Got a Question About GMOs? Just Ask Monsanto

Looking for information about the safety of GMOs? If you surf your way over, you might get some pretty startling information. That's because it's a site run by the Council for Biotechnology Information. Its members include the biggest biotech corporations: Monsanto, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer CropScience and BASF.

The site was designed to better communicate about GMOs, something the biotech industry hasn't been doing, Cathleen Enright, executive director of the Council for Biotechnology Information, told the New York Times. "We want to get into the conversation.”

Read more about the risks of GMOs

GMOAnswers comes just as consumer concern over the technology is hitting a boiling point. In May the worldwide March Against Monsanto happened, sending millions to the streets in more than 250 cities around the world. Campaigns and organizations have begun to focus heavily on GMO awareness. Brands are being called out and targeted in class action lawsuits over use of GMOs. Some websites even offer free stickers you can download, take to your local supermarket and conspicuously place on products to let shoppers know their favorite brands "may contain genetically modified ingredients."

Both Connecticut and Maine have passed conditional GMO labeling bills and pressure is on the FDA to regulate GMOs. A move to label GMOs would put the U.S. on par with the rest of the developed countries in the world, including all of the EU member states.

Monsanto recently announced it was "withdrawing" efforts to get most of its GMO crops approved in the EU as interest in GMOs is low and concerns are high throughout the region. India is moving towards a country-wide ban, and where GMOs are sold elsewhere around the globe, they often require labeling. But the industry does its best to thwart labeling efforts in the U.S. despite complying in the rest of the world.

Read more about GMO labeling

California, which was poised to become the first state with a GMO labeling law last November, saw it narrowly defeated by aggressive efforts from the opposition. Funded mostly by the members of the Council for Biotechnology Information, the group avoided addressing the real issue, and instead called it the "costly food labeling bill," misrepresenting the issue and inflating the estimated costs to taxpayers (which, if other countries are any indicator, is closer to zero).

The council insists that labeling is a bad idea because it could frighten customers away from GMOs, a technology its members insist is completely safe. While the FDA has said genetically altered foods are no different than their natural counterparts, the World Health Organization defines GMOs as not naturally occurring.

Without any long term studies on GMOs and exposure to the pesticides and herbicides that must be used on them—it's difficult to tell what the effects are on humans or the environment. It's the main argument for labeling by anti-GMO activists. And the GMOAnswers website says it will disprove any myths or misconceptions through publishing the results of studies and relying on expert opinions from scientists, nutritionists, farmers and other industry-paid experts.

“We have been accused of purposely hiding information,” Ms. Enright told the Times. “We haven’t done that but now we will open the doors and provide information.”

Image: amanky

By Jill Ettinger| July 31, 2013
Categories:  Eat

About the Author

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a freelance journalist and marketing specialist primarily focused on the organic and natural industries, she bridges her love for changing the food system with her lifelong passion for writing and connecting people in their shared values. You can connect with Jill on Twitter and Instagram.

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