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GMOs and Infant Formula: What Parents Need to Know

October 28, 2014
GMO-soybeans-665x385As part of the debate around the Oregon ballot initiative to require the labeling of any foods containing genetically modified ingredients (called GMOs), an Oregon paper ran an unfortunate article that misleads readers about the safety of infant formula.

A noted opponent of biotechnology, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) tested formulas and found that some brands contained soy that was grown using biotechnology.

Noted scientific expert Kevin Folta on the Illumination Blog says the article is “steeped in careful language that confounds terminology and outright misrepresents science” and he dissects the text with scientific fact and notes that point to CFS’s (and the writer’s) political agenda.

Aside from the political mudslinging, there are actually many fact-based resources that can put consumers’ minds at ease about the safety of infant formula:

Some infant formula ingredients, such as soy protein, can be derived from crops which have been enhanced through biotechnology (i.e., genetically modified). An extensive body of sound scientific evidence supports the safety of these ingredients.”

Unfortunately, the dialogue from anti-technology activists and special interest groups like the Center for Food Safety continues to devolve. This time, the victim is science. CFS uses pseudoscience to try to needlessly scare parents away from foods that provide valuable protein to their children. In doing so, they place the health of Oregon children at risk, all in the name of winning votes for an upcoming ballot initiative to label GMOs.

“More than 95 percent of the nation’s soybeans are grown with the benefits of genetic modification. Farmers use this technology because it enables us to grow the soy that American consumers demand for their families, while using fewer natural resources and achieving the sustainable production practices that American consumers demand of us.

“It is irresponsible for special interest groups to suggest safety concerns, directly or by innuendo, about products containing GM soy ingredients. In this case, the CFS has chosen to play politics with children’s health, all in the name of votes.”

  • Center For Food Integrity’s Best Food Facts blog asks Dr. Folta and Dr. Martina Newell-McGloughlin, “Is Infant Formula Safe?” Dr. Martina Newell-McGloughlin points to the mountains of scientific evidence supporting the safety of biotech food ingredients while Folta points out that NO pesticides or chemicals were found in the formulas:

The online report that is circulating claims evidence of soy genetically engineered to ‘tolerate high doses of chemical pesticides’ was found in some infant formulas, making it sound like there was a pesticide detected in baby formula. There was not. Their test detected DNA from a gene that allows the soybean plant to grow in the presence of an herbicide called glyphosate or another called glufosinate. There was no evidence of any applied chemical.”

  • The International Food Information Council (IFIC) explains why “foods containing ingredients produced using biotechnology are as safe as conventional.” The IFIC article contains a quote from Ronald Kleinman, MD, pediatrician and physician in chief at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children:

There’s no evidence that foods produced using biotechnology pose any risk to children or pregnant mothers.”

IFIC also points to these additional online resources:

Additionally, consumers can get information on this and other GMO-related issues and ask their own questions at GMO Answers.