When I first learned about Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, I was shocked that this kind of thing was happening in our food system. I am not a nutritionist, or scientist, but as a health conscious, concerned and aware individual the idea behind GMOs just plain scared me. It still does.
What is a Genetically Modified Organism
It sounds like something out of a science fiction thriller and, in some ways, it is quite similar to Frankenstein’s laboratory. Genetically Modified Organisms are artificially created through the science of biotechnology. They occur when the DNA from a plant or animal is sliced into the DNA of another plant or animal. The result is a food stuff that does not and cannot occur naturally in nature, either from evolution or crossbreeding. Therefore, our bodies are not naturally in tune with the absorption and processing of this food stuff.
Why would we want GMOs at all?
The argument in favour of GMOs is that they create a more sustainable food system. A genetically modified cob of corn, for example, is altered to ensure it stays fresher longer, leading to less food wastage. Pro-GMO supporters will argue that technology such as this is the only way to feed a hungry world.
The case against GMOs
I have to ask: is this the best way to feed the world? We don’t yet know the ramifications of ingesting food that our bodies are not naturally equipped to digest and process. We don’t yet know if there is a better, safer way to produce crops that can feed the world. We don’t know because we are hung up on this way, a way that (coincidentally?) leads to greater profit for a lucky few. In fact, a report was released in May of this year by prominent scientists claiming that GMOs are not needed to sustain the world need for food, but what’s more they aren’t safe either. You can read this report, all about the myths and facts of GMOs here. A main concern with GMOs, as cited in the report, is their intimate relationship with pesticides like RoundUp.
RoundUp has been shown in research studies to mimic estrogen in the body, creating breast cancer cells. So why are we allowing these products to be in our food system? One of the study authors says: “The GMO industry is built on myths.” Again, we have to look closely at who stands to profit here.
What can we do?
The food industry, and political leaders, have actually made it quite difficult to avoid GMO foods. The fact is, it is not required that a food product be labelled “GMO.” The best prescription is to eat mainly organic, as organic foods are less likely to be genetically altered, to look for labels that have the NonGMO seal and to be aware of which foods are considered “highrisk” (of being genetically altered) (take a look at this list here). Know that some foods are Non-GMO but don’t (yet!) contain the seal. At Wise Bites we have carefully chosen ingredients that are Non-GMO and we are impatiently waiting to obtain our seal from the Non-GMO project verification folks.
We can also lobby our government officials and join the fight against GMO products. We can choose to be more aware, to spread knowledge of this unsafe practice, now in what is known as non-GMO month and always.Image Copyright: pogonici / 123RF Stock Photo