If asked the question, “where does your food come from?”, many will answer, “the grocery store”, or perhaps even, “a restaurant.” Few know the true origin of their food, and even fewer are aware of how it is produced. We often take for granted the quality of our food, and are easily fooled by marketing into thinking it’s health, therefore it is very important to be educated. You’ve probably heard of the term genetically modified, perhaps mentioned in health articles or stamped on the label of a food product, but do you truly understand what it means? Since October is the first-ever Non GMO month here’s a quick breakdown of facts and tips on this unnatural food production.
Genetically modified foods, often referred to as GMOs (“O” stands for organisms), are created via gene-splicing and crossbreeding methods in laboratories. Basically, scientists are copying the DNA of one living being and pasting it into another. It is estimated that 60-80% of packaged products in the average American grocery store contain GMOs, and they are not required to say so on the label - yikes! Many fingers are pointed at a company called Monsanto, who seem to be intent on monopolizing and controlling the world’s food supply by creating patents and strict rules for farmers - in essence, they have turned plants into corporate products.
Myths About GMOs
Genetically modified foods have been promoted as being cost effective and a way to fight world hunger, which is certainly appealing with the state of our economy. However, research has shown that GM crops do not yield any more food than non GM crops, which does not make them cheaper nor available to starving people. There are also claims that GM foods are more nutritious, perhaps because they are often bigger in size, while others say the opposite is true because of their unnatural effect on soil and bugs.
Health Risks of GMOs
Unfortunately, there haven’t been any independent or long-term research on the health effects of GMOs, so it’s unclear whether or not they’re safe. However, some studies have linked them to allergies, immune suppression, sterility, complications with organ development, and increased death rates. Many believe that GMOs have the potential to reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics and result in superbugs and pesticide-resistant weeds - if these theories prove true, more chemicals will be need to be developed to counteract these problems, which could threaten our health. In this case, it may be best to consider GMOs guilty until proven innocent - don’t give them the benefit of the doubt.
How to Avoid GMOs
- Vote with your dollar! Look for food products that are labeled “Non-GMO” and buy them. For quick reference, check out the Non GMO Product shopping guide.
- FYI: while buying organic usually means that a product is not genetically modified, organic certification does not require GMO testing. Recent reports have shown that organic foods can test GMO positive due to cross contamination (while growing and in production).
- Between 60 - 85% of corn and soy is genetically modified, therefore you are encouraged to avoid them when you can. However, since they are in so many products, make sure they are organic if you choose to eat them.
- Raise your voice and let our legislators know that you don’t want GMOS!