GMO food products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are seen by the government, not as foodstuffs, but as pesticides, and are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In its simplest form, GMO plants are altered at the cellular level to protect themselves against insects and pesticides. In the case of Monsanto’s NewLeaf potato, a gene signals the production of a toxin lethal to the Colorado potato beetle.
Industrial farming operations are largely monocultures; that is, the crops these operations farm are singular… corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton… the result of demand by food corporations for product that can be turned into familiar fast food products. If we’ve eaten McDonald’s fries (made largely from the Russet Burbank potato) in the past 10-15 years the likelihood is that we’ve eaten GMO potatoes. I wonder how many of us would elect to eat GMO foodstuffs, if we knew we were eating them.
There is no current labeling requirement for genetically modified food. What’s more concerning is that the regulation of GMO foods is voluntary; that is, it’s at the election of the owner of the GMO patent (e.g. Monsanto) whether to shed light on a potential safety concern. Corporations self-policing.
The genetically modified organism is the most critical topic in the American food system conversation.
The old adage of “We are what we eat” is given new and urgent importance.