Earlier this year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved three new genetically engineered (GE) foods, taking many people by surprise. The green-lighted foods are herbicide-resistant sugar beets and alfalfa, as well as a type of corn tailored for ethanol production. Last week, Slow Food USA posted a blog highlighting the main concerns around these additions to our food system.
While the alfalfa and corn are not intended for human consumption, they’ll still likely impact people-food. They’re extremely likely to cross-pollinate with their organic or non-GE relatives. The sugar beets have yet to pass an environmental safety test, but were given the go-ahead for planting this season in order to avoid a shortage of sugar.
On top of gene drift concerns, it’s looking like corn-based ethanol isn’t the green energy solution it was meant to be. Ethanol faces increasing criticism for being energetically inefficient and for driving up food prices worldwide.
The deregulations also lent new urgency to the demand for labeling, as US law does not require food products to disclose whether they contain GE ingredients.