliable information with which to make decisions that might include galvanizing for policy change.The food industry strikes me as a very cynical one. Just last week, the news was all over the blogosphere that many agricultural states have passed or are seeking to pass legislation that makes it illegal to photograph farms without permission — essentially silencing “whistleblowers” who call our attention to disgusting and inhumane practices. It seems to me that the forces of big agricultural business don’t believe consumers have the right to know where their food comes from — and I disagree with THAT more than anything.

  2. Here’s an article on “Ag-gag” bills and their possible deleterious effects: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/03/how-state-ag-gag-laws-could-stop-animal-cruelty-whistleblowers/273962/.
    How cynical is this comment? : “So our animals can’t turn around for the 2.5 years that they are in the stalls producing piglets,” remarked a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council. “I don’t know who asked the sow if she wanted to turn around …. The only real measure of their well-being we have is the number of piglets per birth, and that’s at an all-time high.” Revolting.

  3. I agree on this point. Big food corporations put so much artifical preservatives into the crop as well as the finished product and they don’t care how unhealthy it all is. To them, as long as it speeds up the creation process and makes more money, they don’t care what it does to anyone else. But then again, that’s how America runs. God bless capitalism.

  4. My aunt would really appreciate this article. She obsesses over organic foods and will only choose to eat it if it is organic. I understand the positive and how good it is for the body, but is there really a difference? Most people would say so after reading this article I’m pretty undecided, to be honest.

    • I still say organic is better than conventional in most cases, although it depends on what you’re buying and what “statement” you’re trying to make. If I have a choice of organic apples from New Zealand or “regular” apples from a local farmer at my town farmers’ market, I’ll probably pick the local apples. In that scenario, I can ask the farmer directly about his/her practices and decide.

  5. I find this topic both interesting and controversial. It really makes me think about organic food. Is it really organic? Are the stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods living up to their high standard organic foods?

  6. I think that GMO is a very interesting topic. Because there is such a high demand for food, there is a high demand for plants that can produce a good amount, but that will also be hardy enough to survive in our climates. The FDA doesn’t require food manufacturers to label whether or not they use GMO, so when a person buys processed foods, they really don’t know what theyre getting.

  7. i find the topic of GMO very interesting. it made me think more about how food corporations don’t really care about the products that they put into the foods we are consuming, they just care about making profit off of it.

  8. I think this topic is very interesting and confusing. I think you should add something about what can we do to separate the organic from the GMO. Why do GMO’s keep infecting the organic if it is supposed to be organic?

  9. This is a really good point. Who really can make the final decision about whether or not a product is organic? I never though about the cows that produce said “organic” milk being fed foods with GMO’s. I just kind of assumed that the product itself was organic, I never considered whether or not the source was organic.

  10. GMO’s is an interesting topic. I wrote about this is my Organic Food research paper. I think what this article describes is the best way to look at it. It is the truth. After writing about Organic foods and learning about GMO’s it has really shaped the way I look at the food corporations.

  11. This article brings up an interesting topic reagarding GMOs in organic food. If farmer’s know that the presence of GMO is in their crop, they can easily not report that it is in their crop, disguising a non organic product as organic and fooling the customers. I do not believe that it is the custmer’s responsibility to know if what they are buying contains GMOs, as companies are hiding the fact that GMOs are in their organic foods.

  12. Companies who have GMO’s in their product could be keeping the truth from their consumers by saying their product is “organic”, but honestly, I’m not really sure who’s fault this actually is. The farmers could be hiding the truth from the companies who purchase their products who then sell it to us. Also it could be both of their faults simply because the FDA doesn’t require companies to state if they have GMO’s in their product or not, and they want to keep their brand name “organic”.

    • Part of the problem is the enormous power of the biotech industry (right here in Massachusetts) and the food industry lobby. Without legislators with the gumption to take on this issue, consumers will continue to have questions.

  13. I know literally nothing about organic foods but it is a good point that cows and other animals being used to to make said organic foods might be fed or have other products used on them that use harsh chemicals and other non organic materials in the process of making these “Organic” foods.

  14. Im not really informed on organic foods and the process behind choosing which foods are organic or not. This article helped me get a better understanding but I realize that getting food that it truly 100% Organic is very hard and you have to be more cautious with the labels.

  15. I feel that it really its difficult to tell whether or not food is organic. If its grown on an organic farm but then shipped thousands of miles, that isn’t very organic in the sense that your releasing CO2 into the atmosphere to transport the food. So you have the choice between consuming pesticides or contributing to global warming. It’s a vicious cycle.

    • Fortunately, there is another solution to the problem, Amy. Instead of buying your fruits and vegetables at a super market, some local farms actually participate in CSA’s. You pay a certain fee for the year/growing season, and each week, during harvesting, you can either go to the local farm and pick up your basket of produce or some farms may deliver. By investing your money in local farms, you reduce the amount of CO2 emissions caused by long-distance transportation, you can often speak with the farmers about the methods used to farm, and you will know whether or not pesticides/GMOs were used.

  16. GMOs are a huge part of the average American’s daily diet. The following article shows just how much Monsanto (a company leading in GMO food, and who also just happened to have legislation passed that prevented them from having to report if the food was genetically modified) actually produces. http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2009-11-29/business/36895679_1_monsanto-herbicide-obama-administration You read that right: “Ninety-three percent of soybeans. Eighty percent of corn.” All those “healthy” foods people are encouraged to eat: soy milk, tofu, etc., could most likely contain GMOs. It would be hard to escape the 93%. Also, an interesting fact is that Monsanto, GMO leader of the world, was derived by a PHARMACEUTICAL company. Kind of suspicious, right? We may only hear of the “bigger” and “better” crops that GMOs produce, but genetic modification is much more than that. Recently in the news, sheep had been genetically modified to glow-in-the-dark (I could not find the link). That is not natural, and not healthy. If they can make sheep glow in the dark through genetic modification, imagine what can occur through people eating genetically modified food. Our politicians are condoning these actions, too, through the Monsanto Protection Act! With our government supporting these huge corporations and pharmaceutical companies, we are setting ourselves up for more sickness and suffering in the future.

  17. I am against GMO’s only because it’s not a natural part of the humans diet, per say. It surprises me that “Although companies can still consider these products to be organic, there is still a chance that the produce will not be one hundred percent pure.” What’s the point of checking foods for GMO’s if they are going to let food with little to no GMO’s in them.

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