4 Things to Know About GMOs

Lately, I have been hearing and reading a lot about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Maybe you have too? Most recently I read a great article in Experience Life Magazine called “Fankenfood”.  Before reading the article I thought I was fairly informed about GMOs and understood the threats that they pose to the environment, organic farming communities and healthy sustainable food sources but I had not considered the extent of GMO’s effects on our health.

4 Things to Know About GMO’s

What Are GMOs?

The Non-GMO Project (a non-profit organization aimed at creating awareness around GMO’s) defines GMOs as  “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.”  In modern farming the process is used to create so-called super plants that in theory are able to withstand droughts, attacks from bugs or to create non-natural flavors deemed to be more desirable to in the market place. The bottom line is that GMO’s are not natural and the evidence is growing to connect GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.

What Foods Contain GMOs?

Over the past two decades GMOs have been making their way into many of the foods we eat. Last year Monsanto, GMOs biggest player, reported $13.5 billion in sales of GMO products (Experience Life Magazine, June 3013). Here are some common sources of GMO foods (supplied by the Non-GMO project). This list is by no means complete but it shows the top offenders. Check out the Non-GMO’s projects page for more on GMO crops, ingredients and a surprising list of crops that were once GMO but are now grown with out manipulation because of problems with the gene tweaking.

  • Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crops)
  • Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crops in 2011)
  • Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crops in 2011)
  • Papaya (most of Hawaiian crops; approximately 988 acres)
  • Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crops in 2011)
  • Sugar beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crops in 2010)
  • Zucchini and yellow summer squash (approx. 25,000 acres)

Do GMOs Affect Your Health?

So what does this mean for you and your health? Let me start by saying it is not completely clear what effects GMO’s have on our health, largely because there is little research or data available. Food companies who make GMOs are not required to share their scientific research and because there are no laws requiring GMO foods to be labeled it is not even clear which foods contain GMOs and which ones do not. However as the body of evidence grows studies have found links between GMOs and leaky gut syndrome, increased food allergies (especially in kids), weakened immune systems and low-fertility. British researchers noted a 50% increase in soy allergies after GMO soy was introduced into their food system. Similarly, in the US the increases in cases of IBS, Crohn’s disease, leaky gut and allergies have a strong association with the increase of GMO’s Americans are consuming. 

It’s also interesting to note that many nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs.

If you have a moment, check out Experience Life Magazine’s Frankenfood articles section on Leaky Gut Syndrome and GMOs. It’s eye-opening.  One super interesting point is that 100’s of people that were experiencing ill-health effects from GMOs, report their health improved vastly when they switched to a non-GMO diet.

What Can You Do?  

  • Choose organic products. All organic foods sold in the U.S. must be certified to the USDA National Organic Standards, which prohibit the use of GMOs.
  • Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal on products.
  • Know your grocer. Whole Foods is voluntarily labeling GMO foods and their 365 Everyday Value® products are derived from plants that are sourced to avoid GMOs, and hundreds of those products are verified by the Non-GMO Project.
  • Get involved and vote to have GMO’s labeled.

So, the reason why we are hearing so much about GMOs is because health conscious folks like you want to know what they are eating. I hope you are a little better informed about GMOs. I know that the issue with GMOs is much bigger than I previously thought and I am definitely for having them labeled. As always I’d love to hear your thoughts on GMOs.

Wishing You GMO-free Vibrant Living.