You may have heard the term "GMOs" and not been exactly sure what it is or why organizations are raising concerns about it. More importantly, you may be wondering how will this affect your health or your child's health. This article will provide an overview to this topic and the growing concerns and controversies surrounding foods containing GMOs.
A GMO or genetically modified organism is created by merging the DNA from different species to create an organism; plant, animal, bacteria or virus which cannot be produced in nature or through traditional crossbreeding. So in other words, GMOs are "manmade" organisms and would not exist otherwise. It can bring about the production of foods that taste better, have longer shelf lives, or withstand harsh growing conditions.
Companies that use GMOs say that the technology can develop and engineer crops that can tolerate herbicides that are more effective. This can lead to lesser herbicide and insecticide use down the line. The use of less pesticides and less herbicides in our foods is better for our health and for our planet's health.
There is a great deal of controversy around the possible health implications of GMOs (man made organisms).
Since the introduction of GMOs in the mid-1990s, the number of food allergies has sky-rocketed, and health issues such as autism, digestive problems and reproductive disorders are on the rise. Animal testing with GMOs has resulted in cases of organ failure, digestive disorders, infertility and accelerated aging. There is a mounting research suggesting that GMOs may be bad for our health. There is a growing concern regarding children and GMOs because their systems have not fully developed yet.
The American Medical Association stated in 2012, they saw no reason for labeling genetically modified foods. However, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has urged doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for their patients.
It has become increasingly difficult to avoid GMOs in our food supply. GMOs make up about 70-80% of our foods in the United States. Most foods that contain GMOs are processed foods, however they also exist in the form of fresh vegetables such as corn on the cob, papaya and squash. The top two most genetically modified crops in the United States are corn and soy. Think about how many foods in your pantry or refrigerator contain corn or its byproducts (high fructose corn syrup) or soy and its byproducts (partially hydrogenated soybean oil).
Orgnaizations have sprouted up demanding that GMO laden foods are labeled. By labeling the foods that have GMOs, consumers can make educated decisions if they want to eat them or not. However, many companies that use GMO in the food manufacturing processes are concerned that by labeling it, it may scare consumers into not buying the foods.
For this reason, they have lobbied against it and have successfully suppressed recent attempts by states such as California and Washington to require labeling of GMO products. Other developed countries require GMOs to be labeled. In fact, there are at least twenty-six countries, including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia that have a total or partial bans on GMOs.
If you decide you want to avoid GMO foods for yourself and your family, you can buy organic. The USDA has strict guidelines for producers of organic foods which restrict them from using any GMO products in their foods.
If a food is not organically grown, look for a Non-GMO Project Label which certifies that it has been tested and found to have less than 0.9% GMO-contamination.
In summary, it is best to be informed when deciding whether or not to avoid GMO’s or processed foods for you and your family’s optimal health. Labels on our foods would better enable us to make these informed decisions.