Monday, September 23, 2013

GMO (Genetically Modified Organism)

The onslaught of lab-created and altered food is really discouraging. It can also be harder to know where our food comes from. Educating yourself on where you get your food, and its sources, can be a great defence to your health.
Genetically modified foods
may look more appetizing,
but may be detrimental
to your health.

What is a GMO?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, an organism in which part of its make up has been altered through genetic engineering, or manipulation of an organism’s DNA in a laboratory setting.

In relation to the food we eat, this process enhances crops to make them more desirable to the customer and more cost effective, in general, to grow.

These crops are generally resistant to cold weather or pests, have a larger yield, need less attention, and have a more pleasing appearance (larger, brighter) for increased sales.

Am I eating GMOs?

It can be very challenging to stay up-to-date on all the commercial products that contain GMOs. According to the Non GMO Project, the following are considered high-risk crops:
  • Alfalfa
  • Canola
  • Corn
  • Cotton
  • Papaya
  • Soy
  • Sugar Beets
  • Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash
To add to this, most animal products (dairy, meat, eggs, honey) are high risk, simply because these animals feed on these high-risk crops.

Other crops to be careful of, include:
  • Beta vulgaris (chard, table beets, etc.)
  • Brassica napa (rutabaga, Siberian kale, etc.)
  • Brassica rapa (bok choy, Chinese cabbage, turnip, rapini, etc.)
  • Curcubita (acorn squash, etc.)
  • Flax
  • Rice
  • Wheat
These crops are suspected, or have known incidence of contamination with GMOs, or have genetically modified relatives with which cross contamination is possible.

Is it safe to consume GMO foods?

We are far from understanding the truth about the safety and/or dangers of consuming GMOs. There is no question that much (MUCH) more 3rd party research needs to be done (currently much of the research is performed, or sponsored by Monsanto, the leading producer of genetically engineered seed). Many of these studies state that these foods are safe for human consumption. Many activists, health professionals, and others, rightly so, question the reliability of these studies. There are 30 countries in which bans or restrictions on the production of GMOs are in place, because they are not considered proven safe for consumption. Currently, North America has adopted none of these policies.

Can I eliminate GMOs from my diet?

Trying to eliminate GMOs from a diet is extremely difficult, sometimes near impossible, because of their presence in most mass-produced foods. In North America, the government does not mandate labels for GMO food. Some companies are now voluntarily labelling their foods non-GMO to better educate the public about ‘safer’ options.

For now, it is in the public’s best interest to educate themselves, to the best of their ability, on non-GMO foods and choose these whenever possible. The truth is, we don’t know that they are dangerous, or that they can be directly related to disease or health issues, but we also can’t say for sure that they are not. Until we know more about the long-term side effects of genetically engineered foods, it’s best to be cautious.

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