GMO. We hear the word batted around on the news, in magazines and at the grocery store. But do you really know what they are?
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. GM plants (genetically modified, as they are referred to) have had their DNA altered through genetic engineering techniques. We aren’t talking about cross pollination here. This is done in a lab at the gene/DNA level.
Example: GMO Corn
DNA from one organism, say bacteria, is injected into another organism, say corn. Some sweet corn has been genetically altered so that its DNA includes an insect-killing gene from bacteria. The corn is now able to kill insects all on its own without the use of insecticides. Sounds like it might be useful. Reduce the pesticide use, right? Wrong. According to Just Label It!, recent evidence shows that these pests are becoming resistant to the insect-killing agent in Bt Corn. As a result, insecticides are still being sprayed on Bt Corn. Then think about the corn itself. What happens to the corn? We eat it. Would you want to eat insecticide?
GMOs linked to Diseases
Many people believe that GMOs play at least some role in celiac disease, food allergies, auto immune diseases, and even leukemia. I was dumb-founded at the evidence presented in the film Genetic Roulette. As far as I know, there isn’t conclusive evidence linking GMOs to diseases, but it just may be that the studies have been suppressed or haven’t been given funding.
For me, I see such an increase in food allergies, food intolerances, ADD/ADHA and autism now compared to when I was growing up. Something is going on. Peanut free tables and classrooms are common place in schools. I never ever remember knowing or meeting one person of my age group allergic to peanuts. Now, I can name at least 10 my children know without trying very hard.
How To Avoid GMOs
Many countries around the world label GMOs. 64 countries and counting. Some have even banned GMOs. The U.S. as a whole, is not among them. There is information floating around the internet claiming you can use the PLU codes found on produce. Unfortunately, this is not reliable. Using the GMO designation (the number 8) is optional. With all the controversy, I’d be very surprised to find anything labeled with the number 8.
Maine and Connecticut recently passed legislation to require labeling of GMOs. Chipotle is now, voluntarily, labeling all of their ingredients. 23 states have introduced labeling legislation just this year – including Massachusetts.
For now, if you want to avoid GMOs:
- Buy USDA certified organic – organic foods can NOT contain GMOs. This is especially important for the top GMOs crops – corn, soy, canola, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa, sugar beets, zucchini and yellow summer squash.
- Look for third party certification verifying there are no GMOs – like the Non-GMO project label to the right.
Washington state is gearing up for a vote this November. If you know anyone who lives in Washington State, send them the link and ask them to #Yeson522.
Are you concerned about GMOs?