Dear Starkist: Why Are You Selling Test Tube Tuna?

I love reading labels. I love reading pamphlets. I simply like to read, period. Ever since I was a child, I have taken great pleasure in reading ingredient lists, nutritional facts, instructional manuals and that sort of thing. I’m not even sure why I enjoy it so much, but I read the back of shampoo bottles and pasta boxes like I’m curling up with the latest Danielle Steel novel. It’s super weird. Perhaps I just like to be informed about things—I’m not sure. I used to think that this was a really peculiar and pointless habit, but it actually helped me out this morning.

I woke up later than normal today, so I was really quite hungry. Instead of making breakfast like a normal person, I tried to figure out what I wanted to make for lunch/dinner instead. I decided to try something new with tuna because I hadn’t had any for awhile. I’ve also had some of those handy dandy single-serve tuna packets lying around from God only knows when, so I thought I should probably get to eating them. Being the complete expiration date freak that I am, I grabbed the stack of packets and started leafing through them to make sure that nothing was expired. As I looked through them, I was checking out all of the different flavors, trying to decide what would taste best with the meal idea I had.




I came across this lovely little packet and instantly thought. “Eww. Why are you still here?” To be honest, there’s really nothing lovely about this particular flavor. I’ve tried it a few times, but I’ve never cared for it. Even though I typically love garlic in everything else, this tuna flavor is not my cup of tea. I’m not sure if it’s the flavor itself that bothers me or if I simply don’t like garlicky tuna. Still, I turned the packet over to check the expiration date. After all, it was already here and I didn’t want it to go to waste. Well, it turned out that it wasn’t expired, but do you know what I saw?




Umm…why? Why is tuna being genetically modified? I don’t know about you guys, but I’m really getting tired of seeing so many GMO products on the shelves. More recently, I’ve been seeing this same disclaimer on countless items. It just blows my mind. I honestly try to avoid pre-packaged foods as much as possible these days, but when I do have something that is pre-packaged, I typically check to see if its GMO first. It’s not practical or realistic to think that I’m always going to remember to check labels for this sort of thing. I’m still not used to so many things being “tampered” with. However, once I do see that a product is GMO, I tend to leave it alone.

I stood in the kitchen for such a long time, just staring at the label in shock. I mean, what? I couldn’t understand why tuna wasn’t safe from being genetically altered. It’s just fish! Well, it’s fish and seasoning, but still. I never would have imagined that I would have to check tuna, of all things. After that, all I could think of was some mad scientist splicing fish cells and growing them in a test tube.

Before I knew it, I had conjured an entire crazy image of some Terminator-esque cyborg tuna fish clomping out of the ocean with laser eyes, metallic legs and a plasma gun. Obviously, that would be ridiculous, but how is that any weirder than genetically modifying tuna the way they clearly already are—however they are? I’m not sure if it’s the tuna itself that’s been modified or if it’s something in the seasoning because the other flavors I bought didn’t have the same warning label. At this point, I don’t know if I feel like eating any of them anymore—GMO label or not.

I’ll be honest with you guys: I don’t know a lot about the whole GMO thing. I obviously understand the general issue, but I don’t particularly have a full grasp of why all of this alteration is necessary. Yes, yes, I think it’s lovely that they want drought-resistant this and faster growing that. It would awesome to have the capacity to grow enough food to permanently solve world hunger and things of that nature. All of that is terrific in theory, but it’s very concerning in practice. Even though there have been many studies that claim that GMO foods are safe for human consumption, I don’t buy it. I haven’t done a lot of research specifically on GMO foods, but I have researched other ways in which the American food industry (especially meat and dairy) handles our food. It’s really quite scary.

This tuna incident really got me thinking. How long has food not been food? Did the food industry really just wake up one day and say, “Oh! By the way, we just thought you should know that we’re over here tinkering with your vegetables and fruits. It’s not a big deal. We just thought you should know.” Or, has it been going on for decades? Why is it that foods are marked as GMO now, but never were before? You know, when I was growing up, the general public was not concerned with these kinds of things. You went to the store, you picked out your food, you brought it home and you ate it. That was it. Corn was corn. Gum was gum. Meat was meat. I actually remember when organics became “a thing”. It was so strange having to suddenly worry about pesticides and the general way in which food was being produced.

Now, the latest “food crisis” seems to be genetic modification. Every time I go to pick something up, it’s got all these labels and disclaimers. Even when the item is free of everything short of the kitchen sink, it still makes me really sad. Sure, I have the means to go to a health-conscious retailer like Whole Foods and peruse their organic offerings, but what about the people who can’t afford to do the same? Buying organic food can be pricey, especially if you have to feed an entire family.

Why can’t we simply have food as it naturally grows without having to mess with its genetics? Why must companies slap all these labels on something just to let people know that this cereal is “safer”, healthier or more ethically sourced than another one? And at the rate I’m going, will my children even know what food is? Or will they be taking some pharmaceutical company branded meal replacement pill because we’ve jacked up our planet so badly? I worry about the untold implications that GMOs are going to have on our health and the environment. It’s sort of like all of the medications that come out. It’s all rainbows and butterflies until you hear about some wrongful death class action suit on a television commercial. Avoiding potentially harmful medication is one thing, but what about food? Everyone needs food to survive, but I’m not sure this is the type of food any of us needs—drought resistant or not.

Anyhow, I share all of this with you guys just to help spread awareness and encourage everyone to just keep an eye out for things like this. I didn’t think I had to check everything, but apparently I do. Some of you may not care about GMOs, and would gladly continue to consume them until you randomly sprouted a tail or something. Some of you may be far more educated on this subject than I am, and if that’s the case, I’d love to hear your input. However, if there are people who don’t know a lot about genetically modified foods, I hope everyone will take the time to at least look into it. As far as I’m concerned, this was a true wake up call. Nothing seems to be safe anymore.

I knew something wasn’t right with that Herb & Garlic tuna…

But…that is just my opinion 😛



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