Food News

Join the Movement to Know If Your Food Contains GMOs

August  3, 2015


There are endless reasons we like to cook for ourselves—the meditation of it, the creativity it requires, the pleasure of feeding people we care for. But we also like knowing exactly what goes into our food, which is one of the greatest benefits of cooking at home: We get to carefully choose each of the ingredients we use.  

And when we choose those ingredients, it's important to us that we know what went into making them. We want to be able to make informed decisions based on whether or not or food contains GMOs. 

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Nine out of 10 Americans—us included!—are in favor of GMO labeling; that is, simply making clear when they're present in a food product. We want to know what's in our food! Which is why we're signing this petition in support. We hope you'll think about signing, too.

Photo by Eric Moran

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • angela
  • Nomnomnom
  • John
  • Matt McCauley
    Matt McCauley
  • Alma Mahler
    Alma Mahler
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


angela August 13, 2015
if you would like to know one way soy is made roundup resistant or why gm corn may be your own research.dont believe others or our government agencies. asbestos was fine as well as fin phen. not foods i know. it is also deemed safe by fda and practiced by companies to cook meat known to have e coli and sell as such. just has to be cooked first. i d rather know about that but theres no regulation the companies have to inform .but dont belive me do your own research.
Nomnomnom August 4, 2015
Here in the United States, we label everything. We are all familiar with the ubiquitous labels on pillows, plastic bags, toys. Why should this one area of the marketplace be different? Who stands to benefit from not labeling GMO food? When in doubt, follow the money.
John August 4, 2015
There is lots of evidence that there are problems with GMO crops. Here are three links to check out. If people want to eat food that comes from plants that have been genetically modified to be "Roundup Resistant", I guess they have that choice. I would rather not, and I have a right to know whether I am or not.
HWoods August 4, 2015
You do have a right to eat what you want. What you don't have is a right to mandate a meaningless label. The first two articles don't talk about the safety of eating GMO foods (which is the only reason to mandate a label). The last article has no real merit to talk about. Where is the peer reviewed data? Right now the data shows safety. Therefore, no mandatory labeling. If you want to only eat from companies that are anti GMO go ahead. But mandating a label that is useful as "all natural" is wrong.
Smaug August 4, 2015
It's not solely a safety matter, but even so, safety is not easily determined. People have been eating for millenia, and modern science still hasn't been able to determine the safety of basic ingredients such as fats or sugars with any degree of certainty. In an era when we are continually urged to buy half-tested products, then re-buy them as new half tested products a year or two later, it's pretty hard to put a lot of faith in claims of safety- and why should we? What is there to hide?
Matt M. August 3, 2015
I'd like to echo the disappointed sentiments of some fellow readers. The emphasis here shouldn't be on labeling but on engaging the public in a conversation about the demonstrated safety of GMO. Genetically modified foods are one of the most well-studied topics in science today and are going to be absolutely vital in closing nutrition gaps in both the developing and developed worlds. Placing "GMO free!" on a product implicitly states that GMOs are something you don't want in your food and does nothing to inform consumers. Non-GMO will simply become a nonsense label in the vein of "All Natural" in that it implies health while actually designating absolutely nothing.
Alma M. August 3, 2015
Please count me as another disappointed reader. GMO labeling does not make food sustainable, free of labor abuse, environmentally friendly or healthy. It does gesture toward that in a way that is devastatingly distracting. Healthy and ethical food systems are important, which is why we can't be trifling here.
rachel5453 August 3, 2015
this is disappointing. i always thought of food52 as an offshoot of the nytimes, but this would seem to indicate otherwise...

