Have you ever heard of a GMO? How about a GMO as it pertains to our food? If you haven’t, you are not alone. GMOs are quite common in our food supply, yet they have a very mysterious way of disguising themselves throughout our grocery store shelves. Thus, I have provided the ABCs to GMOs in hopes of providing a clear understanding to this confusing alphabet soup.
A GMO is a genetically modified organism. Genetic modification is the process of adding or removing genes from an organism’s DNA; these genes can be derived from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals, or even humans. The most commonly genetically modified (GM) foods are soybeans, corn, cottonseed, canola and recently sugar beets; many of these foods have had their natural DNA altered with the insertion of bacterial genes. GMOs make up approximately 70% of our food supply, which are primarily found in processed foods1.
Basis for GMOs
My optimistic self wants to believe that the basis for GMOs came from good intentions, such as preventing a famine. However, common sense tells me that it’s possibly one of the worst ideas that came true to form. Why you ask? Many genetically modified (GM) foods are created to withstand large quantities of herbicides, poisons that kill unwanted plants, which in turn allow crops to flourish while everything else dies around them. While this method has been known to deliver an abundance of food to our dinner tables, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the healthiest of foods. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to ingest food that survives poison, while every other living thing dies near it. Additionally, I have not been genetically modified to withstand such a toxin nor will I ever want to be for that matter.
Concerns about GMOs
GMOs have been known to cause a wealth of health concerns, including a rise in allergies, especially among young children, weakened immune and digestive systems and organ failure among mammals. According to a recent study, genetically modified corn has been linked to kidney and liver (both detoxifying organs) failure in rats. Additionally, GM foods have not been around long enough for us to truly understand the long term effects they may have on our body.
What is also alarming is that the vast amount of our livestock is fed genetically modified feed, which can not only have adverse affects on the animal, but on us as well. I am constantly reminded by the phrase, “you are what you eat,” and in this case you are what the animal and plant eats – poison. Not only are excessive amounts of poison proven unhealthy, but they are extremely harmful to the environment.
So, what can we do to avoid these type of foods? Unfortunately, we do not have clear labels that easily identify genetically modified foods. However, there is good news! You can avoid GMOs by eating organic foods – just look for the official USDA organic label. By law, these foods cannot be altered from their natural state. Additionally, you can download the following “non-GMO shopping guide” to assist you on your next shopping trip.
Are you unsure about the foods that are currently in your pantry? Do you have additional questions about GMOs? Would you like support and guidance to improve your health? Please leave questions and comments below!
Natalie Drugan, Founder of Brumberry and Certified HealthCounselor
Brumberry is my nutrition and lifestyle counseling practice. I offer counseling (in-person and by phone nationwide) to individuals and groups who want to improve their health and happiness. I empower individuals to make healthy and informed choices that significantly improve their diet and lifestyle.