Secrets in Your Food

ByABC News via logo
August 21, 2006, 9:46 AM

Aug. 21, 2006 — -- The Battle over geneteically altered food continues, even while it's use is increasing. Advocates say genetically modified biotech food is perfectly safe. Critics say it's food that's been fooled around with. Whether you find biotech food appetizing or appalling, one thing is for sure: Americans are eating more and more of it. Seventy-five percent of all processed food in the United States now contains ingredients from genetically modified crops.

The food industry says if the product has corn or soybeans in it -- and most processed foods do -- it's probably been genetically modified. Even so, many shoppers have no idea they're already eating the food of the future.

Biotech crops are created by taking genes from one organism and inserting them into another. That gives the plant traits that make it easier to grow or harvest.

Anti-genetic food protesters have been taking it to the streets -- and the Internet. One site called claims we are all "taking part in the largest genetically engineered food experiment in history. ... They're serving up new and inadequately tested combinations of DNA never before eaten by human beings."

The food industry is fighting back with an entirely different point of view. The U.S. Grains Council produced a DVD that features farmers who grow modified food.

"If it wasn't safe for me to grow and my family to consume, I wouldn't grow it," says one farmer. According to the council's Mark Farmer, "We would not be using those ingredients unless the authorities had evaluated them and determined them to be safe."

But activist groups disagree. Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety says, at the very least, genetically modified food should be labeled."If we saw the label, we'd start asking the questions that we need to ask. Are they safe? Are they good for our children? Are they safe in the environment?"

The center says labeling modified foods would make it possible to identify allergic reactions.