i was tempted to title this post 'gmo's and what you need to knows', but you get the idea. :) there's been a lot of buzz around gmo's (genetically modified organisms) lately and rightly so, it's a very important subject! GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food and today i hope to give you the essential information on what they are, what you need to know about them, and how you can avoid them. let's go!
what is a GMO?
GMO's, or "genetically modified organisms," are plants or animals that have been created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology. this (very experimental) technology merges DNA from different species which creates an unstable combination of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot naturally occur in nature, or even in traditional crossbreeding.
virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand the direct application of herbicides and insecticides (brilliant, right?). Nope. not only do none of these practices offer increased yield or enhanced nutrition, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs to health problems and environmental damage.
are GMOs safe to eat?
most nations do not consider GMOs safe to eat. in nearly 50 countries around the world (including australia, japan, and the european union) there are heavy restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. in the u.s. however, the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created the GMOs in the first place.
are GMOs labeled?
unfortunately, no. even though polls consistently show that americans want to know which foods contain GMOs, the biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public.
what do GMOs do to the environment?
in short, a lot. over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. as a result, the use of toxix herbicides (think roundup) has increased by 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMO crops are also responsible for things like 'super weeds' and 'super bugs' which can only be killed with more toxic poisons. a major concern is that we don't really know what the long-term effects will be, but we do know that once released into the environment, they cannot be taken back.
so, which foods might be GMO?
there are several foods that are especially at high risk for being GMO. they are:
- sugar beets
- yellow summer squash
- honey and other bee products*
* these are also a major risk because of potential GMO contamination in feed and other inputs.
how can i avoid GMOs?
in the u.s., GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food (think cereals, snack bars, snack boxes, cookies, processed lunch meats, crackers, etc).
- purchase organic foods as much as possible. they will not contain any GMO's (though there is potential for cross contamination from other GMO crops).
- look for the non-GMO project label.
- shop brands that participate in the non-GMO project, see a list of them here.
what else can you do?
- tell the fda to label genetically modified foods! sign the petition here.
- tell grocery store CEOs to refuse monsanto's GMO sweet corn- sign the petition here.
- know what's most important to buy organic by using this guide.
- know your labels - part 1 and part 2!
thank you to the non-gmo project for this great information, pictures and excellent resource guide!