Talking GMOs With Bob Burns Of Aiki Farms

Denison Farm Market Master Stuart Woronecki recently sat down with Bob Burns of Ledyard’s Aiki Farms for a Q&A on GMOs.

Supermarkets have carried genetically modified foods for nearly two decades, but the continues and is heating up. HB Bill 5117 would require the labeling of products containing GMOs. And while the bill has won early support from several state representatives, senators, farmers markets and chefs other organizations such as The Connecticut Farm Bureau and the state Department of Agriculture oppose the bill. 

Master Stuart Woronecki recently sat down to talk GMOs with one of the leading supporters of the GMO labeling bill, Bob Burns of in Ledyard.

Q. What does GMO stand for?
A. GMO stands for “genetically modified organisms,” which are products that have been modified at the cellular level by combining DNA molecules from different species to create a new set of genes. This includes the creation of transgenic plants that contain unrelated material derived from at least one source of virus, fungi, pathogens, or animals. The GMOs appear in the marketplace unlabeled and are not required to be tested by the FDA for toxicity. Many food products—corn, soy, sugar cane, sugar beets, rice, squash, and tomatoes, to name just a few—are common GMOs.

Q. Are all GMO products bad for you?  
A. According to FDA policy, no. GMO products are not required to be tested for toxicity, as would non-GMO products. Because of this I am suspect of the quality of GMO foods. I believe that the FDA should require testing and also clear labeling of all GMO food products in our food system.

Q. Is there a place for GMO products in our food system or the worldwide food system?
A. There have been successes for farmers in certain areas where the lack of testing for toxicity does not matter, such as in the production of corn for ethanol. However, the cross-pollination of GMO corn with non-GMO corn crops does occur and is a serious problem. This contamination has ruined sales, resulting in lawsuits and damages paid to farmers in the corn- and rice-producing sectors of our country who ship to the European Union, where some nations will not accept US imports containing GMO sources.

Q. In a conventional grocery store, which kinds of foods are most likely to be GMOs?
A. USDA Certified Organic labels in the supermarkets usually guarantee GMO-free foods.

Q. What can the average person who does not want to buy GMO products do?
A. One good way is to create the time to visit local farmers markets, where freshness and little or no use of herbicides and pesticides ensure a high quality of nutrition, the one guarantee we have for good health. This upcoming year the movement in Connecticut to label GMO foods now includes a bipartisan group of over 30 legislators. The goal is to give the consumer the right to know what is our food system. Contact Rep. Donovan, who has appointed an internal support system for labeling next year. Also, work with Sen. Maynard and Rep. Urban, who are both advocates of the GMO labeling bill.

Q. Can you suggest online resources with more information?
A. Visit nonGMOshoppingguide.com for an explicit list of non-GMO foods.

Q. Is there an upside to the fight against GMO foods?
A. The best part of the GMO debate is that it allows us to discover a better choice of the foods we consume each day of our lives. This is why more and more people are choosing our farmers markets as a surefire path to good health with the high nutrition fresh foods we purchase at the market.


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