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Let's Be Honest about Labels, Marketing, and the Grocery Store

May 4, 2018
Consumers are clamoring for honest, accurate information about their food.  And GMOs in food products have become a hot topic in the past few years.  Many people are now wanting to know if there are GMOs in their food, and want accurate information from food companies about this issue.

But accurate information cuts both ways.  In a new op ed in the Houston Chronicle on behalf of GMO Answers, Registered Dietitian Neva Cochran notes that Amazon, which has recently bought Whole Foods, needs to be more honest and clear in their marketing of their foods.

She writes:
Consumers are so bombarded with food and nutrition hype on the internet that they are confused about the safety, healthfulness and nutritional contributions of many foods and ingredients. With a plethora of absence claims on food labels and shelf tags — gluten-free, non-GMO, sugar-free, no added hormones, no artificial ingredients, antibiotic-free — fear-based marketing seems to have become the preferred way to sell a product.

She lists many of the common misleading claims found on products in U.S. grocery stores, including chicken labelled with no added hormones (No chicken sold in the U.S. is allowed to have added hormones) or gluten-free labels on products that no one would ever think to contain gluten (Assuming people actually know what gluten is).

Finally, she addresses the hot trend of slapping the phrase "non-GMO" on items, or what we call spreading misinformation about GMOs:
Finally, there are non-GMO claims, which imply that foods produced through GMO agriculture are not safe or healthful. The fact is GMO foods are perfectly safe to eat. The 2016 National Academy of Sciences report, “Genetically Modified Crops,” examined over 1,000 research and other publications and concluded there was no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between commercially available GMO and conventional crops.

There are only 10 approved GMO crops currently in the United States: field and sweet corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, squash, potatoes and apples But you will find non-GMO labels on items ranging from salt, vodka and orange juice to cat litter.

In the end, people just want to know if their food is healthy, safe, and nutritious for them and their families to eat.  Misleading marketing labels do nothing to help consumers make those decisions, and companies should stop doing it.

Check out Neva's op ed in the Houston Chronicle, and then head to GMO Answers for more information about GMOs.