I saw the label on the orange juice container. “Non GMO,” it said. I love my store in Riverdale. It’s clean, bright, organized, and the folks are friendly and helpful, but that doesn’t mean that Food Lion employees choose what gets put on the shelves.
I was surprised this evening when I stopped to pick up some items and noted one of the orange juice brands was labeled “Non GMO.” As if.
We have a recent Virginia Tech Ag. graduate living in our house, so I asked her about GMO orange juice. Her major was agricultural sciences and she knows her stuff. You know what she did? She snorted, right there in the store. Snorted really loudly, I might say. Right in front of everybody.
There are only eight food crops that come from GMO trait seeds, she said. Oranges are not one of them. It’s like selling water that is sugar-free, fat-free, or non-GMO. Of course, water is sugar-free, fat-free and non-GMO. Pure, natural water, that is. I’m not talking about flavored water (but you should know that).
The motivation for a company to put “Non GMO” on the label is purely marketing. It’s a big deal in food marketing to be able to distinguish a product as non GMO from a similar GMO product. In order for a GMO product to be on the market, it goes through research and development stages followed by approval and regulation steps through government agencies. This process takes an average of eight to ten years, and sometimes as much as fifteen years. In this particular case, even though oranges (and juice made from oranges) are not one of the eight crops that can be considered GMO, the company uses this “scare tactic” and fear-mongering (capitalizing on people’s ignorance to gain extra profit) to get people to buy its product. In other words, no company that sells orange juice can sell GMO orange juice because there is no such thing as GMO oranges. Yet to read their label, one would think that they take care and pride in making sure their product isn’t GMO, even though (it would seem) other companies’ orange juice is made from GMO oranges.
Typical housewife Jane goes to the store and buys the juice with the non-GMO label because she thinks she’s providing a more natural product for her family. She could buy any other brand of orange juice and be doing “the same good” for her family!
Sometimes we know just enough to be dangerous – or show our ignorance. Sadly, we forget that marketing plays a large part in how things are labeled. When we should be able to trust companies to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, we can’t. Their object is marketing, sales, and profit. Those goals don’t always line up with ours.
Therein lies the problem. I’m a truthful person, so I trust others to be truthful with me. It just ain’t always so. This company wasn’t telling a lie; it just wasn’t telling the entire truth. Because of that, some folks picked up that brand of juice. It’s okay to buy that brand. I did, but I didn’t buy it because it was a “non-GMO” product.
Same difference, you might say. I like to think there’s a clear difference in my decision: I made an educated, informed choice based on the price and the label ingredients, and not because it was about GMO. I’ll be honest. The temptation was there to purchase another brand without that label – just to prove a point. The cost won me over – this time. Like I said, it had nothing to do with GMO.
I’m not telling you that you should or shouldn’t buy Non-GMO products. I’m simply reminding you that things are not always as they seem, and it makes sense to understand actual facts rather than jumping on a bandwagon that isn’t really headed anywhere. An educated decision in choosing what one buys is better than making an assumption based on inaccurate information. That’s my point for the day, folks. Now go out and buy your Non-GMO juice, no matter what the label.