Genetically Modified Organisms


Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be present in many processed foods, especially those containing conventionally-grown soy, corn and canola products. Some produce may also be genetically modified. In general, in the U.S. such foods are not labeled as containing GMOs. Even stores that specialize in "natural" or "organic" foods, such as the Davis Food Co-op, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods Market sell some products containing GMOs. However, Whole Foods has promised to label genetically engineered ingredients in its American and Canadian stores by 2018. Also, several local stores (Davis Food Co-op, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's) have signed on to the [WWW]Friends of the Earth Pledge for GE-Free Seafood, which asks grocers to commit to the following: "It is our policy to not knowingly purchase or sell genetically engineered (GE) salmon or other GE seafood, should it come to market."

Davis is the historic birthplace of the commercial GMO! The first modern GMO to be put on the food market was the Flavr Savr Tomato created by the Davis-based Calgene LLC. Calgene was later bought out by GMO giant Monsanto which continues its operations in Davis and Woodland to this day.

Davis was also the literal breeding ground for the first square tomato, but this was created well before the development of modern gene manipulation techniques.

There is a [WWW]ballot initiative campaign to label GM foods in California, with a local group that meets in Davis every Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. in the clubhouse at Eleanor Roosevelt Circle, 675 Cantrill Drive. They collected signatures at the Davis Farmers Market. Combined with statewide efforts, enough signatures were gathered to officially create Proposition 37, which will be put to the vote on November 6, 2012. The Occupy Monsanto movement will once again protest the Davis location on September 17th, in large part to draw awareness to the proposition.

See also: Biotechnology

Local Media


(Much of this discussion began on the Whole Foods Market page and was moved from there).

It is interesting to note that humans have been genetically modifying foods for thousands of years through selective breeding. Some people have ethical concerns about the more advanced direct molecular modification that can be used today.

There's so much more to GMO's than just herbicide resistance. I absolutely hate it when Monsanto becomes the focus of agricultural biotech or it focuses on herbicide resistance. I truly believe GM is the future. People always think of plants and meats, but bacterial-produced goods!! There is so much research in trying to rewire bacteria to be able to create compounds, chemicals, drugs, food products that we'd want to harvest. People eat fermented products all the time, but what about if those bacteria and yeasts were modified to do more? Add some more nutrients, proteins, etc. Also, again, think beyond herbicide resistance. [wiki]Golden Rice! How long have we all been waiting for it to go public? (BTW, a study from UCD published in Science [WWW]newsroom article found that it did also reduce pesticide usage, but that wasn't the point: it was to fortify a staple food). I can only dream of what'll be available and done 100 years from now. Recombinant DNA wasn't published until 72/73. The fish tomato thing was from the late 80's, and they asked for a field trial in 1991 (interestingly, in Contra Costa County). And that's the end of the story. The goal was to create a tomato that was more resistant to frost/freezing. Nothing came of it, other than it turning into an iconic strawman. They were using relatively new technology then. In 1990, the human genome project was expected to take 15 years. Sequencing was insane, crazy, and expensive. It's a lot simpler now, with new genomes being published all the time. Sequencing your own genome went from millions to hundreds of thousands to soon thousands. I can understand the wanting to regulate and mark GMO foods completely. I'm just opposed to trying to outright ban GMO's, because I think it's a stupid thing to do. Science advances with leaps and bounds, and to shut down a future avenue that has the potential to do so much good for this planet is stupid. And biotechnology really can be the future. /rant -ES

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