Last week I asked a produce employee at Pittsford Wegmans whether their corn on the cob was GMO, and he replied that no, this was from Georgia, but later on it would be GMO.
I wrote a letter to Wegmans expressing my disappointment that I would be unable to purchase corn from them this year, and following is their reply. If GMOs concern you and affect your purchasing choices, be sure to let the grocery stores and manufacturers know why they’re losing business!
Thank you for sharing your concerns about genetically engineered (GE) foods. We have been collecting information (from all over the world it seems) and talking to the experts, trying to understand the facts as well as consumer and grower attitudes.
We have no plans to change the labeling on Wegmans brand products. Genetically engineered crops, also referred to as GMOs, are so common that it’s easier to point to where they are not used. That is, by definition, certified organic foods cannot be grown from genetically engineered seeds. The safety and benefits of GE versus organic foods are hotly debated. You’ll need to decide for yourself whether organics are right for your family.
You may be surprised to learn that since their introduction in 1995, genetically engineered seeds have been widely chosen by American farmers. Based on data from the USDA, between 55 and 95% of acres planted with corn, soybean, canola, and cotton are from genetic engineered seeds. These crops become ingredients in many of today’s processed foods. Since GE and non-GE crops are mixed together in the same “pipeline” we have to assume that the non-organic packaged foods on supermarket shelves may contain genetically engineered ingredients. We don’t know of any fresh produce grown from GE seeds, other than a few varieties of sweet corn. Some of the well-publicized products – such as some tomatoes and potatoes – either did not succeed or have not yet made it into our market area.
Testing for GE ingredients is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to do. For example, there is no test available that can reliably determine the source of ingredients that have been highly processed, which is the case for corn syrup, soybean, canola, and corn oil. These are four of the most common ingredients made from GE crops.
There is no regulation requiring companies to uniformly declare when GE ingredients are used. However, genetically engineered foods must be labeled if they are significantly different in composition, such as in nutrition or allergen reactivity. Today, the GE crops being harvested offer production advantages to farmers (for example, the need for fewer pesticide applications) but no compositional differences to the end consumer.
The Wegmans Organic Farm is committed to helping local growers learn best practices for fresh organic vegetables and fruits. We continually look for certified organic and GE-free labeled products as they become available and offer those choices to our customers. In fact, Wegmans Organics is among our fastest growing brands in the store. These items can be found in our Nature’s Marketplace department and in some cases, such as organic meats, milk and cereal, they are found in the regular aisles.
Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns. It helps us to understand how our customers feel about this issue.
Consumer Services Specialist