A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose DNA or genetic makeup has been altered. GMOs include bacteria, fish, insects, plants, and even mammals. Scientists have been modifying or engineering the genetic makeup of our food supply for at least two decades to add new traits to a species or remove or suppress natural trails the engineers/corporations don’t want. They do this by splicing genes from one organism, for example, a fish, and add it into the DNA of a food seed, such as corn.
This is why many people refer to GMO crops as “Frankencrops.” What if you’re allergic to nuts and the food you’re eating has genes spliced from a nut? This happened with Brazil nuts in 1996 and was deemed responsible for many severe reactions, including deaths.
There is not one published, peer-reviewed report or study stating that GMOs are safe. Just because a company says their product is safe and the government approves that product doesn’t mean that it is safe. The list of chemicals that were approved and once considered safe for heavy usage but are now banned is almost too long to keep track of. Toxins such as asbestos, DDT, and PCBs were among the most dangerous, but at one time deemed perfectly safe by the government.
Unfortunately, to date, the U.S. government believes that the producer/corporation has the right/choice to disclose whether or not it uses GMOs in its food rather than you and me having the right to know what’s in our food supply. There is growing opposition to this in many states. Keep an eye out and pitch in when you can if you see any legislation banning GMOs or requiring GMO labeling on products. The problem is that companies like Monsanto, Dow, and DuPont spend millions of dollars on lobbying and seem to have a revolving door policy, continually cycling through employee after employee into the government, and back. These companies routinely get politicians to sponsor legislation or add regulations onto larger bills that benefit their businesses at our expense.
Another major problem is the amount of control these companies have over our food supply. Monsanto, in particular, has been buying up all of the natural seed companies over the past few years. Their intent is to replace all natural seeds with patent-protected, genetically-modified seeds and then create and grow the market for chemicals that control and grow those seeds. Did you ever see a bag of seeds that says “Roundup ready”? Roundup is Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide/pesticide. They are creating products and using patents to protect those products to make more money, not provide a healthy product for you. According to the Organic Center, pesticide use increased by 383 million pounds in the U.S. from 1996 to 2008.
The top ten worst GMO offenders are corn, soy, papaya, aspartame, yellow squash, sugar, canola, cotton, dairy, and zucchini. Going organic or buying non-GMO verified products is the best way to avoid GMOs unless you can grow everything yourself. Obviously, that is not an option for the majority of people.
A non-GMO product is one that does not contain any genetically-modified organisms.
NON-GMO VERIFIED PROJECT
The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect the non-GMO food supply and giving consumers an informed choice. They offer North America’s only third-party verification for products produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance. The strategy is to empower consumers to make change through the marketplace. If people stop buying GMOs, companies will stop using them, and farmers will stop growing them. You can find their label on many products, mainly in grocery stores like Whole Foods.