Have you eaten non-organic food recently? Unfortunately you probably ate some genetically modified foods. Over 70% of corn and soy are genetically modified, and there’s more GMO foods coming to your local grocery store.
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. You might see GE (Genetically Engineered), or GM labels as well. At this point, it’s rather difficult to actually avoid GMOs, simply because they aren’t labeled. Your best guarantee against GMOs is to eat organic food.
What’s the beef?
GMO food is produced for only two reasons: (1) to produce a toxin, Bt, that kills pests; (2) to be resistant to herbicide, such as Monsanto’s RoundUp. The compounds produced by these novel genes are harmful to the human body as well. Bt is an anti-microbial, so it can destroy beneficial bacteria in your digestive system.
What’s more, a novel gene can only be inserted with an antibiotic marker, in order to distinguish between native and transgenic lines. This is part of a standard research protocol in genetic cloning experiments. So anything that is genetically modified, will also produce a small quantity of antibiotics. These antibiotics will also destroy beneficial bacteria in your digestive system.
Because GMOs aren’t labeled, doctors cannot trace food allergies back to GMO products, so no database of GMO health effects can be created either. There have been a multitude of reports on food allergies related to GMOs, usually only because experts followed the patient’s diet back to a processed food containing GMOs. For most people? They won’t know what caused their food allergy.
Aside from food allergy, international scientists have also reported increased likelihood of obesity, cancer, neurotoxicity, and organ failure due to persistent daily consumption of GMO foods.
Because the genetic modification is in a living organism, a plant, which reproduces, organic crops have a high likelihood of getting contaminated by GM crops. Herbicide-resistant superweeds are also increasing because of GMO contamination.
Aside from the scientific issues, there are also a host of political and economic issues associated with GMOs.
What can you do?
Your absolute best bet against GMOs is to eat organic. Unfortunately this isn’t a realistic possibility for many people, whether because of logistical or monetary access.
The Non-GMO Project has a really great brochure for consumers, which explains the basics of GMOs and which products to avoid. On their brochure, they pinpoint the following as high-risk foods for being genetically modified:
- rice, soy
- sugar beets
- yellow summer squash
Also considered high-risk by the Non-GMO Project Standard are animal derivatives such as milk, meat, eggs, honey, and other bee products.
What more can you do?
In my next post, I’ll be talking about various activist groups to support, ballot initiatives to require GMO labeling, and other causes that support labeling or extermination of GMOs.
What’s your experience with GMO’s? What other questions do you have about GMO’s? Please share them below.
[CC Image by illuminating9_11 via Flickr]
[CC Image by Non-GMO Project via Non-GMO Project]