As I have been sharing information with others about GMOs I have been finding that many people have not heard this term or do not know what it means, so here’s a quick bit of info.
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism – another term commonly used is GE – Genetically Engineered. The process of Genetically Engineering or Modifying an organism involves inserting genetic material (DNA) from one species into the genetic material of another species to try to produce a desired effect not naturally found in the target species. This may be plant to plant, animal to animal, or cross animal and plant as in the tomato modified with genes from the flounder to make it resistant to freezing (I’m not making that up – search “fish tomato”). The risk with this process is that while the desired effect may be accomplished (soy more resistant to chemical herbicide, corn resistant to pests, salmon growth rate increased), the genetic material may be compromised in a way that results in undesirable or even dangerous effects such as production of allergens or toxins. Currently there are no regulations requiring safety testing for GMOs.
It should also be noted that as all things in nature are constantly evolving, weeds have become more resistant to the chemicals that GMO crops were engineered to resist, requiring higher doses of chemical herbicides. On the other hand not all things in nature evolve quickly enough to survive, and as such we are seeing the population of bees and butterflies on the decline as they are falling victim to the toxins in these new organisms taking over the plains.
Unfortunately GMOs have a strong presence in our food supply – about 90% of corn, canola, and cotton crops are genetically modified, as well as about 95% of the soy and sugar beet crops. Packaged goods with ingredients such as High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Soy Lecithin, Soybean Oil, Canola Oil, Monosodium Glutamate, Flavorings, Colorings, and many more are most likely made from genetically modified ingredients.
Outside the US many countries have either passed laws requiring the labeling of genetically engineered ingredients in products, or have banned them altogether. This year Maine and Connecticut passed GMO labeling laws and many other states are pursuing legislation to require labeling.
If you are living in a location that does not currently require labeling you can look for the Non GMO Project seal (see image below). This seal is granted to products that have undergone testing to verify that they do not contain genetically modified ingredients. You can find more information at their website: http://www.nongmoproject.org/
They also have a fantastic report with more info you can check out. I haven’t read the whole paper yet – it’s long, but has tons of great info: GMO Myths and Truths
- GMO 101 … a gut feeling (omamas.com)
- Hell no, GMO! Are you eating Frankenfood? I bet you are (thetruthaboutnoms.wordpress.com)