What’s The Hype With GMOs?

No doubt you’ve heard the term GMOs: genetically modified organisms.  There is much controversy with GMOs lately and we wanted to give you a little education.

What Are GMOs / Genetically Engineered Foods?

By definition, GMOs are: “A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.” (source: Wikipedia)

GMO seeds were introduced commercially in 1996 and now dominate the production of corn, soybeans, and cotton in the United States. GMO crops contain one or both of two major categories of traits:

  1. Herbicide-tolerant (HT) crops, more commonly known as “Roundup Ready crops,” are genetically engineered to survive direct application of one or more herbicides during the growing season,chemicals that would otherwise kill or severely stunt the crop.
  2. Bt GM (genetically modified) crops that are engineered to produce toxins…that kill certain agricultural insect pests.

How Widespread Are GMOs In Our Food Supply?

Have you ever wondered just how many GMOs are out there? If not, you might be surprised to learn that 86% of corn and 93% of soybeans grown in the United States is genetically modified. In fact, according to California’s Department of Food and Agriculture, 70% of processed foods in American supermarkets now contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.

You might also be surprised to learn that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has decided to allow the unrestricted use of another GE crop: alfalfa. USDA also decided to continue to allow planting of Roundup Ready sugar beets despite a court order to complete a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before making any decision on deregulation for genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets.

Source:  Organic It’s Worth It

GMOs: To Consume or Not Consume?

Kaiser Permanente, the largest not-for-proft health care organization in the United States, is advising members to reduce their exposure to foods that contain ingredients known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

These ingredients, quietly introduced into our food supply without labels or long-term safety studies, are either banned from or labeled in foods in dozens of countries around the world.

Because these ingredients are largely unknown to American consumers, in its Northwest Fall 2012 newsletter, Kaiser warns of the potential danger GMOs pose both to our health and the national food supply.

According to a recent newsletter from Kaiser Permenante:

“GMOs have been added to our food supply since 1994, but most people don’t know it because the United States does not require labeling of GMOs. As of 2012, most corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, and sugar beets are genetically modified. Nearly 80 percent of processed food and most fast food contain GMOs.

Despite what the biotech industry might say, there is little research on the long-term effects of GMOs on human health. Independent research has found several varieties of GMO corn caused organ damage in rats. Other studies have found that GMOs may lead to an inability in animals to reproduce.”

What Products Contain GMOs or Genetically Engineered Foods?

Many mainstream companies use GMOs.  Actually, most name brands that you probably buy for your family are full of GMOs.  Foods like cereal, bread, crackers, cookies and a ton of packaged products that you may buy everyday!

Some of the foods you should be worried about are:

  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Sugar (beet sugar – i.e. refined sugar)
  • Papayas (from Hawaii)
  • Canola
  • Cotton (cottonseed oil)
  • Dairy (conventional American cow’s milk and cheese)
  • Zucchini/Yellow Squash
  • Conventional Meat (They are fed GM corn & soy)

 

Take a look at this great chart put together from Charlotte’s own FoodBabe.

Recommended Non-GMO Snack Brands:

There are more and more food companies making choices to be non GMO.  Search the Non-GMO website to see a current list of manufacturers who voluntarily label their non GMO foods.

Which Foods Are Not GMO?

Curretnly, certified organic foods are the best bet for the anti-GM consumer.  However, even with the best intentions, companies attempting to exclude GM ingredients from their products have found contamination from GM crops.

De Rit recently had to recall a batch of organic tortilla chips after tests showed that they contained GM maize. The company believes that cross-pollination of crops was to blame.  Iceland, the only supermarket chain to try to ban GM ingredients from its own-brand products, recently wrote to its suppliers acknowledging that some GM contamination is unavoidable, because of cross-pollination of crops. The Linda McCartney range of vegetarian meals has also been discovered to be contaminated with GM soya.

Meanwhile, organic farming is under threat from the biotech companies. In the U.S., lawyers from the biotech companies are trying to force the government to require that GM crops can be declared organic. Some U.S. states have succumbed to Monsanto’s pressure and banned GM-free labels on food. Monsanto has successfully sued dairy farmers who labelled dairy products as free or Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone.

Due to so-called free trade agreements established by the World Trade Organisation, it may become illegal for individual countries to maintain higher organic standards than the U.S. So what happens in the U.S. has a direct knock-on effect on Europe.

 

How To Impact Companies Who Produce GMOs

Without legislation or proper labeling, the only true way we can impact the companies who produce GMOs is simple:  DO NOT BUY THESE PRODUCTS.

 

Controversy About Labeling GMOs / Genetically Engineered Foods

More than 50 countries have banned the use of GMOs in their food supply (including most European countries).

In the USA, there is much controversy about labeling and each state is gaining ground to get this ban accomplished.  As of now, no labeling laws exist in the USA and we (consumers) do NOT know when we are eating GMOs.

There is a movement called Just Label It and we highly encourage you to read and support this movement if this issue is important to you.

Other Information

The internet has so much information about GMOs.  Here are a few of our favorite articles and sites:

GMOs 101

Non-GMO website

How To Avoid GMOs When Eating Out

10 Reasons To Say No To GMO Foods

Non-GMO Shopping Guide (Download and/or App for phone)

Genetic Roulette Movie

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