for reference:
Marianne August 3, 2015
Thank you for sharing this information. Fear of labeling makes no sense to me. What a person puts in their body is one of the most intimate choices they make, why anyone would want to deny people the right to know and make that choice for themselves boggles my mind. Those who feel GMOs are safe can freely choose to eat them, those who do not can freely choose not to.
HWoods August 3, 2015
Labels are meant to inform. Adding a mandatory GMO label makes consumers feel like there is some type of nutritional difference between the foods. In reality there is no difference. Those who believe they aren't safe are basing that belief in something less than rational.
Olallieberry August 3, 2015
Count me as another regular reader who is surprised and disappointed to see this. Labeling GMOs makes no more sense scientifically than labeling 'foods that have the letter p in the name,' and the more evidence that comes out supporting this, the sillier the anti-GMO crowd looks.
Marianne August 3, 2015
Since the letter P already appears on the label of those foods, I think you just made an argument for why GMOs should be labeled. Why are you afraid of providing people information?
Smaug August 3, 2015
It's not a matter of science, it's a social question. Science is neutral- or maybe just whimsical- having produced everything from the wheel to weaponized smallpox. In this case, the decisions made are inevitably going to be made on the basis of what's good for big agriculture, who will be financing them. With traditional breeding methods, they have been inspired to create a whole array of flavorless produce that stands up to mechanical handling and warehousing well (though Monsanto should get credit for Early Girl tomatoes). While not exactly deadly, this has certainly impacted consumers in negative ways, and I don't see why people should take it for granted that future efforts from the same corporations are to be trusted uncritically. Knowing what's been reengineered genetically is a small first step, but a necessary one.
Cimanim August 3, 2015
I am very disappointed to see this here.
Dogolaca August 3, 2015
I agree. Stick to what you know. You don't know science.
Greenstuff August 3, 2015
I do wish that Food52 had a science editor. Also, a nutritionist and a food-safety expert.
Jana O. August 3, 2015
I am surprised and disappointed in the GMO-labeling support from Food52. I would be behind the labeling of information on *which* genetic traits have been engineered into our food, but the labeling "this food is a GMO" is a feat tactic, nothing more. You learn nothing from a generic GMO label, but understanding whether the organism was modified to be higher sugar content, versus having a resistance to a certain virus, are completely different things.
Smaug August 3, 2015
I'm amazed at the vitriol aroused by this totally mild mannered suggestion; there is no hint of a suggestion in the article that the authors are either pro or anti GMO. I also think it a bit disingenuous to equate modern gene splicing techniques with older practices such as hybridization or selection of cultivars, or less common methods such as forcing mutations with colchicine; modern practices are much more specific and make a much wider variety of genetic traits available- you can't hybridize a tomato with a blowfish.
Nomnomnom August 3, 2015
I absolutely agree with James. As consumers we have a right to know what is in the food we buy, and where our food comes from. The ultimate decision about what to buy rests in the hands of the consumer—full stop.
Andrew M. August 3, 2015
No way, stop this anti-scientific crap right now.
Caroline L. August 3, 2015
hi andrew—and all below,
as stated above, we aren't necessarily for or against GMOs, but we do believe that consumers have the right to know whether or not their food contains GMOs.
Christopher L. August 3, 2015
I hate to be so disrespectful, but no, you didn't; I don't see any sentence above that makes clear the nuance you've stated in your comment. Furthermore, I believe it to be naive to believe that a clear endorsement for GMO labeling doesn't also suggest support for the anti-GMO movement itself, especially when no time was taken to explain the company's stance--or lack thereof.

As I stated below, a clear, nuanced, balanced article--or links thereto--would have been appreciated. Instead, the vibe we get from Food52 writers is: "Label GMOs. Because they are probably bad. But for reasons we will not discuss here." The omission of a real argument--really, only the intimation of one--misleads us into believing that your stance on GMOs is, in fact, negative.
w August 3, 2015
That's incredibly disingenuous. The labeling campaign is simply the public face of the anti-GMO campaign. You can't straddle that fence.
Christopher L. August 3, 2015
Yale graduate student in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics here. Totally agree with the comments below: I, too, am disappointed that Food52 has taken a stance that claims to simply make "clear when [GMOs] are present in a food product", when in reality the labels would do more to mislead and promote fear of "dangerous chemicals" (read: DNA...) rather than engage the public in a rational discussion surrounding the future of food.

One shouldn't need a PhD in biology to understand that genetic modification of organisms is a commonplace and centuries-old practice. But when that knowledge isn't even conveyed to the consumer--and we get, instead, misplaced anti-GMO sentiment--it is the responsibility of sites like this one to make claims grounded in fact, not fear.

I urge you to take into consideration both sides of an argument before reinforcing potentially misleading and misinformed facts. Please take this as a plea to engage us in conversation, rather than silence or ignore the scientific consensus.
Teubner F. August 3, 2015
Agreed. The issue with GMOs is often misrepresented as one of health. In fact, the real danger of GMO crops is turning food into a patented commodity, pushing small farmers out of business and transforming our environment into a monoculture. As you stated, the cross-breeding of plants to survive and thrive in certain environments is a centuries-old practice. The real danger is in the business practices of GMO planting and its effect on our environment's diversity.
James August 3, 2015
Signed. I don't believe labeling GMO or country of origin are anti anything. Information should not be the privilege of a few.
Gibson2011 August 3, 2015
Well put, Lou. I too am surprised at the blind devotion to anti-GMOs and the proponents that believe that labeling GMOs will somehow fix things.
Lou D. August 3, 2015
Nope... sorry, ant-GMO labeling campaigns are frivolous anti-science quackery. They play on what seems like a noble goal, informed consent as to what goes into our food, but the fact is that "contains GMO's" is largely useless information. In today's climate of irrational anti-science fearmongering you might as well put a skull and crossbones on food containing GMO products, products that have been rigorously tested for decades now. I expect better from Food52. My friend and fellow Grounded Parents blogger (shameless plug alert) explains it better than I can.

"As I’ve said, if you don’t understand transcription, translation, and protein synthesis and function at a high level at minimum, you don’t have sufficient understanding to justify an inherently anti-GM stance."