A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans.
GMOs are currently in the vast majority of processed foods in the United States. While they are banned as food ingredients in Europe and elsewhere, the FDA does not currently require the labeling of GMOs in food ingredient lists.
Genetically modified foods have been linked to toxic and allergic reactions, sick, sterile and dead livestock and damage to virtually every organ studied in lab animals. The effects on humans of consuming these new combinations of proteins produced in GMOs are unknown and have not been studied.
The World Health Organization issued a report in 2005, Modern Food Biotechnology, Human Health and Development, claiming there may be potential health risks involved in the use of GMOs. Since this time there have been many more incidents indicating GM food and feed are far from safe. These include studies carried out by biotech companies producing the GM crops.
Kidney and blood abnormalities in rats fed one of Monsanto’s GM maize.
Villagers in the south of the Philippines who suffered mysterious illnesses when another GM maize came into flower in a nearby field two years in a row. Antibodies to the Bt protein inserted into the GM maize were found in the villagers.
A dozen cows that died after eating a third GM maize made by Syngenta, and others in the herd had to be slaughtered because of mysterious illnesses.
Senior scientist Arpad Pusztai and colleagues in Scotland found young rats fed GM potatoes ended up with damage in every organ system; the most dramatic being an increase in thickness of the stomach lining to twice that in controls. Scientists in Egypt found similar effects in mice fed GM potatoes with another gene.
The US FDA had data dating back to early 1990s that rats fed GM tomatoes had developed small holes in their stomach.
This information has come more to light in the past 10 years, however the US FDA has not demanded labeling requirements for GMO foods while Europe, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, India and Thailand have banned the import, sale, use and planting of these foods.
Monsanto, a chemical company who has over 4,963 patents on GM foods, which creates a great burden for the farmer and environment, is at the head of the majority of these GM foods. GM crops demand higher levels of toxic herbicides and pesticides, in the past two years they’ve sprayed 153 million more pounds of herbicide on our crops because of the corn and soy Roundup-Ready crops and currently the FDA is looking to approve crops resistant to 2,4-D, which is an element in Agent Orange.
How can one make healthy lifestyle choices if they are not aware of what is in the food they’re eating and the ramifications of eating it? This is a question that has stirred up much controversy in the news and is a hot topic in many documentaries out there like; “Food Inc.,” “Fresh,” “King Corn,” “The Future of Food,” “Forks over Knives” to name a few.
So how can one protect themselves and limit their exposure to these GM foods?
Go organic! It may be more expensive but this is the best insurance policy money will buy.
Eat whole foods only! Most GMOs are in processed and packaged foods.
Avoid at-risk ingredients: Corn products including corn flour, meal, oil, starch, gluten, syrup and modified food starch, sweeteners such as fructose, dextrose, and glucose; soy products including soy flour, lecithin, protein, isolate, and isoflavone, vegetable oil and vegetable protein; as well as canola oil and cotton.
Support legislation that requires labeling of GMO foods.
Grow your own garden using organic seeds or heirloom seeds!
Support your local farmers market or join a CSA and get a basket of fresh fruits and veggies.
For more information, please look for a non-GMO shopping guide.