Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio- regular reports are aired on member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. They are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read their ethics standards.Harvest Public Media was launched in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, the collaboration is supported by CPB, the partner stations, and contributions from underwriters and individuals.Tri States Public Radio is an associate partner of Harvest Public Media. You can play an important role in helping Harvest Public Media and Tri States Public Radio improve our coverage of food, field and fuel issues by joining the Harvest Network.

Video: What are GMO Labels?

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media
Demand is growing for GMO-free labels on food products, according to the Non-GMO Project, one of the principle suppliers of the label.

There'sa heated debate happening right now about GMOs and labels.  Big food companies such as General Mills, Mars, and Kellogg's say they plan to put labels on their products that tell consumers whether the food contains ingredients derived from genetically engineered plants.

So what’s the big deal? What are GMO labels, and what do they tell you?

Watch the video below to get the full scoop on GMO labels. But here are three things you should know:

1. Think processed food

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. GMO labels would be slapped on food that contains ingredients made from plants that were genetically engineered.

Many processed foods contain corn syrup,soybean, canola or cottonseed oil.Most of those crops grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered. Scientists can insert a gene into a variety of corn, for instance, to make it immune to a weedkiller, so when farmers spray their fields the weeds die but the corn doesn’t.

2. Don’t think safety or nutrition

Some food and consumer groups say products made from GMO cropsshould have special labels for the sake of transparency.

Food regulators here in the U.S. don’t require them, though, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration saysGE ingredients are just as nutritious and safe to eat as ingredients from other crops. GMO labels won’t verify safety or nutrition.

Other advocates object to the cultivation of the current slate of GE crops forenvironmental, economic and political concerns.

3. Think Vermont

Vermont passed a lawrequiring GMO labels on food sold in the state. And there’s a deadline: the labels must be in effect by July 1.

In response, some companies are going ahead with the labels, saying they can’t afford different labels for different states. Other companies are fighting the law – they worry the labels will look like a warning and scare consumers.

Of course, if you want to go GMO-free you can buy foodlabeled by the Non-GMO Project, a nonprofit organization, or you can buy organic. Food that sports a USDA organic seal is not allowed to contain ingredients derived from GE plants.