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299870 (http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtPrint/EMIHC000/333/7228/299870.html?k

The Bt corn found in the recent Taco Bell industry kills monarch butterflies & is undigestible by humans.  Although most people believe in GM labeling of food, the contents & context of labeling seems to be what has stagnated the end result.
Cyndy Ross
SLLC Organic Community Garden
Sylvan Lake Lutheran Church
2399 Figa Avenue
W. Bloomfield, MI 48324-1808
zone 6A
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Do Genetically Modified Foods Permeate The Supermarket?

Associated Press
October 9, 2000

ALBANY, N.Y. (Hearst News Service) - Most foods, from fruit to meat to wheat germ, are loaded with DNA. It is the stuff of life, and the stuff of technology that has brought genetically engineered foods to the dinner table.

Unlike checking for fat or sodium content, consumers can't tell from a label if a food contains genetically altered ingredients.

The possibly unauthorized presence of genetically engineered corn in store-bought taco shells recently raised consumer awareness about whether the food we eat is genetically manipulated - and whether we should care.

Kraft Foods two weeks ago voluntarily recalled Taco Bell Home Originals taco shells after an environmental group said that they contained a genetically engineered corn approved only for livestock. The corn contains bacteria - Bacillus thuringienis - that produce a protein that acts as a pesticide.

For advocacy groups, the alarm has been sounded. "Unless the federal government and corporations employ safety and environmental testing - mandatory safety and environmental testing - labeling so people know what they're eating and corporate liability for any harm, genetically engineered food should not be on the market," said Larry Bohlen, of Friends of the Earth, part of the Genetically Engineered Food Alert coalition. In late September the coalition released the test results on the taco shells, triggering the recall.

A Cornell University food safety expert said, depending on definition, almost all foods could end up labeled as genetically engineered, which would inform no one.

Biotechnology also offers potential benefits, such as developing more nutritious foods to ward off starvation and disease.

The possibilities of genetic engineering are comparable to another technology that has become a modern-day convenience: electricity. Electricity carries risk, but "we don't throw away electricity, we try to make it better," said Joseph H. Hotchkiss, Cornell University professor of food safety and technology.

In reality, the marketplace holds a wide variety of foods that have been genetically engineered - that, is, holding a gene transferred from one organism to another to improve disease-resistance, yield, nutritional value or taste. Think of genetic engineering as the super-fast, specific version of conventional breeding, which has allowed, for instance, the average 1,200-pound cow to produce almost three times more milk than it would have 30 years ago.

According to information provided by The Alliance for Better Foods, with members like the American Dietetic Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation, biotechnology varieties last year accounted for 55 percent of soybean crops and 36 percent of corn crops produced in the United States.

Sweet, seedless mini-peppers, high-oleic peanut and sunflower products and disease-resistant potatoes are on store shelves. Consumer Reports last fall reported the presence of genetically engineered ingredients in common products like Ovaltine, Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix and three brands of powdered infant formula.

Shoppers did not know then, nor would they know now, which products in their grocery cart contain genetically altered ingredients.

"The challenge from the retail point of view is, we don't know if products contain any bioengineered ingredients," said Joanne R. Gage, vice president of consumer and marketing services at Price Chopper. "Our company has adopted a policy to support the labeling of bioengineered food just so consumers can know and make a choice, so we have a way of knowing."

Gage added: "The real question is, how much should they be regulated?"

In fact, the Food and Drug Administration does regulate foods derived from biotechnology; under the rules, companies due to market a product are asked to consult with the FDA, and labeling is required if biotechnology significantly alters the composition or nutritional value of the food.

The FDA plans to revamp those rules, making it mandatory for companies to notify the FDA of newly developed products 120 days before marketing. Labeling, to indicate which foods include genetically engineered ingredients, would be voluntary.

(The FDA said it is conducting an investigation of the possible presence of the modified corn in the recalled taco shells, but a spokesperson was unavailable to discuss in detail the agency's approach to bioengineered foods.)

Bohlen, of Friends of the Earth, called the proposed rules a "let's-have-lunch-with-industry policy." and the planned voluntary labeling "misguided, because so many people want labeling."

Hotchkiss, of Cornell, worries more about zealous rule-making than health effects at present. Derivatives of soy, a major U.S. crop, are used to make oil, soy milk and products like vegetarian burgers. Oil is extracted without DNA-rich protein, which would burn in cooking.

"Soy bean oil is used to make salad dressing, mayonnaise, it's added to hundreds of products. If you define it that way, we could get up into hundreds of products. On the other hand, if you put a much more narrow definition, that you have to consume the genetically modified DNA, then the number of products that contain the genetically modified protein would be much smaller."

Copyright 2000 Hearst News Service. All rights reserved.

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