Reading the Label: Frequently Asked Questions about GMOs


Many of your questions about GMOs will no longer be relevant if you read this article.

Question: How do you know if food is made from genetically modified crops?

Answer: If the food you buy, such as soybean oil, is pressed from a genetically modified crop, but the oil itself does not contain any genetic material, then there will be no mention of genetically modified organisms on the oil label. However, if you are buying sprouted soybeans made from GM soybeans and the GM material is present (and in this case it will be), then the label should tell you that.

Question: Suppose I buy cheese, and the rennet (an enzyme that causes milk to separate into a solid curd and watery whey) used to make it has been genetically modified. Will this be written on the label of the cheese?

Answer: Not. The cheese maker is not required to tell you that the rennet used to make the cheese is genetically modified.

Question: How do I know if the cow I buy milk from has been fed GM crops?

Answer: You never know. Also, you will not know if the lambs and cows whose meat you buy have been fed with genetically modified cultures; and you won’t know if the chickens you buy eggs from have been fed GM food.

Question: Are there food products that may contain genetically modified material, without indicating this fact on the label?

Answer: Yes. For maize and soybeans, it is permissible not to indicate information on the content of genetically modified material on the label if it contains no more than 1%.

Question: How do I know if the food I buy from cafes, fast food outlets or restaurants contains genetically modified material?

Answer: Currently, the legislation provides for the need to inform the consumer about the presence of genetically modified material in the food product before the purchase of this product. The exact rules are now being worked out at the level of the European Union.


Brief conclusions about GMOs

  • Genetic modification is a relatively new area, so at this stage it is almost impossible to make a final decision. Scientists are still studying whether genetically modified foods (GMOs) have side effects in the long run, how harmful or beneficial they can be.
  • Detailed legislation is currently being developed in Europe to regulate the use of genetically modified foods (GMOs). Until these laws go into effect, always carefully check the information on the label. And if you want to avoid eating genetically modified foods, it’s best to choose foods that you know are good.

Reading the Label: Genetically Modified Foods

Source: Adapted from How to Read Labels by Amanda Ursell

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