The Potential of Food Labels

Today, about 80% of the food that are processed and bought by the consumers are genetically modified, or known as GMOs (Hemphill). As food technology and nutirion science advance and companies seek profit over nutrition in the food, clear food labeling is no longer there for the people to understand what is in the food that they are eating everyday. The GMOs are products that are made by the scientists who are experts in this field, and it is difficult for those who are not as educated as them to understand how modified foods are made and composed of. Even though it may be difficult to get rid of GMOs due to increase in number of companies that profit off of GMOs, the regulators and companies should label and inform about the GMOs in their product with easier descriptions that many could easily understand what is inside their food.

GMOs are known to cause many health problems in our body. According to an article, “Spilling the Beans: Unintended GMO Health Risks,” the rats were fed with Bt corn, which is a genetically modified corn, for up to 120 days. The result was that the rats developed myriads of health problems such as changes in blood cells, kidneys, and livers (Smith). Likewise, a study shown in an article “Arpad Pusztai and the risks of Genetic Engineering,” DNA of soybeans were altered with a gene from Brazil nuts. While after, scientists saw that those modified beans were altered to cause allergic reactions. These genetically modified foods are hard for us to evaluate due to lack of knowledge on them. However, easy-to-understand descriptions and clear labeling would help consumers to be aware of what they are eating and know how consuming the product can impact their health, helping them to make better food choices. 

The current problem of labeling food product is that big companies have too much power over the regulations with their immense money. An example can be seen in lobbying process by Monsanto, the largest seed corporations in the world. This company produces seeds that are genetically modified in way that the seeds resist herbicides and weed killers. When the citizens try to protest or take action against the GMOs that they are making, Monsanto prevents any laws from passing by paying immense money to the lobbyists. This corporation is said to spend an average of six billion dollars on lobbying every year (Sarich). If their modified products are as safe as they say they are, corporations like Monsanto should not be afraid of labeling their products. And by adding these labels, it would make consumers should feel safer as some may feel cautious of eating GMOs. Even though labeling more on the products may cost more money for the companies, it should be regulated as spending on lobbying costs a lot of money as well, and companies should know that trust from the consumer is a big factor that will make their business more successful and sustainable.

It can be overwhelming to think about the corruption of our government and big businesses that only revolve around making a profit. But we need to take time to learn and look deeper into how things are regulated and what we are eating on daily basis. We need to realize these hidden facts that the big companies are hiding and fix it for the sustainable food system and future generations to come.

Edward Choi


1.Hemphill, Thomas A., and Syagnik Banerjee. “Mandatory Food Labeling For Gmos.” Regulation 37.4 (2014): 7-10. Business Source Premier. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

2.Smith, Jeffrey . “Spilling the Beans: Unintended GMO Health Risks.” Organic Consumers. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr 2013.

3.Sarich, Christina. “The 10 Companies Controlling the World’s Seed Supply.”Nation of Change.   N.p., 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

4.Fig.1. GMO Bell Pepper Injection. http://www.naturalnews.com/052550_Venezuela_GMOs_Seed_Law.html#

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An Issue of Corn Production

Most people would perceive corn as a delicious side dish, however, a lot of people don’t realize that it’s in the majority of the food we eat and everything in between. These include items from breakfast cereals to medicine. The documentary Food, Inc., produced by Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein, examines a deeper look into the issues surrounding our food system. The film stated that because farmers are paid to overproduce corn, 30% of land base in the United States is used to plant this crop due to government policy. It stated that an estimate of 90% of processed food products in the grocery store either contain a corn or soybean ingredient, and most of the time both (Food, Inc.). The film also stated that due to the overproduction of corn, food scientist came up with uses for it, which resulted in an abundant amount of foods containing corn in some way, such as high-fructose corn syrup.

