Parashat Kedoshim

Kilayim Pie?

The prohibition against interbreeding animals and plants raises questions about the kashrut of genetically modified foods.

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However, as Nahmanides, the 13th-century Spanish-Jewish commentator points out, the laws of kilayim point to a basic Jewish understanding of the world we inhabit. We arrived at consciousness in this world with species in all their variety in place, and we ought to proceed with extreme caution. They exist because God wants them here, and we proceed at our own peril if we set out to alter them.

The organizations that supervise the religious suitability of foods for Jewish consumers--what are they doing about the issue of genetically modified food? What answer did I get to my own Rabbi Yermiah question?

Two of the major organizations did not respond to my emails. The Star-K of Baltimore did reply saying, "...As a rule we do not assume that commercial produce is grown in a prohibited manner. The bottom line is, if it looks like a tomato and smells like a tomato, it is a tomato and may be eaten."

It remains for the Rabbi Yermiah in each of us to decide whether we are satisfied with this answer.

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Jeremy Wexler is a writer and Jewish educator who lives and works in Montreal, Canada. He has graduate degrees from the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University.