A Call For Transparency

Nathan Wild
How come we don’t get to know the names of the chemicals that are sprayed on our food or if it’s been genetically modified?

There are strict rules and regulations for the ingredients used in processed foods. Pick up any packaged product at the grocery store and you can find a list of ingredients clearly labeled on it, as well as ingredients that may have been cross contaminated. But when it comes to fruits, vegetables and grains we don’t get that same information. Why is that? If your food was coated in an artificial wax (which many of them are) shouldn’t we get to know what that wax is made from? What if it contains trace amounts of pesticides, herbicides or was grown from a genetically modified seed? Shouldn’t we be allowed to know?

Imagine if all of the produce at the grocery store showed a list of every chemical that may be on that food. How quickly do you think our agricultural system would clean up it's practices if our food was clearly labeled "Grown with GMO seeds. May contain trace amounts of Glyphosate and pesticides X,Y and Z. Coated with a petroleum-based wax which contains trace amounts of fungicide.”

GMO foods have been in our food system since the 90’s. The industrial agricultural system that uses GMO’s have fought tooth and nail to avoid having their foods clearly labeled. It was only until 2022, over 30 years later, that the US government finally made it mandatory for GMO’s to be labeled on food packing. But, not surprisingly, in another effort to conceal themselves they changed the term from GMO to “Bioengineered”. The new labeling laws also leave glaring loopholes that will still allow companies to use GMO ingredients without having to label it. In Canada, there are still no laws requiring GMO foods to be labeled. If they’re so convinced GMO’s are safe why are they trying so hard to hide them?

In the health food world there is a constant arms race to see who can create the healthiest products with the best and most sustainable ingredients. And the companies that pull it off are rewarded with loyal customers. If people could see the inputs that were used to grow their food imagine the innovations we'd start to see in agriculture. Farmers would be incentivized to use more sustainable and safer inputs. And the farmers that figured out the most sustainable practices would become more successful and grow faster, which would create trends, which would breed more sustainable farming practices.

Right now the system is backwards. The farms that use the most chemicals and the most unsustainable practices are rewarded because they can sell their food at the cheapest prices. All well not having to disclosure what they’re doing to the public.

The main problem with our agricultural system is that there's a veil between us and it. We can’t see what's happening. We don’t get to know what they’re doing to our food and to our planet. And without transparency change happens slowly. As consumers we have an enormous effect on the market. If all of a sudden there was a large demand for more sustainable food practices then the market would respond quickly. But without transparency the changes we want to see will take decades to materialize.