The term GMO might seem familiar to you but do you know what it actually means? Until about two weeks ago, I personally did not truly understand what GMOs were, nor did I understand what the whole fuss was about. Now that I have done plenty of research, I am more than happy to share with you the important facts about G.M.Os.
GMOs stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. In the history of agriculture, farmers have cross-bred plants and seeds to produce more desirable traits. Some traits that would be considered desirable in crops are: higher yield, more nutrients, faster growing, pest resistance etc. Unlike crossbreeding which occurs in the fields by farmers, the process of creating GMOs takes place in laboratories by scientists. GMOs have taken cross-breading to another level. Scientists are not just cross breeding the DNA of two plants (or seeds), they are also adding DNA from bacteria, viruses and fungi. Bt toxin (a pesticide) has also now been added to corn, which means that pesticides have been mixes into the DNA of our food. EW! It is harmful for humans to consume these new concoctions of mixed DNAs. There has not been enough testing to show that these new organisms are safe for human consumption. Not to mention that more pesticides have to be sprayed on the crops because the GMOs are more resistant to pesticides. “Roundup (a harmful pesticide) has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced.” Along with the health concerns come economic concerns and political conflicts.
Europe and many other countries have banned GMOs because they are not safe. Why is it that the GMOs are legal in the U.S.? A lot of it has to do with politics and large agra-business. Monsanto is the main biotechnology company that has earned a less than favorable reputation. They have secured patents in order to restrict the use of GMOs by farmers. This has allowed Monsanto to sue farmers whose fields are contaminated with GMOs even if the farmer did not purchase or intentionally plant a GMO seed.
The effects of GMOs on our health are just beginning to surface to public knowledge. Since the beginning of GMO production in the 1990s there has been a rise in autism and autoimmune disease. Research shows that “GMOs can be toxic, allergenic and less nutritious than non-genetically modified crops.”
“The most common GMOs are soy, cotton, canola, corn, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa, and squash (zucchini and yellow). GMOs may be hidden in common processed food ingredients such as: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.”
GMOs are found in the majority of packaged food products including: cereals, snack bars, chips, crackers and processed meats. Most restaurants also cook with vegetable oil and/or canola oil. You can always ask for them to cook your food in butter! (Which, in my opinion, is a much better option than having your food cooked in canola oil or vegetable oil.) Additionally, conventional animals are fed GMO corn and grains. If we consume conventional (not-organic) animal products, we are in turn consuming GMOs. It is really important to ask for Organic:Grass-Fed Beef, Pasture-Raised Eggs and Wild fish.
The biggest problem that we see is that GMOs are not regulated. The process of mutating genes and combining genes must be regulated for safety if humans are consuming them. About 80% of our food supply in North America has GMOs. It is important to note that buying Organic food is a great step toward protecting you and your families’ health. Due to contamination and lack or regulation, it is difficult to say that organic food is 100% GMO-free. What we do know is that under regulation of the National Organic program, it is illegal for Organic Certified farmers to knowingly plant GMO seeds.
The ONLY way to know that there are no GMOs in packaged food is to look for foods marked with the “non-gmo project” seal:
To find out more about the non-gmo project, please view their website. They have some GREAT resources and knowledge to share with you: http://www.nongmoproject.org/
Education is our protection against the large biotech and food companies. If we purchase more non-gmo and organic products we increase the demand for those products. Higher demand will drive costs down and increase quantity. The power of the purse is SO important as consumers. Remember that every time you buy organic, local and non-gmo, you are voting for a better and safer food system.
Here is a great video from a pro-surfer about the affects of GMOs: