A few weeks ago I wrote an article called Whale Vomit and Other Natural Ingredients where I delved into what the word ‘natural’ really means on a food label. Last week, a huge uproar hit the natural foods community when it was discovered that Kashi, a leader in healthy and natural foods, uses Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) in most of their products. Someone snapped this picture in a Rhode Island health food store and it was posted to the Kashi Facebook page:
The yellow tag says: “You might be wondering where your favorite Kashi cereals have gone. It has recently come to our attention that 100% of the soy used in Kashi is Genetically Modified and that when the USDA tested the grains used there were found to be pesticides that are known carcinogens and hormone disruptors.”
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For those of you who are not familiar with GMO’s, a genetically modified food is when the organism’s own genetic makeup is altered by the addition of DNA molecules from different sources, Sometimes this new DNA is added manually through a ‘gene gun’ and other times it is inserted by the use of bacteria or viruses. Scientists can alter the plants’ own genes for any number of reasons…sometimes they want to make the plant more resistant to frost damage or drought, force it to increase yield, or even produce vaccines. Scientists at Monsanto have created plants resistant to pesticides so they can spray huge quantities of it on their fields without damaging their desired crops.
Think About This: According to Natural News, nearly 100 percent of non-organic corn and soy products on the US market are genetically modified. There is one very important concept in that statement: If it doesn’t say ORGANIC than it is almost guaranteed to be genetically modified!
Back to my Kashi story: Kashi never once stated anywhere that all of it’s products were NOT genetically modified. Nor did they claim they were organic. All they said was that they were NATURAL. And what does the word natural mean according to the federal food labeling laws in this country? The Food and Drug Administration refers to natural ingredients as “ingredients extracted directly from plants or animal products as opposed to being produced synthetically.”
Here in lies the problem: A natural ingredient is one that is not created by humans in a laboratory but genetically modified plants are, by definition, unnatural since they are created synthetically.
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So, was Kashi wrong to call their products natural when they contain GMO’s? Not according to the federal government. Did they mislead consumers? Only if those consumers did not educate themselves as to what the word natural really means on their food label…which is not much, unfortunately. Is Kashi the only company doing this? Not by a long shot…I went the the Whole Foods and Amazon websites and did a search on ‘natural food’ and you would be amazed at how many products came up! Shouldn’t consumers be harassing THEM as much as they are harassing Kashi?
So, what do you think? Are you going to boycott Kashi? If so, I hope you are going to stop buying anything that says ‘natural’ on it because Kashi isn’t the problem…our federal government is the problem! (are you really surprised?)
So, what can you do?
Check out The Food Label Movement for more information on this topic. They are a Canadian based organization but are working to change the food labeling system on a global level. Until things change, just know that unless your food label says ORGANIC it does contain GMO’s.
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.