With all the hype about biotech foods in the past few years it can get confusing as to what you should eat, what to buy, and why. Genetic modification doesn’t mean your food is crawling with harmful parasites or compounds created in the lab by mad scientists, but it does mean that the food you are eating has been altered.
What Does Non-GMO Mean?
Genetically Modified Organisms or (GMO) are organisms that have been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Using DNA technology, the molecules are combined to create a set of genes, and then the altered DNA is transferred to give it new genes, thus GMOs are constituents of genetically modified foods.
The controversy surrounding the use of genetically-modified foods is growing as groups and individuals alike view the topic with opposing views. Some feel the generation and use of GMOs is intolerable and believe that the potential negative ramifications of genetic manipulation are unavoidable. Others see genetic modification as simply a continuation of humans selecting specimens with the most desirable characteristics to use, as the next step in the evolution of crops.
Are GMOs Safe?
The United States is currently the largest commercial producer of genetically modified crops on the planet. In the U.S., GMOs can be found in about 80% of processed food. GMOs are released under approval of the APHIS, or Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Agency and the USDA, United States Department of Agriculture. However in 2004, Medocino County California became the first county to impose a ban on the “Propagation, Cultivation, Raising, and Growing of Genetically Modified Organisms” and the measure passed with a 57% majority. Today, nearly 50 countries around the globe including Australia, Japan and all of the countries in the European Union have restrictions and even bans on the production, and sale of GMOs.
What Do GMO’s Do to My Body?
A 2009 study published by the International Journal of Biological Sciences analyzed the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health. It was found that GMOs may contribute to weight gain and organ failure in rats. Researchers found that “Three varieties of Monsanto’s GM corn – Mon 863, insecticide-producing Mon 810, and Roundup® herbicide-absorbing NK 603 – were approved for consumption by US, European and several other national food safety authorities.” (1)
The author of the study called the the GM methods used by Monsanto “a very serious mistake, dramatic for public health.” Researchers noted the negative effects were concentrated mostly in the kidney, and liver (the two most important detoxification organs). Researchers also said that GMOs “… have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown.”
Easy-to-Use Shopping List
Reading labels for nutritional information can be enough to worry about when you are trying to pick up the groceries. Go here to download an easy shopping guide you can take along to make keeping GMOs away from your table easier.
The Institue for Responsible Technology is comprehensive source of GMO health risk information online. Learn more about GMO’s in food here.
1) de Vendômois JS, Roullier F, Cellier D, Séralini GE. A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health. Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5(7):706-726. Available fromhttp://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm