For related articles and more information, please visit OCA’s Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Myth of Natural page.
Navigating the grocery store aisles in search of truly healthy food can be a daunting task, especially if you do not know exactly what to look for. And according to a new survey put out by ViJuvenate.com, as many as half of all shoppers are still confused by the terms “natural” and “all natural,” falsely believing them to imply that a food item is free of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).
Based on a survey that included 206 respondents from across the U.S., it was determined that 50 percent of shoppers from varying backgrounds and income levels falsely believe that “natural” foods automatically contain no GMOs. As can be expected, this assumption lies in the obvious fact that GMOs are not natural, and thus would not feasibly be found in foods bearing such a label.
But as we have pointed out in the past, terms like “natural” and “all natural” are very loosely regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which means food producers are free to use them interchangeably on all sorts of food items that are not technically natural. Unlike certified organic products, “natural” products are not required to be GMO-free, nor are they necessarily required to be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
According to the Rodale Institute, the USDA’s guidelines for “natural” foods are ambiguous at best, and the term can be used voluntarily by food companies at their own discretion, with no anchoring to any set of standardized guidelines. And while the USDA website states that all natural claims “should be accompanied by a brief statement which explains what is meant by the term natural,” this requirement is hardly enforced.
At the same time, 43 percent of survey respondents indicated their belief that the word “natural” is highly regulated by the USDA, while 33 percent said they believe “natural” products are grown without synthetic chemicals. Even among those who said they regularly purchase organic food, 41 percent indicated their belief that “natural” foods are GMO-free.