This post will give a general overview of GMO foods and the controversy surrounding them. GMO stands for genetically-modified organisms, and describes the technology used to manipulate DNA and create genes in foods that do not occur naturally. Bioengineers of these foods claim numerous benefits to genetic modification, including reduced use of pesticides, increased yield of crops, and economic and environmental benefit (due to decreased use of pesticides).
Dr. Kathy Gruver, a health and wellness expert who holds a PhD in natural health, states that GMO’s pose numerous potential risks. One of the biggest concerns is that consumers become a type of “experiment”, as it is not known what health effects these foods will produce, and it is in the hands of food companies to decide whether these products are safe. Additionally, because DNA differs from person to person, consuming food that has been genetically modified adds to the unpredictability of its effects on humans. Dr. Gruver also mentions that in-vitro studies have shown that GMO’s have the potential to increase allergies and resistance to antibiotics. Another problem with having farms and fields of GMO foods is that animals or natural forces (such as wind) can transport the seeds produced by the crops, causing them to unknowingly grow anywhere.
It is estimated that about more than 75% of all soybeans, over 50% of cotton, over 25% of corn, and 25% of canola worldwide is genetically modified, and as a result, about 75% of processed foods in the U.S. has some sort of genetically-modified ingredient. There are no regulations that require food manufacturers to list genetically-modified ingredients on their labels, therefore the general public may be unaware that they are consuming these foods.
The Non-GMO Project divides these food products into two groups: high risk and monitored risk. Alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, zucchini and yellow summer squash are among high risk crops. Monitored risk products are suspected to have GMO’s, and include chard, beets, rutabaga, bok choy, turnip, acorn squash, flax, rice, and wheat. Additionally, meat products from animals that consume these crops may contain GMO’s.
If you would like to explore non-GMO food items, check out The Non-GMO Project’s list of non-GMO products, restaurants, and retailers: http://www.nongmoproject.org/find-non-gmo/search-participating-products/
Do you have an iPhone? You can also download their convenient app here: http://www.nongmoproject.org/find-non-gmo/iphone-app-shopping-guide/
The Non-GMO shopping guide also provides another list of non-GMO foods: http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/
Lang, J. T. (2013). Elements of public trust in the American food system: Experts, organizations, and genetically modified food. Food Policy, 41, 145-154.
What is GMO?. (n.d.). Non-GMO Project. Retrieved July 1, 2013, from http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/
Whelan, C. (2013, June 26). Genetically Modified Foods: Why One Expert Wants Them Out Of Your Kitchen. CBS Dallas / Fort Worth. Retrieved July 1, 2013, from http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2013/06/26/genetically-modified-foods-why-one-expert-wants-them-out-of-your-kitchen/