What is a GMO? Have you ever asked that question before?
The ladies in my free and private community have asked me if GMOs impact food cravings. The answer is unknown.
Over the past few years, there have been some raging debates surrounding GMOs.
Some say that GMOs do not have a negative effect on the body, while others claim supposed unhealthy properties. So what is the deal? Are GMOs as healthy or as bad as we think?
Let’s Answer the Question, “What is a GMO?”
A GMO is defined as a genetically modified organism. In the most simple of terms, they are organisms that have been modified by injecting them with genetic material from another species. They were introduced in 1996 and are now primarily dominate soybeans, corn, and cotton. This new form of science can create unstable combinations of animal, plant, viruses, and bacteria that do not occur naturally.
One form of GMO is “herbicide-tolerant” crops which are also known as “Roundup Ready” crops. They are modified to survive direct applications of herbicides throughout the year.
The Safety Debate with GMOs
In up to 30 different countries around the world including European Union countries, Japan and Australia, GMOs have significant restrictions or even bans because they have been proven to be unsafe.
What is a GMO product capable of doing to people and animals that consume them? Animals who were fed GMOs were shown to develop a myriad of health problems such as allergic reactions, enlarged livers, disturbances in immune systems and disturbances in kidney and heart functions. Unfortunately, in the United States and Canada, GMOs are not labeled or even tracked in our food supply. This makes it almost impossible to conduct any studies between GMOs and problems with human health problems. The lack of information that has proven them unhealthy has made it harder to prove that they are unhealthy.
GMOs have a negative impact on the environment as well. The widespread use and the use of the infamous weed killer Roundup has contributed to new superweeds. When a crop is repeatedly sprayed with Roundup to remove a pest, the weed eventually develops a resistance to the weed killer. In turn, this causes more herbicide to be used to control the weed population.
GMOs and our food supply
GMOs are found in many food products, especially those containing corn and other cereals. You might be asking, “What is a GMO doing in my breakfast bowl? Should it even be there?”
Unfortunately, the battle over GMOs is still raging. As this form of agriculture becomes more popular, more countries are developing GMOs that enter our food supply.
Agricultural products are broken down into two groups: those that are monitored because of suspected contamination and those that are high risk because they are in commercial production. Currently, the crops that are the highest risk of being genetically modified are soy, papaya, cotton, corn, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, zucchini and summer squash. There are other crops that are monitored for GMOs but are less of a risk. Crops such as wheat, flax, and rice are regularly tested for GMOs.
Those who are advocating for the removal of GMOs in our food supply are concerned about the number of GMOs that we eat, and rightly so. It is estimated that up to 86% of the corn and 93% of the soybeans in our country are genetically modified. Even California’s Department of Food and Agriculture has estimated that 70% of the processed foods in supermarkets contain genetically modified ingredients.
Those fighting to remove GMOs from our food supply have one of the biggest governmental agencies to battle. The USDA (the U.S. Department of Agriculture) has decided to not restrict the use of GMO alfalfa. The USDA has also allowed the planting of GMO sugar beets despite a court order to finish an Environmental Impact Statement first.
Tips to avoid them
While GMOs can sound scary, you can avoid them. To do so, aim to buy organic.
Under the law, organic products must be made without the use of genetically modifying the food. In fact, during every stage of the production process, organic producers must take the required steps to ensure the product meets strict guidelines. Land on which organic food is grown must not contain any prohibited substances such as GMOs.
PLU codes on produce items can also tell you if the plant is genetically modified. Produce labeled with a five-digit PLU code that begins with an “8” means that it is genetically modified. Keep in mind however, that a lot of genetically modified produce is not labeled. Produce labeled with a five-digit PLU code that begins with a “9” means that the produce is organic.
Labels that contain ingredients such as corn starch, corn oil, corn syrup, gluten, soy flour, soy protein, soy isolate, a soy isoflavone, soy flour, sugar (with the exception of pure cane), cottonseed oil and vegetable oil are also highly likely to be genetically modified.
While the reality of GMOs is unfortunate, being aware can help you avoid them in your diet. Over time and with research, you will find sources for organic food which will make it easier to live GMO- free. As of 2018 this website is a great resource for all questions around GMO.
Question: What is your position in the GMO debate? Share your thought below.