The term GMO has become increasingly popular over the last few years. Interestingly, though most folks have heard of GMOs, many still have little to no idea what the term actually means. This topic is the inspiration for our blog post this week: What is a GMO and how does it affect your family’s health?
What is a GMO?
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is a plant or animal that’s had its DNA altered genetically. What does this mean? Genes are inserted from other organisms to “improve” the GMO – making the product grow faster or larger, produce it’s own pesticides, or build up an immunity to drought.
Well that doesn’t sound so bad, we all want our fruits and veggies to flourish and if they can be resistant to pests and droughts all the better – right? Not really. Frequently when you alter DNA there are consequences. Sure, you may get larger produce, but do you really want to eat something that’s been genetically modified? Let’s be honest – a squash isn’t quite as appealing when you know it is only as large as it is because of the addition of mouse genes!
Shhh, GMOs are a Secret.
The scariest part about GMOs is that they have been infiltrating our food for over twenty years and it’s been kept pretty quiet. Up until a few years ago, most folks had never even heard the term GMO, but were regularly consuming foods that were genetically modified. Don’t believe me? Go to your pantry and pick up a can, look at the ingredients. Does the label include: citric acid, lactic acid, fructose, glucose, maltodextrin, dextrin, dextrose, or xanthan gum? Your food has been genetically modified.
The public has been left in the dark. In fact, any debate over GMOs is quickly hushed. Take California for an example. California’s Proposition 37 proposed requiring manufacturers to identify products using GMO ingredients. What was the result? It was quickly eliminated by industry money. It makes you wonder: what are they hiding? Considering the fact that an estimated 70% of the food found on most grocery store shelves has some bio-engineered ingredients, I’d say we need some answers.
Are GMOs Safe?
Honestly, we don’t have enough concrete data. The true answers may only come to light many years from now. However, this much we know: the food industry is a money-making business and sadly, many times it’s at the expense of our health. The mentality is such that since no danger has been proven, the foods must be safe. Do you believe that? We don’t, and here’s why.
First, why the big secret? Why not tell people what’s in the food they’re eating and about the process of how it was grown. The secretive air that surrounds GMOs is worrying. Second, there are valid concerns – Scientists around the world, including those at the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, have expressed as much. Studies performed on animals have linked GMO foods to fertility problems, weakened immune function, and organ damage among other things. GMO companies such as Monsanto, Bayer, BASF and Pioneer Hi-Bred would like you to believe that there is no difference between genetic engineering and traditional breeding techniques. Argue with a GMO proponent long enough and they will eventually try to tell you that there is no difference between conventional breeding techniques and genetic engineering except for the time frame involved. Not True. Conventional breeding takes one strain of a certain crop, such as corn, and breeds it with another strain of that crop. Genetic engineering takes genetic material from one species, such as soil bacteria, and inserts it into a crop, such as corn. This can be done by a variety of techniques, such as the use of gene guns to fire the genetic material into the cell of the target organism, an inherently imprecise process that leads to random and unintended genetic combinations.
Want to fully understand the dangers of GMO’s? Please check out the Corbett Report….The Five GMO myths Busted.
- Eat organic foods. Sure, this isn’t 100% foolproof – GMO pollen can contaminate other crops. However, it will definitely reduce exposure. Look for the USDA organic seal on products. On fresh produce, make sure the PLU code starts with a “9” – that means it’s organic.
- Become familiar with your labels. Speaking of the stickers on your produce, they’re not just there for the cashier to charge you the correct price, they also identify how the food was grown. If the number starts with an 8 avoid it – it’s been genetically modified. If it starts with a 3 or 4 this indicates it was grown conventionally.
- Take care of your immune system. Some research indicates GMO foods have a negative effect on your gut – affecting the digestive lining and natural enzymes. A quality pro-biotic, taken daily, will help maintain a healthy digestive balance.
- Look for hidden GMO ingredients. Many GMOs are hidden ingredients. Citric acid, dextrin, dextrose, tocopherols, lactic acid, fructose, glucose, maltodextrin, xanthan gum, and guar gum are just a few of the many hidden GMO ingredients.
At Atlas we think GMOs are bad news and should be avoided. Choosing quality nutrition is becoming increasingly difficult in this modern world. Our nutritionists can help you sort through all the food politics, allowing you to make healthy dietary choices for you and your family. Contact us today, we’re eager to get started!
References: The Ten most common GMO foods.