1/8/13

What do you know about GMO?

Someone recently asked me why a packaged food label said "Non-GMO." Since my blog focuses on good health through nutrition, I feel compelled to educate my readers about GMO - genetically modified organisms. The truth about what are being called "frankenfoods" is frightening, and it's time my readers - and the public - educates themselves about what is in their food.
You might not see blue tomatoes at the supermarket,
but it's what you can't see in your food which might scare you.
Photo from rareseeds.com

A company I order my garden seeds from, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, defines GMO as follows:
"A Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) results from a discipline called Genetic Engineering which involves taking genes from one species and inserting them into another. For example, genes from an arctic flounder which has "antifreeze" properties may be spliced into a tomato to prevent frost damage. It is impossible to guide the insertion of the new gene. This can lead to unpredictable effects. Also, genes do not work in isolation but in highly complex relationships which are still not fully understood. Any change to the DNA at any point will affect it throughout its length in ways scientists cannot predict. The claim by some that they can is both arrogant and untrue."

The Institute for Responsible Technology defines GMO as:
"A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Because this involves the transfer of genes, GMOs are also known as "transgenic" organisms. This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same."

Just reading these two definitions should be enough to make someone what to know more. 'Don't think this is something which affects you? Consider this: currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S. include soy (94%), cotton (88%), canola (88%), corn (88%), Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%), zucchini and yellow squash (small amount), sugar beets, and tobacco (Quest® brand).

Products derived from the above list are other major sources of GMOs in our foods, including oils from all four grains, soy protein, soy lecithin, cornstarch, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup, among others.  You need to also beware of GMOs in (look for "Non-GMO Project" verified seals on packaging):
  • meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals that have eaten GM feed (and the majority of the GM corn and soy is used for feed);
  • dairy products from cows injected with rbGH (a GM hormone);
  • food additives, enzymes, flavorings, and processing agents, including the sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet®) and rennet used to make hard cheeses; and honey and bee pollen that may have GM sources of pollen.
  • non-food items that may contain GM ingredients include cosmetics, soaps, detergents, shampoo and bubble bath. Pharmaceutical companies use Aspartame in some laxatives, supplements and children’s vitamins.
What else can you do? Buy certified organic products, which, by law, cannot intentionally include any GMO ingredients; grow your own vegetables from non-GMO seeds, and educate yourself with the resources listed below. You might also go eat in Europe, where at least 174 regions, more than 4,500 councils and local governments have declared themselves GM free. Even in our most liberal state, California, the referendum to to label GMOs was shot down in the last election, thanks to the onslaught of big money from big food and chemical companies, like Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Co, Kraft, Dow, Dupont, and others.

The movie documentary "Food Inc," which I've recommended in the past, includes eye-opening cases involving farmers and the large corporations which create GMO seeds. Additionally, much has been written about GMOs, so I won't try to duplicate the info. Here are a few hot links to good sources of information, to help increase your knowledge, and, I hope, lead you to better decisions about what you are eating:

Please - don't wait another day to learn what GMOs are and how the are deteriorating your health.