Shaws GMO FAQs

What are GMOs?
The terms genetic engineering, genetically modified, and genetically modified organism (GMO) are often used interchangeably and are all related to biotechnology. Basically, they refer to the process of taking the gene for a specific characteristic from one organism and transferring it to another. These characteristics include disease resistance and drought tolerance.

When genes from one species of plant or organism are inserted into another plant or organism with the help of biotechnology, the result is a genetically modified organism, or GMO. Humans have been breeding plants and animals to have desirable traits as long as they have been farming. Biotechnology is a way to speed up the process of sharing genes without going through the slow cross breeding methods.

What kinds of traits have been introduced in plants that are genetically modified?
Most of the crops that have been genetically engineered have had genes transferred that make the crop resistant to pests or able to withstand herbicides that allow the desirable crop to grow, but not weeds. Other modifications include higher drought tolerance, increased yields, delayed ripening to reduce food waste, and the introduction of vitamins to increase food’s nutrient content.

Who is responsible for making sure that GMOs are safe to eat?
In the US, GMO technology and applications are overseen by three government agencies. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for ensuring the safety of GMO food, while the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for the safety of GMO crops in agriculture and the trade implications of GMOs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for the safety of pesticides, which includes genes used in biotechnology displaying pesticidal traits.

Thousands of food safety tests have been conducted by leading scientific organizations across the world, such as the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, National Academy of Science and, most recently, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. There is broad consensus among food and safety regulatory bodies that approved biotech (GMO) crops are as safe and acceptable as their conventional counterparts.

Does Shaw’s carry Genetically Engineered (GE) Salmon?
No.

The seafood products we offer will continue to be selected consistent with our Responsible Seafood Purchasing Policy and our partnership with FishWise. Shaw’s relies on the FDA to set minimum regulatory requirements. Beyond FDA guidelines, we subject our fresh seafood vendors to additional standards and a selection process that includes confirming compliance with regulations and food safety standards, as well as a review of the environmental impact of the product sourcing. Our Seafood Purchasing Policy utilizes the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® rating system, whereby we only purchase items that are Green rated (aka “Best Choice”) or Yellow rated (aka “Good Alternative”), as well as those certified to an equivalent environmental standard or engaged in a credible and time-bound improvement project.

Where are GMO crops grown?
GMO crops are currently grown in the United States as well as 28 other countries.

What products are likely to contain GMOs
Unless they are certified organic, most products made with corn, sugar beets or soybeans grown in the US contain GMOs or ingredients made from GMO products.

Why do farmers grow GMO crops?
Individual farmers decide whether or not to grow GMO crops. GMO seeds must be purchased from a biotechnology seed company and are often more expensive than conventional seeds. However, since many GMO seeds enable a more efficient use of pesticides, can require less weeding, and produce higher yields, many farmers decide to use GMO seeds because it makes sense in terms of overall cost and time management. On the other hand, farmers growing crops for organic certification may not use GMOs or GMO ingredients. Ultimately, farmers decide what product market is best for them and their farms.

What are the benefits of GMO crops?
Since GMO crops are often engineered to resist damage from pests and herbicides, they often require less application of products, thus reducing worker safety issues on farms and reducing the cost and investment of these products by farmers. Less pest damage means larger yields per acre and more food being produced. This is especially important in developing countries where crop failure – due to pests or weather conditions – is a huge problem and can result in severe hunger and malnutrition.

What are the concerns about GMO foods
One concern about GMO foods and crops has focused on the possibility of food allergies caused by introducing new proteins into foods. During the initial pre market safety evaluations for GMO varieties, potential allergens are carefully considered and factored into the safety evaluation.

Another concern is the potential impact of GMO seeds intermingling with nearby conventional crops and natural ecosystems via animal droppings. A concern is that widespread use will eventually lead to resistant weeds and pests, requiring the use of harsher chemicals. At this point, this has not been the case. Data are being collected and reviewed by the EPA to evaluate the environmental impact of GMO crops. GMO seed companies are also working on new technologies and evaluating the environmental impact. Farmers are natural environmentalists because their livelihood depends on a sustainable use of their farmland. They are conservationists and are often the first ones to use a process or technology with a lower environmental footprint.

What are examples of non-GMO products?
Among other things, you can look for USDA-certified organic products. GMOs are prohibited in any product that has the word “organic” on the front panel.

We have a wide and growing array of organic options, such as those found in our own O Organics product line, that are certified as USDA Organic.

You can also look for products labeled “Non-GMO.”

Where can I find more information about GMOs in food?
Click here for additional information provided by the Food and Drug Administration.

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