By: Robyn O'Brien
A quest for answers about her child’s food allergy turned this mom into a food labeling advocate.
Jessica Seinfeld recently said: “Motherhood changes your constitution.” I’d never thought to put it so succinctly, but it does.
Fifteen years ago, I had a job in the finance world. I was an analyst on a team that managed $20 billion in assets, and I covered the food industry. It was black and white, all data. My heart was not involved.
All of that changed when we had kids. When the life of our fourth child was challenged over breakfast by a food allergic reaction, every analytical part of me went off. A food allergic reaction now sends someone to the emergency room once every three minutes in the United States.
Since when did so many children have food allergies? Are we allergic to the food or to what’s been done to it?
I wanted to understand what was going on with the health of our children, why so many American kids now have food allergies, autism, ADHD, diabetes, and so much more. Genetics don’t change that quickly.
And as I began to dig into health statistics and the changes in our food supply, I was stunned to learn about a fundamental change in the way that our food is produced. If motherhood changes the constitution of a woman,genetic engineering changes the constitution of our food. Those changes are so fundamental that the companies that have made them patent and register them with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Because of these fundamental changes, all of our key trading partners now label these genetically engineered ingredients for their citizens. Our very own American food companies complied with these labeling standards overseas and label genetically engineered ingredients for their customers in other countries.
But perhaps the most stunning revelation of all was that Americans had been kept in the dark. Our own food companies, while labeling these ingredients overseas, were not labeling them here.
It challenged everything I believed in.
How can anyone take personal responsibility for the health of their family if we have not been informed that our food is now genetically engineered? How can we make an informed choice if these genetically engineered ingredients are not on the label? And why are our own American food companies labeling these genetically engineered ingredients on their products overseas but not here?
The double standard was impossible to digest, so I began asking questions.
It triggered an allergic reaction in the food industry. But the more I spoke out about it, the more others joined in: CEOs in the food industry, national retailers, food service companies, doctors, allergists, and others.
People realized that in order to protect the health of our country, we have to know how our food is made. Labeling these genetically engineered ingredients gives us basic information into food production: how these crops are grown, what pesticides are used on them, what synthetic chemicals are applied. And that all provides data and the ability to conduct more science. We need more science to help us understand why cancers in children are escalating, why food allergies, autism, and so many more conditions are on the rise.
Correlation is not causation, but the declining health of our families and the increased rates of these conditions merits investigation. Labels give us the ability to further investigate.
To be part of the pro-labeling movement is to join 60 percent of the world’s population, 64 countries around the world, and a growing number of consumers and food companies. To be part of the pro-labeling movement does not mean that you are anti-GMO; it means that you are pro-transparency, pro-science, pro–freedom to choose.
No one wants to be fed ingredients that are new to our food supply without our consent or knowledge, regardless of whether they are safe or unsafe.
How we feed our families is one of the most personal choices there is.
This Mother’s Day, I hope you will join me and millions of Americans who are standing up for this right afforded families in other countries, this label on genetically engineered foods, so that we can take personal responsibility for our own health and the health of our country.
American food companies label these ingredients overseas. It is time for them to do the same thing here.
Originally Published: TakePart