OMG, GMO! When we contacted the companies that made these groovy, natural foods, all said their products contained or may contain genetically modified ingredients.
I'm wandering the aisles of Central Co-op, a natural foods market on Capitol Hill, checking its shelves for genetically engineered foods. Once you know what to look for, it turns out those ingredients are everywhere—even here, among the fake meats and packages covered in leafy art, smiling animals, and hand-lettering. They're in the whole-grain bread, in the veggie burgers, in the peanut-free soy nut butter. You can't always tell from friendly labels—"100% natural," "multi-grain," "fair trade." But you may be able to tell soon.
Washington State will be voting in November on Initiative 522, which would require food made with genetically engineered ingredients (also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs) to be labeled as such at the retail level.
When I set out to research the initiative, I thought I'd end up with a clear and obvious answer about how I felt about it—and what the science says. I was wrong.
I was raised on organic produce, bulk-bin grains, and peanut butter you had to crank by hand; these food-labeling people are my people. But I still wanted to see hard science that backs up the squick factor of vegetables birthed in a petri dish. I wanted studies I could point to, something I could wave around and say, "Here! Here is incontrovertible proof that GMOs are evil! Their curse will last for generations and our grandkids will have four noses, and here, have some organic hummus." But the smoking gun just isn't there. Not that the anti-labeling side is all that convincing, either.