You've probably heard about GMO's on the news...maybe you've even noticed "made with genetically modified ingredients" listed in ingredients. But what in the world ARE they?
GMO's (genetically modified organisms) are supposed to be the answer to end world hunger.
....they're supposed to prevent farmers from losing crops to pests-
And they're designed to withstand tons of chemical herbicide...like 300 million pounds every year. The common herbicide of choice? Roundup- with it's carcinogenic main ingredient glyphosate.
But that's not all.
In order to make seeds pest, disease, or weather resistant, scientists have to mess around with the genetic sequencing by combining two items that could NEVER naturally reproduce...
sort of like how we never see little puppy kittens running around...
polar bear people who love frigid Midwest winters.
That'd just be wrong, right?
But wait- we've had hybrid fruits and vegetables forever, isn't that the same thing as a GMO?
Remember, genetic modification combines items that could never- you know- get it on
through cross-pollination by wind, bees...or farmers cross-pollinating seeds within the SAME botanical species.
GMO's are sometimes combined by crossing biological kingdoms (and you thought you'd never use 7th grade science class again).
So that means...
the result of genetic modification essentially creates a new genetic sequence...not great for those with allergies. Because if you're eating an ear of corn why would you ever expect it to have soy...or egg...or MOLD in it?
In the United States, nearly 90% of our corn and over 90% of our soy is genetically modified.
I'll give you a second to reread that last sentence.
Wheat, cotton, sugar beets, zucchini, papaya, and canola are also commonly genetically modified. Don't overlook your high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, and yeast.
Oh, by the way, if cows/chickens/turkeys are given feed with GMO's, guess who also ends up ingesting them?
How do you know if a food has been genetically modified?
That's the thing- you really don't.
The United States fits into neither category.
We tried, but as soon as Vermont's GMO labeling law went into effect in 2016, it was essentially reversed the next month when the DARK Act was enacted allowing companies the option to label genetically modified ingredients or products.
Apparently, companies complained that it's too expensive for them to change their packaging to accommodate states that required labeling. Yes, these are the same companies that have different packaging for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter...take your dog to work day...
Companies were also concerned that consumers would regard their GMO product unsafe.
Why would they think that? Genetic modifications were patented in 1980. They hit the grocery shelves in '94 and were worldwide in mass amounts by 1999.
Maybe consumers have noticed that over the past 20 years
- food allergies in the US have increased over 50%...
- The "CDC reported a 265% increase in the rates of hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions in a ten year period"
- US young adults born in 1990 have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer
- today 1 in 3 US kids has allergies, asthma, ADHD, or autism
Need a second to reread that last one?
Maybe you think the statistics are skewed, or you believe GMO's are as wonderful Monsanto claims...maybe you're right, BUT...
we have the right to know what we're eating, if it's been genetically modified, and if we want to feed it to ourselves and our families.
So, how do we do that?
We have a few options...
1. Check the ingredients- occasionally you'll see a (small) note that genetically engineered ingredients have been used
2. Produce that "doesn't bruise," "doesn't brown," or has an extensive shelf-life is likely a GMO. Arctic Apples, Simplot russet potatoes, and Del Monte's pink pineapple are all genetically modified
3. USDA Organic seal means ingredients are sourced non-GMO, but it doesn't guarantee that there wasn't accidental contamination at some point.
4. Non-GMO Project verified...the butterfly. This is currently the ONLY 3rd party verification that ensures that every listed ingredient does not contain GMO's.
5. Any Trader Joe's product with the Trader Joe's name on it is also guaranteed non-GMO...a good peace of mind...but I'd still like to see the butterfly on their packaging.
Fortunately, almost 40,000 products carry the Non-GMO project verified seal- with more requesting certification daily.
Hang on a minute, what about the companies that say GMO’s are perfectly safe? Even the American Heart Association says they might "be used to improve public health" Funny little tidbit there...Monsanto supports the American Heart Association with "significant funding."
Oh, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics? Splenda is a corporate sponsor of theirs…just in case you wondered why they’re pro-synthetic sugars.
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