In today’s world it’s hard not to be bombarded with trendy terms such as Paleo and Gluten-Free to tell you that you’re eating totally wrong. There is some truth to the idea of eating wrong. In the 90s low-fat, reduced fat, and no fat were all the rage but now we know they’re just fancy ways to say, chemicals added. You wouldn’t go into a lab room and start throwing back beckers and test tubes, would you? But in today’s world every time you step into a grocery store that is what you’re doing. GMOs are the number one offender and even though the term GMO has been tossed around for years the majority of people still don’t have a clue as to what a GMO is. Never fear, because we’re here to tell you exactly what a GMO is and how to avoid them!
1) WHAT THE HELL IS A GMO?!
GMO, also known as a GM, is a genetically modified organism. It is a lab process of splicing genes and inserting various proteins to modify the plant genome. Basically scientists are genetically engineering DNA in a way that is not natural. It is a level of cross-breeding that would never happen naturally.
The first GMO was introduced in 1994 in tomatoes. The crops failed. In 1996 Monsanto created a GMO potato for fast food restaurants but later discontinued it in 2001. Currently, GMOs reside heavily in corn, canola, soy, sugar beets, alfalfa, and cotton – all of which reside in processed foods.
2) DO WE NEED GMO’S?
According to big companies like Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta it is done to attain a desirable trait. The goal is to create seeds that are weed and bug resistant. According to the companies that make them, the seeds produce higher yields for less money.
It is also very, very profitable. Farmers can no longer collect seeds from their crops. The GMO seeds are only good for one year and the farmers are forced to buy new seeds each year.
3) DO GMO SEEDS EXIST NATURALLY?
No. They are created in a lab.
4) WHAT KIND OF RISK DO GMO’S POSE? ARE THE FOODS MORE OR LESS STABLE?
According to Scott Firestone of His science is tight, “There’s an exceptionally small chance for a novel GMO protein to survive the digestive system intact and functional, and GMO proteins are not any more likely than any other protein to do so.”
Contemporary pop scientist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson argues it’s all just biotech paranoia. “It smacks the fear factor that exists at every new emergence of good science. When people don’t understand it they automatically reject it.”
Unfortunately, Tyson is an astrophysicist, not a biologist and despite his argument that: “the process to achieve a GMO is exactly the same as traditional agriculture techniques, it’s just done in a lab,” many disagree and feel that natural process does not and should not occur in a lab. Yes we have invented fabulous products like the internet and Mac computers – but most Americans don’t ingest them.
5) WHAT IS THE HARM IN EATING THEM?
Highly debatable. Little research has been done on the harm, if any, associated with GMO’s. There has not been enough independent research on long-term health and environmental consequences due to ingesting a GMO. The few studies that have been done as to the long-term effects have shown cancerous cell growth, destroyed immune systems, smaller brains, livers and other unexplained anomalies, but all have been discredited. Unfortunately, several of the studies done that show that they are “safe” have been funded or lobbied by the very companies producing the GMO’s. Economic decisions often outweigh health and safety.
Earth open source has a terrific page on the myths and truths about GMOs that I highly recommend. Interestingly enough, over 64 countries including China ban or require labeling. China has now put a ban on all animal feed produced with GMO corn and corn products and this may end up costing American farmers, ethanol producers and traders a total of about $3 billion dollars in losses.
The US government has banned GMO crops in wildlife refuges across the country in an effort to save our pollinators. And many big companies and retailers are ditching GMOs in their products despite the huge economic cost of doing so. Ben and Jerry’s is in the process of becoming Verified non-GMO. On average it is costing them 11% more on each of their 110 ingredients to get GMO’s out. There is a huge cost premium to locate suppliers who don’t use ingredients with GMO’s, showing how deeply rooted the technology has infiltrated our food chain. (If a company uses cornstarch on a cookie sheet before they produce their product, it could be laced with GMO corn)
6) ARE GMOS RESPONSIBLE FOR INCREASED FOOD ALLERGIES?
Dr. Micheal F. Jacobson, executive director of The Center For Science and Public Interest (CSPI) says, “there is not a shred of proof.” But a few studies outside the US have been conducted and they found toxic effects in animals who ingested GMOs. They gained more weight despite eating less food, were prone to disease, had increased cardiac problems or failure and destroyed immune systems.
7) DO GMOS HURT THE ENVIRONMENT?
Yes. Many farmers are claiming that their once abundant GMO crops are starting to fail. Weeds are becoming larger, growing as much as 2″ a day and resist all herbicides now. Pesticides are no longer working so farmers are forced to use 25% more pesticide per acre, according to a Washington State University study. This level of chemicals leads to water, land and food contamination.
8) WHAT CROPS ARE CONTAMINATED?
Highly contaminated crops:
Soy, Corn, Sugarbeets, Canola, Dairy, Alfalfa, Cotton, Zucchini
Because many products on the market, especially highly processed foods contain 3 or more of the above products, you are likely eating GMO’s everyday and didn’t even know it.
9) OK, SO THIS SOUNDS KIND OF BAD. HOW DID I NOT KNOW I WAS EATING THESE? WHY AREN’T THEY LABELED?
The average American, if you stop them on the street, has no idea what a GMO is, nor do they know they are ingesting them every single day. Why has nothing been done? Well the Congressional Panel feels Americans are too stupid for GMO labeling. It also feeds big business. Many of the lobbyist in Congress work for GMO producing companies like Dupont, Syngenta and Monsanto. So there’s a bit of a conflict of interest.
There is currently no law that requires manufacturers to label their products. Vermont is one of the first states to adopt a state law that requires all products to be listed with GMO’s.
10) I’M TOTALLY FREAKED OUT! HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM EATING GMOS?
You don’t unless it’s labeled. Theres currently no government regulation for GMO’s. These are 9 ingredients to watch. Here is a list of 12 healthy food resources across the country to find local farmers, suppliers and farmers markets. Look for Verified non-GMO products:
The Non GMO project is a non profit organization that has over 17,000 verified products. Participating Non-GMO retailers support the non GMO project and helps you find your every day products that are GMO free.