What You Need To Know About GMOs

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If you are like me, you probably think you know what you need to know about GMOs. The word gets thrown around a lot especially by organizations that are fighting for environmental protections, promoting clean food eating, and encouraging sustainable agriculture. However, just because you hear it a lot, does not mean that you know what it is.

A Genetically Modified Organism, or GMO, is any plant or animal created in a lab by altering the genetic makeup through genetic engineering such as gene splicing, gene modification or transgenic technology.

What you need to know about GMOs is that this science is relatively new. Furthermore, we know that it creates unstable groupings of plant and animal genes that do not occur through traditional methods of cross-breeding or in nature. In other words, these new creations do not occur naturally.

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What Else We Don’t Know About GMOs

What you need to know about GMOs, but don’t, is their long-term effects on human health and the environment. In fact, currently, there have been no epidemiological studies investigating the potential effects of GMO food on people’s health. Furthermore, there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs.

Besides the U.S. and Canada, most developed nations consider GMOs to be unsafe and have placed restrictions or total bans on the production and sale of GMOs. The U.S. and Canada have approved output and sale of GMOs based on individual studies.

However, it turns out that most of the research and studies that claim that GMOs are safe have been carried out by the same corporations and biotechnology companies that created them and profit from their sale. With that said; I’m not sure that they have my best interests at heart.

What You Need To Know About GMOs When Shopping

Many of the products we consume daily contain genetic modifications. Moreover, the number of GMOs available for commercial use grows every year. Much of the corn, soy, canola, and sugar beets that are cultivated in the U.S. are now genetically engineered and are common ingredients in processed foods. Check out the top 10 worst GMO foods list. 

Four Simple Tips to Avoid GMOs

  1. Purchase foods that are certified USDA Organic. Certified Organic products cannot knowingly include any GMOs. Better yet, start growing organic food yourself!
  2. Look for Non-GMO Project verified seals. The Non-GMO Project Standard requires testing for high-risk ingredients for GMO contamination. A high-risk label is given, by the Non-GMO project, to an ingredient if it is derived from, contains derivatives of, or is produced through a process involving organisms that are known to be genetically modified and commercially produced.
  3. Avoid High-Risk Ingredients. These may include soy, corn, canola, papaya, aspartame, zucchini, and sugar. Moreover, if it is not pure cane sugar, then it probably has GM ingredients.
  4. Buy products listed in the Non-GMO Shopping Guide. Also, check out the free iPhone app available from iTunes from the Non-GMO Project that allows you to search for products verified as non-GMO.

What You Need To Know About GMOs and Labeling

The United States does not follow suit with the more than 64 other countries that require mandatory GMO labeling. The opponents argue that it unfairly implies that GMO foods are unsafe. Yes, the impact is not entirely known yet, but I think we can all agree that, as consumers, we have the right to know what is in our food.

Furthermore, when you consider that manufacturers must currently label foods that are from concentrate or homogenized, then it seems plausible that GMO labeling is simply one more piece of information to help consumers make informed decisions.

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Structural model of glyphosate molecule on the blackboard.

Where To Start When You Know About GMOs

If it seems too daunting to make the switch to Non-GMO foods all at once, then just start with a few items in your diet. Maybe, start with a breakfast item or snacks, and work your way through to dinner ingredients.

Buying organic may seem expensive so you may try locating some local farmer’s markets in your area. The best thing to do is become aware of what ingredients are in your food like Glyphosate in Roundup, and what companies are using GMOs including Monsanto. Check out Food Babe or Food Democracy Now to help you learn how to investigate your food.

It is always in your best interest to be an informed consumer. Visit the Institute For Responsible Technology as a comprehensive source of GMO health.

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