WBEZ | GMO http://www.wbez.org/tags/gmo Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en How food gets the 'Non-GMO' label http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/how-food-gets-non-gmo-label-111423 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/gmo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Demand for products that don&#39;t contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, is exploding.</p><p>And now many food companies are seeking certification for products that don&#39;t have any genetically modified ingredients, and not just the brands popular in the health food aisle. Even <a href="http://harvestpublicmedia.org/content/original-cheerios-now-free-gmo-ingredients#.VJBo8zHF_pU">Cheerios</a>, that iconic cereal from General Mills, no longer contains GMOs.</p><p>&quot;We currently are at over $8.5 billion in annual sales of verified products,&quot; says Megan Westgate, executive director of the <a href="http://www.nongmoproject.org/">Non GMO Project</a>, an independent organization that verifies products.</p><p>To receive the <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/28/283460420/why-the-non-gmo-label-is-organic-s-frenemy">label</a>, a product has to be certified as containing ingredients with less than 1 percent genetic modification. Westgate says that&#39;s a realistic standard, while totally GMO-free is not. She says natural foods stores began the process of defining a standard, involving other interested players along the way, including consumers. Now, General Mills is just one of the big food companies selling non-GMO products.</p><p>Sales of food labeled as non-GMO ballooned to over $3 billion in 2013, <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-gmo-fight-ripples-down-the-food-chain-1407465378">according</a> to <em>The Wall Street Journal.</em></p><p>&quot;Interestingly, with all of this traction in the natural sector,&quot; Westgate says, &quot;we&#39;re increasingly seeing more conventional companies coming on board and having their products verified.&quot;</p><p>But how does a company get into the non-GMO game? They might call <a href="http://www.foodchainid.com/">FoodChain ID</a>, a company in Fairfield, Iowa, that can shepherd a firm through the process. It&#39;s one of the third-party auditors that certifies products for the Non-GMO Project.</p><p>&quot;We start looking at ingredients, and we identify what are all the ingredients,&quot; says David Carter, FoodChain ID&#39;s general manager. &quot;And of course, the label itself doesn&#39;t always identify all of those. So we need to be sure that we have a list of all the processing aids, the carriers and all the inputs that go into a product.&quot;</p><p>Next, FoodChain ID figures out where each ingredient and input came from. If there&#39;s honey in cookies, for example, the company will have to show that the bees that make the honey aren&#39;t feeding near genetically modified corn. When there&#39;s even the smallest risk that an ingredient could contain a modified gene, DNA testing is in order.</p><p>FoodChain ID has a lab where a machine can extract the DNA from ingredient samples in order to analyze it. If that test finds no evidence of GMOs, the ingredient can go in the cookies. Carter says he can barely keep up with the number of inquiries coming in from companies that want certification.</p><p>&quot;The demand is now very, very high, and it has been for probably over a year in particular,&quot; Carter says.</p><p>To date, FoodChain ID says it has verified 17,000 ingredients from 10,000 suppliers in 96 countries.</p><p>It may take hundreds of dollars for some products to get a non-GMO label, depending on how many ingredients are already verified as being GMO-free and how many are not.</p><p>But even with the rising demand, non-GMO products make up a small fraction of the marketplace. More than <a href="http://harvestpublicmedia.org/content/acres-genetically-modified-corn-nearly-doubled-decade#.VJBlbTHF_pU">90 percent</a> of corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. contains genetically modified traits. And those two crops are ubiquitous in processed foods like packaged cookies. Still, if the current trend continues, it seems likely that more farmers will consider planting non-GMO crops.</p><p>Various companies sell non-GMO seeds, but they can be more difficult to find. Plant breeder Alix Paez hopes his central Iowa seed company, Genetic Enterprises International, can help fill that market niche.</p><p>&quot;We are a very small company,&quot; Paez says &quot;so our strategy is to find niche markets for farmers that are looking for non-GMO products.&quot;</p><p>Farmers pay a premium for seeds that are genetically modified to withstand pests, or <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/01/24/265687251/soil-weedkillers-and-gmos-when-numbers-don-t-tell-the-whole-story">engineered</a> to tolerate popular herbicides, making it easier for farmers to use those chemicals to kill weeds. Paez and his wife, Mary Jane, hope to develop seeds than can achieve the same yields without those expensive, patented traits. This past season, they grew test plots on a farm in Boone County, Iowa, which they harvested this fall with an ancient red Massey Ferguson combine.