Truth from the Trenches by Melissa Hart
Would you support a government policy for mandatory labels on food containing DNA?
And the survey said … yes! In a recent survey done by Oklahoma State University, 80.44 percent of the respondents voted to support mandatory food labels on food containing DNA.
OSU takes a survey every month of at least 1,000 individuals weighted to match the U.S. population in terms of age, gender, education and region of residence. The survey group called “FooDS” tracks consumer preferences and sentiments on the safety, quality and price of food at home and away from home, with particular focus on meat demand. And it has some interesting results.
But the one question that caught the eye of Washington Post columnist Ilya Somin and, as a result, the rest of us on social media was about DNA. Somin commented the DNA warning label may look something like this: “WARNING: This product contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
The Surgeon General has determined that DNA is linked to a variety of diseases in both animals and humans. In some configurations, it is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children.”
As ridiculous as that sounds, more than 80 percent of the respondents thought DNA was something significant. Why? Maybe it’s a lack of common sense. Maybe they really don’t know what DNA is. And maybe there has been so much fear-mongering in the media that any capitalized acronym looks like a threat, and we need to get rid of it.
Shouldn’t everyone know what DNA is? Doesn’t everyone watch “NCIS?” The answer is no.
Quite simply, a young mom of three, who graduated from high school, making decisions on what to cook for her family, may not even know that all food is made up of fat, protein and carbohydrates. And why should she care?
Is that required knowledge for a young mom of three?
Honestly, she’s trying to figure out how many boxes of macaroni and cheese she can make stretch until the next paycheck and still keep her family fed. And if you think she’s going to add real butter to it, think again.
With butter at $4 per pound she’s headed for the $1 per pound store brand margarine.
She will add a jar of applesauce and maybe a plate of hot dogs and her children will eat a meal of nearly all-processed food. But in her mind, she is feeding her children, and that’s what matters to her – today.
This is a cycle that will be repeated over and over and over again across this nation. This young mom isn’t eating at sit-down restaurants and she doesn’t shop at Whole Foods, and she couldn’t care less about GMO labeling or even if they are in her food. Her immediate concern is feeding her children something that seems nutritious, on a shoestring budget.
Let’s come back to earth, and think about the masses of people who just want to eat, and stop reacting to the loud minority of people who want to eat organic tree bark for cereal with a cup of fresh soy milk straight from the pod. Education is paramount, but a relationship with a consumer will trump education every time.
Maybe the next time we are in the checkout line, we need to pull out our wallet and help pay for a young mom’s groceries. Which makes the bigger difference? Telling her what to buy, or offering her to help buy it?
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Melissa Hart may write to her in care of this publication.