The movement to create a healthier, more natural food supply has made incredible progress in recent years, as about 83% of all households now buy some form of organic food, and organic crop acreage continues to grow.
But despite the emergence of this vital transformation, the genetically engineered food (and lab created industry in general) is also expanding its own reach in many ways, leading to a veritable arms race between food makers.
Recent years have brought us everything from lab-created meat by Bill Gates to non-browning GMO apples, and perhaps even most strangely, lab-grown chicken nuggets made from the feathers of the chickens themselves, which should hit store shelves later this year.
One of the biggest GMO threats lurking in the food supply is a far different animal, however, especially considering that it is used in huge amounts in everything from favorite breakfast foods to side items at practically every restaurant.
And now that the country’s biggest GMO certification agency has finally weighed in on the topic, it’s safe to say that the era of the GMO potato is finally here.
GMO Potatoes Upgraded to “High Risk” by Non-GMO Project
With its familiar butterfly logo making its way onto food packages across the U.S., the Non-GMO Project is one of the most recognizable gold standards for natural food buyers.
While the symbol doesn’t mean the same as organic, it is a trusted way to know whether food contains GMO ingredients made in a laboratory, or created naturally in the field.
Genetically engineered foods aren’t even labeled in the United States, even though they were recently banned by nearly 20 European countries and continue to be shunned across the world. In many ways, the Non-GMO Project has picked up the slack for the lack of GMO labels.
But as far as the GMO potato’s regulations go, we have now entered the Wild, Wild West.
Currently, the White Russet variety from Simplot Innate is the only GMO potato variety on the market, although two other types of GMO potatoes have been approved by the FDA despite a lack of long-term safety testing. The potatoes have been genetically edited by scientists in laboratories using RNAi interference, a process that “silences” particular genes in the food, in this case to hide the appearance of black spot bruising.
This is problematic for customers looking for fresh food, according to Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Projecct.
“Browning is nature’s most visible way of letting you know a product is rotting. GMOs that use RNAi to mask the signs of bruising could lead consumers to unknowingly ingest an unhealthy, toxic product,” Westgate said.
But now, consumers will be left in the dark, even though this type of gene editing has been linked to “frequent and large genetic changes” in people, and even cancer, potentially. The effects in food are unknown, but once again safety testing has not taken these and other worrisome risks seriously.
How to Avoid Genetically Engineered CRISPR Potatoes
Luckily, GMO CRISPR potatoes are still not fully mainstream by any stretch, but they are still seen as a “high risk” item by the Non-GMO Project, making it more important to avoid conventional potatoes by any means necessary and to support organic.
There were about 6,000 acres of GMO potatoes last year, but much higher amounts were expected to be grown in 2018.
It can’t be said enough: the safest and most effective way to avoid any GMO food or product is to buy organic, especially from trusted local growers (important nowadays considering the recent organic fraud scandal reported in America’s heartland and the continued watering down of organic standards).
If you do eat out at restaurants, question them on whether they may use White Russet potatoes from Simplot, and stay up-to-date on GMO developments as best as possible.
The Non-GMO Project also says that it now devotes two full-time research assistants to screening potential GMO ingredients in order to keep up with the fast-growing Biotech industry.
But considering the speed at which these scientists are working to alter our food supply, it’s an inevitability that some foods will fall through the cracks.
Proceed at your own risk, and be sure to support your diet with high-quality organic herbal medicines and foods in order to mitigate any potential damage from these foods — because the as the saga of the GMO potato has shown, this is one experiment doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
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