Understanding GMOs

Posted on October 17, 2013

I first wrote about GMOs (genetically modified organisms) about 3 years ago. Since then several states have had measures on the ballot to encourage the labeling of food containing GMOs (see below for most common genetically modified crops) and there has been much more publicity about them. I still feel, though, that a general confusion exists about what GMOs are and why there is such controversy surrounding them.

As the founder of Pure, a company committed to organic and non GMO real food snacks, I feel it is important for us all to understand what GMOs are and why we should avoid them.

According to the Non GMO Project website, GMOs are defined the following way

GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.

Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.

To me, the fact that over 60 other industrialized countries including the European Union, Japan, and Australia ban the use of GMOs is another good reason to be wary of them.

One of the main reasons why GMOs are more prevalent in the US is because Monsanto, a very large corporation based in the US, manufactures Roundup which is the herbicide that most GMOs are genetically modified to be resistant to. Essentially, farmers can drench their crops in Roundup and kill every pest but not the plant itself. Keep in mind that research has linked Roundup to Parkinson’s disease, infertility and cancer and it is currently being studied more in depth by the FDA.

You can help! If enough consumers reject the idea of GMOs, the hope is that manufacturers will stop making these products. How do you know if a product is non-GMO? Even though labeling laws are not enforced, seek out products with a non-GMO verified seal. Also, always buy organic meats and produce to avoid GMOs.

As more seeds are genetically modified, traditional farmers (non-organic) are left with very few options, causing them to buy more Roundup. To learn more about GMOs visit the Non-GMO Project website. For a list of the top GMOs in the US, see below.

– Veronica

Top GMOs in the US

  1. Soy -93% of soy is genetically modified. Buy organic or look for the non GMO seal to avoid genetically modified soy which is in almost every processed food in the form of oil, protein and emulsifiers
  2. Cottonseed -93% of cottonseed is genetically modified.
  3. Canola-90% of canola seed is genetically modified
  4. Sugar Beets -90% of sugar beet crop is genetically modified. Sugar beets are used to produce 54% of the sugar sold in America.
  5. Corn -88% of corn in the US is genetically modified. It is also very prevalent in almost every processed food we buy.
  6. Papaya -75% of the Hawaiian papaya crop is genetically modified
  7. Alfalfa –between 20 and 50% of alfalfa is genetically modified

List of supermarket products containing GMOs