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Organic and GM Food


Aware of the long-term harm
People are becoming more aware of the long-term harm pesticides can cause. Over the last 50 years, intensive farming has relied heavily on pesticides to ensure bigger, cheaper and disease free crops, but these same crops of fruit, vegetables and cereals all contain these chemicals, which we then consume. For example, recent concerns over the levels of pesticides in mother's breast milk and children's food in general has led to an increase in the sales of organic baby food.

In addition to the effect that can be caused by pesticides, the potential effects to our health posed by the cultivation of genetically modified crops are still unknown - many of us are not prepared to take the same risks again.

Meat products have been at the forefront of these health concerns. Issues raised recently over antibiotics, hormones, and animal by-product feeds, and the fears surrounding the BSE crisis in the UK, have encouraged farmers to turn to organic rearing methods to provide the substance-free meat and dairy produce that consumers now want. These products are being demanded in greater and greater quantities.

In addition to health issues is a simple question of taste. According to many, bland, tasteless and highly processed products have dominated our shelves for too long, and it's time to return tasty, healthy foodstuffs to our tables.
How do I know it's organic?
When we talk about organic farming and food, it's not just an aim that farmers try and reach, - 'organic' is a term defined by law and all organic food production and processing is governed by a strict set of regulations and guidelines.

Organic farmers and producers in the UK are monitored and certified by the Soil Association, a charity dedicated to promoting organic food and farming, which was founded in 1946.
All organic farmers, food manufacturers and processors are inspected every year, as well as being subject to random inspections without warning. They are all required to pay an annual fee to be registered and must keep detailed records.
All organic food sold in shops must be clearly marked with the appropriate certification body. Labelling regulations are strict. They are the same for all organic certification bodies, and are governed by the EU standards and also apply to imported EU and other prepackaged organic foods.
The easiest way to tell if a manufactured product is organic is to look for the symbol of certification on the packaging.
Gm Food
Healthy eating and the environment are important to everyone and as the debate on genetic modification continues, why be worried? There are many people who believe genetic modification has many benefits.
  • It can increase crop yields, which would help feed the hungry.
  • It can improve flavour and qualities of food. However, there are many people who believe genetic engineering may be unpredictable and unstable.
  • GM-crops also have implications for the environment around us. When a GM plant is introduced into the natural environment, we are unable to control its spread. Genetically modified plants may drive out natural species, reducing the biodiversity of the plant and threatening the habitats of wild animals and birds.
  • Once the decision has been made to release a genetically modified organism into the environment there is no going back.
  • The Soya bean is one of the most common genetically modified crops used in food manufacturing today. It can be found in most processed foods such as bread, biscuits, baby foods, chocolate, ice cream, ready meals and many vegetarian products.
  • So how can you make an informed decision about GM foods? Iceland supermarkets have already led the way by giving customers an informed choice. In 1998 they were the first supermarket chain to remove all GM ingredients from its own brand products.
  • Most of Iceland’s competitors have followed their lead and there is now a legal requirement to clearly label products containing GM ingredients. If in doubt read the label.
The only thing we know for certain about GM foods at the moment is that the jury is out on the potential benefits and environmental impact of this new food technology.