</p><p>Paez studies the effectiveness of each hybrid seed variety. It&#39;s slow and meticulous work. But the careful data collection is key to determining whether a new, non-GMO hybrid can be competitive in the marketplace.</p><p>&quot;One of the main things is yield,&quot; Paez says. &quot;Stand-ability, consistent performance, disease tolerance &mdash; things like that.&quot;</p><p>If these seeds make the grade, farmers could potentially save some money. And their grain might fetch a premium, especially as demand for <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/26/283112526/chickens-laying-organic-eggs-eat-imported-food-and-its-pricey">non-GMO animal feed</a> grows. Because the only way to end up with non-GMO certified meat is to raise animals on non-GMO feed.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/01/20/378361539/how-your-food-gets-the-non-gmo-label" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s The Salt</a></em></p></p> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 12:04:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/how-food-gets-non-gmo-label-111423 Israeli housing in East Jerusalem http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-11-04/israeli-housing-east-jerusalem-111058 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP827734940232.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Last week Sweden recognized Palestine as a state. This week, the Israeli government approved plans to build new homes in East Jerusalem.Jeremy Ben-Ami, founder and president of J Street, joins us to discuss what the latest developments mean for the peace process.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-israel-s-development-in-east-jerusalem/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-israel-s-development-in-east-jerusalem.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-israel-s-development-in-east-jerusalem" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Israeli housing in East Jerusalem" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 11:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-11-04/israeli-housing-east-jerusalem-111058 Majority of Illinois crops are genetically engineered http://www.wbez.org/news/science/majority-illinois-crops-are-genetically-engineered-110458 <p><p>The recent rainfall in Illinois has provided some welcome relief for many farmers who worry that too much or too little moisture is tricky for corn and soybeans.</p><p>But farmers like Lin Warfel, a Central Illinois farmer who grows corn and soybeans in Tolono, may have found a solution.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m nearing the end of my tenure, this is my 52nd crop, so I&rsquo;m trying to simplify everything and the simple way and easy way to do it nowadays is just plain corn and plain soybeans. Both of which are GMO.&rdquo;</p><p>Warfel started using corn and soybeans that have been genetically modified, that means scientists have been able to identify and multiply the strongest and best genes.</p><p>He says he doesn&rsquo;t necessarily have to worry about the weather anymore and has seen a huge difference in his yield compared to the years before GMOs were around.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GMO-Corn_0.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 280px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Around 89 percent of corn in Illinois is grown from genetically engineered seeds, according to the Illinois Farm Bureau." />&ldquo;About 25 years ago, we had a drought and this was before current genetics. My corn that year yielded just over 100 bushels per acre. With the change in the genetics, it was only 155. It was 55 bushels better than my corn was earlier because of genetics.&rdquo;</p><p>According to the <a href="http://www.ilfb.org/">Illinois Farm Bureau</a>, 89 percent of corn in Illinois and 92 percent of soybeans are grown from genetically engineered seeds.</p><p>Warfel says GMO corn and soybeans are more likely to make it through harsh weather conditions.</p><p>&ldquo;It withstands too much moisture better or not enough moisture better. So, it&rsquo;s more productive, more consistently, than it used to be.&rdquo;</p><p>Warfel says using GMO crops also helps to reduce his bottom line. He spends less on fuel because he doesn&rsquo;t need to be out on the field twice cultivating it. He also employs fewer people because there&rsquo;s not as much work that needs to be done.</p><p>But not all farmers are on board with GMOs</p><p>Dave Bishop is the owner of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.prairierthfarm.com/PrairiErth_Farm/Homepage.html">Prairie Earth Farm.</a>&nbsp;His farm is also based in Central Illinois, but grows organic and conventional non-GMO produce including corn and soybeans.</p><p>&ldquo;I think there are better ways to address issues of pest resistance and weather changes to different kinds of crop rotation and cover crops. In my opinion, far better than genetically engineered crops.&rdquo;</p><p>Bishop says he doesn&rsquo;t believe the hype that GMOs are better at resisting drought or too much rain.