Genetically modified organisms, or GMO foods, are on grocery store shelves already. They are present in nearly 80% of processed foods that contain crops such as corn and soy and their byproducts. The long-term effects on human health and the environment from these non-natural products are unknown. A federal survey has revealed that most Americans want these foods labeled in order to make an informed decision about what they and their families eat each day.
When the Audubon Society of Delaware and two Washington-based non-profit organizations, the Center for Food Safety and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, learned that the US Fish and Wildlife Service had permitted farming with GMO soy and corn on the 10,000-acre Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, they protested and filed a lawsuit, claiming that GMO farming was incompatible with conservation and habitat preservation. Last week, a federal judge ruled that the Service should not have permitted farming with GMO crops on a national wildlife refuge, and the farming contracts were cancelled.
This new ruling may have a national impact. Hundreds of acres of GMO corn and soy are planted at the Big Muddy National Wildlife Refuge along the Missouri River. And over 2000 acres of crops engineered for herbicide tolerance are planted in Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in southern Illinois. Each of the eighty Fish and Wildlife refuges that permit farming will receive a copy of the ruling from the executive director of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Jeff Ruch.
Foods that contain GMO crop ingredients remain an important issue, both to physicians who use nutrition preventively and therapeutically in their clinical practices, and to patients who know that eating locally and organically has a profound positive impact on their health and well-being.