This leads to the issue of having GMO (Genetically modified organisms) foods, which is food created in a lab that modifies genetic material of a plant or animal. According to the website Consumer Reports, from the article “GMO foods: What you need to know,” foods made with canola oil, corn, or soy often contain GMOs. Many have argued that GMO enhanced foods should be labeled, and some have gone to argue that people have been eating these modified foods for years and there’s no evidence of people being harmed, however, as stated in the article, just saying there’s no evidence of harm isn’t proving it’s safe. In 2016, Caitlin Shetterly, an investigative journalist, described in Elle magazine of a mysterious illness she developed that stopped after she quit eating certain foods containing corn, from which her doctor later suggested she was allergic to a protein in genetically modified corn (Lantz). Eating corn-based foods continuously could cause health problems, and corn production can affect the environment as well.

In 2013, John Bauer, co-founder of a company called The Foodery in Boston, talked of three downsides through dependence of corn. The first is how continuous consumption of corn-based products could result in diabetes and obesity (Bauer). Bauer stated the second downside is eating corn and it’s many derivatives, they are consuming a substance that’s been contaminated with pesticides and which has been Genetically Modified. The third downside is how corn production could bring environmental damage to soil, water, and air (Bauer). Bauer says that due to corn contributing to feeding livestock, supplying these industries with acreage of corn won’t last forever, and years of pesticide usage can ruin soil, waters can get contaminated, and digestive problems of cattle through grain consumption can result in methane emissions. Altogether, we should have the right to know what goes into making our food, and it’s an issue we should be making more people aware of. It’s shocking to find corn in a majority of things. They as producers shouldn’t be hiding anything from us consumers when it comes down to the food we eat.

Lauren Shelby


  1. Bauer, John. “Corn Is Everywhere.” The Foodery. August 20, 2013. Accessed April 18, 2017. http://fooderyboston.com/corn-is-everywhere/.
  2. Food, Inc. By Robert Kenner, Robert Kenner, Robert Kenner, Richard Pearce, Eric Schlosser, Eric Schlosser, Melissa Robledo, William Pohlad, Jeff Skoll, Robin Schorr, Diane Weyermann, Elise Pearlstein, Elise Pearlstein, Kim Roberts, Kim Roberts, Michael Pollan, Michael Pollan, Gary Hirshberg, Joel Salatin, and Mark Adler. Directed by Richard Pearce. Performed by Robert Kenner . Los Angeles, CA: Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2008. DVD.
  3. “GMO foods: What you need to know.” GMO Foods: What You Need to Know – Consumer Reports Magazine. February 26, 2015. Accessed April 18, 2017. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/02/gmo-foods-what-you-need-to-know/index.htm.
  4. Lantz, Catherine. 2016. “Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food, Our Land, Our Future.” Library Journal 141 (13). Media Source, Inc.: 113–19. https://ezproxy.southern.edu/login?qurl=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ebscohost.com%2Flogin.aspx%3Fdirect%3Dtrue%26db%3Da9h%26AN%3D117112774%26site%3Dehost-live%26scope%3Dsite.
  5. Fig 1. Corn-field. http://inhabitat.com/study-shows-corn-fields-creeping-into-untouched-grasslands-to-meet-ethanol-fuel-demand/.

Secrets​ of the Cornfield

In America, the idea of having a choice on what we eat is usually expected. The problem with this is that most of the foods we eat are a lot more limited than we think. In fact, most of the products you will find in the U.S contain the same couple of ingredients. Consumers are being tricked into thinking they have a long list of choices when they may only have one or two. With this, some may argue if consumers want to know what is in their food, they should be responsible for doing so. While this statement could be thought of as correct because food producers not only hide what their ingredients are, the unsustainable process of which these products are made should support the argument that we as humans have the right to know what is in our food.

When it comes to producing our food, companies will use ingredients that are both cheaper and faster to produce. And with doing this we get the vegetable, corn, being thrown into everything we eat because it is both easy and cheap to produce. According to Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences, Dr. Jonathan Foley, food producers are molding corn into an array of different unhealthy ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and even citric acid. Author Michael Pollen spoke in the documentary Food Inc. of how farmers are even feeding cows corn to make them bulkier faster, and because of this our meat suffers greatly. Pollen says, “Cows are not designed by evolution to eat corn, cows are designed by evolution to eat grass.” Because these cows are eating something that they were not designed to eat, the deadly bacterium E Coli 0157:h7 starts to form in their stomachs (Food Inc.). Being in tight corners these cows will stand in their feces all day. Giving food producers no real way to keep the bacteria from leaving our meat (Food Inc.). This showing that food companies are not only putting fattening products in our food without us knowing, but they are also feeding us products that could seriously hurt our health.