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that conventional crops yield as well. They are more profitable in most cases, at least here we have a significant premium in the marketplace for non-gmo crops.&rdquo;</p><p>But, Illinois Department of Agriculture director Bob Flider says despite the significant crop devastation due to the drought of 2012, crops were <em>still </em>able to survive.</p><p>&ldquo;If you think about the drought that we had a couple of years ago, quite candidly it was probably the worst weather conditions that we&rsquo;ve had in Illinois ever, in terms of the heat and the dryness, but yet we still had a crop. If we hadn&rsquo;t have had those kinds of seeds and scientific research that could grow and develop a crop we might have had virtually nothing and that would have been a disaster.&rdquo;</p><p>Flider says as resources around the world continue to become depleted, it&rsquo;s important to support research and find ways to increase production in order to feed the growing population.</p><p>And that is a topic that pits the debate of good versus bad when it comes to the overall impact of GMOs.</p><p><em>Mariam Sobh is Midday Host and reporter at WBEZ Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/mariamsobh">@mariamsobh</a></em></p></p> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/majority-illinois-crops-are-genetically-engineered-110458 Morning Shift: What are your political peccadillos? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-18/morning-shift-what-are-your-political-peccadillos <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Capitol - Flickr - Teemu008.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We discuss Reboot Illinois, which allows people to voice their concerns regarding policy and lawmakers in Illinois. And, State Senator David Kohler explains how genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are being dealt with in your supermarket.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-67/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-67.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-67" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: What are your political peccadillos? " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 18 Sep 2013 08:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-18/morning-shift-what-are-your-political-peccadillos State senate bill mandates labels on genetically engineered food http://www.wbez.org/news/state-senate-bill-mandates-labels-genetically-engineered-food-108310 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/GM Foods 130807 AY_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A proposed Illinois senate bill aims to label all genetically engineered food. A hearing on the bill takes place this Wednesday in the southern Illinois town of Carbondale.</p><p>Emily Carroll of the advocacy group Food and Water Watch supports the bill..</p><p>&ldquo;This is not a ban, it&rsquo;s not about economics, it&rsquo;s not about science, this is just about the consumer&rsquo;s right to know,&rdquo; Carroll said. &ldquo;We can&rsquo;t track the effects of genetically engineered food because right now they aren&rsquo;t labelled. This is a huge public health experiment but without the information for people to actually know what they&rsquo;re eating.&rdquo;</p><p>The legislation won&rsquo;t address the merits or drawbacks of genetic engineering, says the sponsor of the bill, Senator David Koehler (D-Peoria). He says he&rsquo;ll leave that question to experts and scientists.</p><p>The last public hearing on the labelling bill is scheduled for September 17th in Chicago. Similar legislation earlier this summer passed in Maine and Connecticut, but failed in California last fall. More than 10 other states are considering labeling measures. In polls like these two, Americans support labelling genetically engineered food.</p><p>Back when the California bill was being debated, the American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a statement saying the science is clear -- &ldquo;crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.&rdquo; AAAS says the Food and Drug Administration requires special labelling on food only if there is a special health or environmental risk without that information. It concludes that in this case, &ldquo;legally mandated labels will only mislead and falsely alarm consumers.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s not that simple, says Jennifer Kuzma, an associate professor of science and technology policy at the University of Minnesota. Last fall, she reviewed the scientific literature on genetically engineered food.</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t really say that all genetically engineered foods are safe or unsafe,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>For example, scientists could take a scorpion toxin and put it into a corn plant, or an allergen from shrimp or seafood and put it into corn. Kuzma says that&rsquo;s probably not very safe. On the other hand, she points out plants have naturally occurring toxins to defend themselves against insects. For example, if farmers used conventional methods to breed potatoes that have more of their natural toxins, than those potatoes might not be safe for humans to eat. She concludes that both ways are capable of producing unsafe crops.