Originally published December 12 2014
Minnesota schools take steps to reduce GMO foods served to students
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Public school educators in the Land of 10,000 Lakes have taken a bold first step towards improving the quality of cafeteria food served to children in five Minnesota school districts. Schools in Hopkins, Orono, Shakopee, Westonka, and Minneapolis have announced that they will gradually phase out GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) from their meal offerings as part of a long-term effort to teach students about proper nutrition and the dangers of biotechnology.
On November 5, schools in these five locales kicked off the initiative by celebrating "GMO Awareness Day," providing educational materials to students and their parents that explain how GMOs have never been properly safety tested, and how they've been linked to causing allergies, infertility, and cancer, among other health conditions.
GMO Awareness Day at Minneapolis Public Schools sparks positive reactionsAccording to a recent press release, an array of non-GMO foods was served at the multi-site event, and educators were present to raise awareness about the differences between transgenic crops and hybridized or selectively-bred crops. The former, which contain an unnatural mishmash of genes and DNA from unrelated species and bacteria, are typically used to produce oils and sweetening agents for processed foods, many of which are served at public schools nationwide.
"GMO Awareness Day sparked a lot of good conversations," stated Bertrand Weber, Director of Culinary and Nutrition Services at the Minneapolis Public Schools. "We also received a lot of positive messages, both from inside and outside our district."
GMO policy has failed public, say educators; FDA serving biotech interests Flyers handed out to parents warned that GMOs are particularly problematic for developing children, who tend to eat more food for their body weight than adults. Increasing evidence, added the flyers, shows that GMOs also threaten the environment, and that a growing number of scientists are calling for their cultivation and consumption to end.
"The mandate given to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to foster the interests of the U.S. biotechnology sector resulted in a GMO policy that fails to protect public health," reads the flyer. "Despite the vocal concerns of FDA scientists, the FDA established a policy of treating GMO foods and non-GMO foods as equivalent."
A PDF image of the flyer is available here:
Minnesota schools replacing 'risk' ingredients with wholesome, organic fare To get the ball rolling, nutrition directors have already begun communicating with suppliers their need for more non-GMO options. This includes transitioning to clean cooking oils and avoiding "risk" ingredients like processed corn syrup and sugars made from transgenic sugar beets, which account for more than 90 percent of the sugar beets grown in the U.S.
"Many of us are already working to reduce food dyes and additives and bring in produce from local farms," added Weber. "Reducing GMOs is another way we can support kids' long-term health."
Though making a complete switch to non-GMO foods is still not possible for some districts, momentum is building as many of them phase out whatever GMOs they can in favor of fresher, safer options. In Orono, this has already translated into hot dogs made from grass-fed cattle, organic squash, red and green cabbage slaw with baked beans, and non-GMO apple and berries fruit smoothies.
Hot dogs made from grass-fed beef are also being served in Westonka, which is not far from the headquarters of GMO purveyor Cargill, located in nearby Wayzata.
"It's been great to collaborate with other districts on this effort," added Laura Metzger, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Westonka Public Schools. "It's allowed us to share ideas and make sure we're not reinventing the wheel."
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