What the Heck is a GMO?

What the Heck is a GMO?   

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:

  1. 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.NonGMOProjectLabel
  2. Look for third party certification verifying there are no GMOs – like the Non-GMO project label to the right.



I am just beginning to delve into the GMO topic.  It is a huge topic and I urge you to learn more.  Stay tuned here and on my Facebook and twitter feeds as I will be passing on what I learn.   

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?

6 Responses to What the Heck is a GMO?

  1. Brenna September 16, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    The GMO issue is such a complicated one. I am perhaps one of the odd green bloggers out because I don’t think it is all bad, but there are lots of reasons to not trust the big biotech corporations. I like the idea of labeling so we can make our own choices, but I think we are going to be surprised when we find out just how much is recombinant.

    • Kristina September 17, 2013 at 8:32 am #

      Good points Brenna. You may be right thinking they are not all that bad. What I don’t like is all the secrecy and lack of real independent testing. Again, I am no expert in this, just my observations.

  2. Anna@Green Talk September 17, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    I am glad you wrote this article. So many people have no idea of the harm of GMOs.

    • Kristina September 17, 2013 at 8:24 am #

      Exactly why I wrote this Anna. I am by far no expert, but the little I hear about what a GMO actually is and the lack of testing seriously concerns me!

  3. Jenny B September 17, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    Definitely important information! So many people are confused by why they should care about GMO’s. I will share this with my networks!

    • Kristina September 17, 2013 at 8:27 am #

      Thanks Jenny. I find most people don’t even really know what they are. It can all be so overwhelming. You try to be healthy but there are issues that many average people have no clue about. Through no fault of their own, they could be damaging their bodies.

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