</p><p>Kuzma says there are arguments for and against labelling, but points out it comes down to how much people trust the food industry.</p><p>&ldquo;Often these decisions about these crops are made behind closed doors, and all of a sudden, people are presented with &lsquo;oh, it&rsquo;s on the market and and I&rsquo;m eating it? Really?&rsquo; I think that can anger people.&rdquo;</p><p>She stresses safety is not just a scientific issue, but a social construction.</p><p>&ldquo;I can say, &lsquo;I&rsquo;ve tested this, and it showed no health effects over the two-year life of a rat, that doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean that it&rsquo;s safe for humans to eat over a lifetime,&rdquo; Kuzma said. &ldquo;I think we need to decide what is safe as a society, what will we accept in terms of uncertainties that we&rsquo;re willing to deal with in order to reap the benefits of some of these crops.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alan Yu is a WBEZ metro desk intern. Follow him @Alan_Yu039.</em></p></p> Tue, 06 Aug 2013 17:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-senate-bill-mandates-labels-genetically-engineered-food-108310 Worldview 1.14.13 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-01-14/worldview-11413-104904 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/GMOs.jpg" alt="" /><p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-power-politics-of-genetically-modified-o.js"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-power-politics-of-genetically-modified-o" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Power politics of Genetically Modified Organisms" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Mon, 14 Jan 2013 12:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-01-14/worldview-11413-104904 'Bitter Seeds' film exposes epidemic of Indian farmer suicides http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/segment/bitter-seeds-film-exposes-epidemic-indian-farmer-suicides-99653 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP120223013760_0.jpg" title="An Indian farmer sprays fertilizer at his paddy field in Burha Mayong east of Gauhati, India in February 2012. Agriculture is the source of livelihood for around 115 million farming families, about 70 percent of India's population. (AP/Anupam Nath)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>Big agribusiness companies like U.S.-based Monsanto claim their genetically modified (GM) seeds offer effective solutions to feeding the globe&rsquo;s exploding population. But there&rsquo;s growing concern over such technological trade-offs. Even those of us who own iPhones have only to read the stories coming from the Apple/Foxconn plant in China to see that an easier life for us can come at great cost to the impoverished in the developing world.</p><p>These GM seeds are sterile and therefor don&rsquo;t regenerate. Farmers can no longer depend on nature for their survival and are forced to buy from multinational agribusiness entities like Monsanto or ADM in order to plant anew. On the ground, small-scale farmers are losing their land. The situation is especially desperate in India, where <a href="http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/sainath/article2577635.ece">an epidemic of farmer suicides has claimed over a quarter-million lives in the last 17 years</a>. Every 30 minutes, one farmer in India, deep in debt, commits suicide.</p><p>Wednesday,<em> Worldview </em><em>talks</em> with director Micha X. Peled, who had documented this epidemic in the film <em>Bitter Seeds</em>. It begins in 2004, when an American company introduced genetically modified seeds to the Indian market, with catastrophic results for local farmers. <em>Bitter Seeds</em> follows one farmer through a disappointing season of drought and parasite infestation. Required by a money-lender to put up his land as collateral, he gambles on everything he has.<em> Bitter Seeds</em> is the final film in Peled&rsquo;s &ldquo;Globalization Trilogy,&rdquo; following <a href="http://teddybearfilms.fatcow.com/2011/08/01/store-wars/"><em>Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town</em></a> and <a href="http://teddybearfilms.fatcow.com/2011/09/01/china-blue/"><em>China Blue</em></a>.</p><p>Bitter Seeds<em><a href="http://ff.hrw.org/film/bitter-seeds?city=6"> screens Wednesday May 30)</a> at the Gene Siskel Film Center as part of the <a href="http://ff.hrw.org/chicago">Human Rights Watch Film Festival</a>. </em><em>Panel discussion&nbsp;with filmmaker, Arvind Ganeson of Human Rights Watch and Rebekah Silverman, associate director for Growing Home</em><em>.</em></p></div><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/QZtKB_KuASc" width="560"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 30 May 2012 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/segment/bitter-seeds-film-exposes-epidemic-indian-farmer-suicides-99653