Companies are trying their hardest to give us food that is cheap for them to produce, and in turn, they are giving us ingredients that are jeopardizing our health. According to Trace One Manager Chris Morrison, a survey found that about 33% of consumers said they would be willing to pay for information on their food. Morrison stating, “Transparency matters and many consumers are willing to pay for it.” Due to the overwhelming facts, research, and this idea alone, I feel it is safe to say that we as humans have the right to know clearly what is in our food.

Summer Shelby

 


 

  1. “Consumers Want to Know More About Where the Ingredients for Their Food Come From.” Food Manufacturing. March 31, 2016. Accessed April 18, 2017. http://www.foodmanufacturing.com/article/2016/03/consumers-want-know-more-about-where-ingredients-their-food-come.
  1. Foley, Jonathan. “It’s Time to Rethink America’s Corn System.” Scientific American. March 05, 2013. Accessed April 18, 2017. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/time-to-rethink-corn/.
  1. Food, Inc.By Robert Kenner, Robert Kenner, Robert Kenner, Richard Pearce, Eric Schlosser, Eric Schlosser, Melissa Robledo, William Pohlad, Jeff Skoll, Robin Schorr, Diane Weyermann, Elise Pearlstein, Elise Pearlstein, Kim Roberts, Kim Roberts, Michael Pollan, Michael Pollan, Gary Hirshberg, Joel Salatin, and Mark Adler. Directed by Richard Pearce. 2008.

 

Corrupted Industry

Over the years, food companies have modified the process of growing and making food in order to increase the quantity of production of their products. They traded in quality for quantity, disregarding what goes into the food consumers eat. Due to the large amount of chemicals food has to go through, businesses and lobbies take extreme measures to avoid detailed labels and warnings on their food  in order to protect the image of their product, food companies should not have the power to decide what information should be put out to the public, consumers have the right to know what exactly is in their food and why businesses go to extreme measures to keep a clean image.

    Food companies are more worried about increasing production and profit rather than the actual quality of the food. Corporations increase profit by using lower- cost ingredients, according to research done by Mike Adams, a founder and owner of Natural News, food manufactures deceive consumers by hiding dangerous ingredients behind innocent sounding names. Food companies also increase their earning by minimizing labor cost which create poor working conditions. Not only are the workers being maltreated, but so are the animals. The food industry also maximizes profit by curtailing the competition. Big brand food companies such as Tyson Foods, control nearly the entire food industry and the food we eat, meaning that the harmful food produced by these companies are distributed all across America. The food industry is one of the most affluent industries in the world, it is no surprise that they are willing to go through extreme measure to maximize and protect their profit.

Due to the harsh chemicals and inhumane production system that companies use to make food, businesses and lobbies are taking extreme measures to protect the image of their product. The food industry does not want the public to know what exactly is in their food, or how it is made. This raises suspicion among the violation of various health codes.  Because nothing major has been done to enforce food companies to produce quality food, it seems that the government’s food regulations are in favor of the companies rather the benediction of consumers. The government has also made it more accessible for food companies to sue critics. Something that many health code inspectors find skeptical is that the government has laws that mandate food labeling describing nutrition date, ingredients and allergy information, however the food industry creates confrontation when these laws are implemented. The food industry has created a veil to obscure the reality behind their production, creating a blind eye among consumers.

The disturbing  practices of the food industry have begun to create a wave of people advocating for the truth. There are many ways to promote a change in the food industry, this can be accomplished by investigating and advocating organizations that fight against these practices. Raising awareness against these malpractices can help uncover the truth and conceivably influence the food industry to modify their ingredients and working condition to create a safe haven for all.

                                                                                                                                    – Arely Ambriz 


1. “How food manufacturers trick consumers with deceptive ingredients lists.” NaturalNews. Accessed April 18, 2017. http://www.naturalnews.com/021929_groceries_food_products.html.
 2. Fig. 1. Under the table corruption. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-vogl/trade-trumps-anticorrupti_b_6075936.html