Genetically Engineered Foods
The Healthy Food in Health Care program encourages health care providers to purchase foods free from genetically engineered (GE) ingredients as much as possible, to source from suppliers that demonstrate a strong commitment to non-GE foods, and to support local farmers that favor sustainable practices. Genetically engineered crops are also often known as “genetically modified organisms” or GMOs.
One of the primary concerns we have with GE foods is that they have not been adequately assessed for their adverse effects on human or animal health, or on the environment in which they are produced. Also of concern is the threat posed by genetic engineering to environmentally-sustainable food production of analog crops and the threat to the economic livelihood of farmers pursing sustainable food production.
Most soybeans, field corn and cotton in the United States are grown using genetically engineered seeds. Also in GE production are crops such as alfalfa, Hawaiian papaya, canola, sugar beets and some zucchini. Genetically-engineered animals such as farm-raised salmon have also been proposed to the US FDA but have so far not received approval for large-scale production.
Catholic Healthcare West, the nation’s eighth largest health care system and a key ally of Healthy Food in Health Care, publicly displayed their commitment to seeking alternatives to genetically engineered sugar beets and animal clones in 2009. They worked with players throughout their supply chain, ranging from sugar producers like Diamond Crystal, to Premier, their group purchasing organization, to more closely understand how CHW-member hospitals can access foods produced without genetically engineered ingredients.
More recently, Health Care Without Harm joined as a partner to the Just Label It campaign, which has petitioned the FDA to legally require that genetically engineered (GE) foods be labeled. Americans have a basic right to know what they are eating and the right to make informed choices about what they eat. This is particularly true for health care institutions that serve food to millions of health-compromised patients on a daily basis.