Green Living QA: What Are GMO’s And Why Are They Bad For Us?
07/17/2012 | 12:04 PM
What are GMO’s and why are the bad for us?
GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are infiltrating everyday foods like flours, cereals, oils, salad dressings, mayonnaise, pies, chips, cookies, fried foods and even candy coatings.
Genetic engineering, or biotech, takes genes from one species and inserts them into the genome of a completely unrelated species using viruses as a carrier. It differs from conventional crop modification and breeding in that it lets scientists (not farmers) achieve results quickly.
Supporters of biotech foods see them as a boon to feeding the hungry and boosting harvests, yet opponents are concerned. Some scientists and food safety advocates have suggested that genetically engineered foods might harm our immune system, lead to dangerous antibiotic resistance or result in new and untreatable allergies. For example, scientists in 1996 inserted a Brazil nut gene into a soybean to make the bean more nutritious. The result was a soybean that triggered nut allergies in people, and the Brazil nut-soybean project came to a halt.
No one knows for sure if GM or genetic engineering safe. We consumers are unknowingly eating these foods and there have been only a limited number of safety tests conducted. Since the jury is still out on what GM could mean for human health and the environment, it’s best to eat organic food to be sure you’re safe.
There is also disturbing evidence that genetically engineered plants are turning up where they're not wanted. This means that if the wind blows seeds from GM crops into a neighboring organic field for example, the produce in that field could no longer be certified organic. Major retail outlets and supermarket chains across Europe will not sell GM foods. Parts of Italy, Poland and Austria are now GMO-free. Even third world countries are wary of GM crops and some countries in Africa like Zambia and Zimbabwe refused the U.S. offer of corn and soybean donations out of fear they would introduce genetically engineered material into their own agriculture.
Be aware that GM foods are not labeled, yet more than 70 percent of processed foods on your grocery store shelves contain genetically engineered ingredients! They come from mainly three crops – corn, soy and canola. They are engineered to do two things: hold up to sprayings of herbicides and resist pests.
My advice is to avoid non-organic corn and soy products, since these will most likely contain GMOs. Read labels...start looking for labels that say No GMOs, or choose Organic, which by law cannot be genetically modified. Also check the PLU or Price Look Up number on the stickers on fruits and vegetables. Conventionally grown produce has four numbers; organically grown has five numbers prefaced by the number 9; GMO produce has five numbers prefaced by the number 8. (Example: conventionally-grown Fuji apple is 4131; organic is 94131; GMO 84131.)
Check Out Our Related Content:
Green Living QA: What Is Monsanto And Is It Dangerous?
Green Living Q&A Library
Everybody Nose: scent-sational essential oil blends to balance and heal.
What's the Alternative?: non-traditional tips for a healthy mind and body.