What is a GMO?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines GMOs as “organisms with DNA that have been altered in a non-natural way”. A GMO (a genetically modified organism) is an organism, usually a seed, which has been created by humans in a modern laboratory setting, with the intention of then selling the GMO seeds to farmers. GMO seeds are sold and planted so that they grow crops that are very resistant to bugs and pests. This makes the job of the GMO farmer easier, faster, cheaper, and increases crop production tremendously which makes the farmers more money, but it also means that harmful crops are harvested and then sold to consumers. GMO crops contain pesticides and herbicides which are built right into the crop’s own DNA, helping the crop to defend itself and kill all pests and insects that come into contact with it as it grows. Here lays the problem however- if GMO crops kill bugs and pests when they ingest them, what damage are they capable of doing to humans?
What Foods Contain GMOs?
GMO crop breeding usually involves an insecticide/pesticide/herbicide strand of DNA being spliced with the DNA of either corn, soy, wheat, or cotton seeds, although other crops are also sometimes GMO. By far these are the most commonly genetically modified crops in the US and around the world.
Most of the food we eat today contains at least one type of GMO ingredient. It is estimated that as many as a whopping 80% of the foods in American grocery stores now contain at least one type of GMO ingredient, if not more. GMOs are commonly found in chips, beer, cereal, crackers, corn, soy, milk, bread, candy, condiments, cookies, energy bars, pizza, and any product that contains corn, soy, wheat, or derivatives of these ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup for example. These ingredients are commonly modified and turned into other processed ingredients that they are in nearly all foods in one way or another- as a preservative, sweetener, thickener, etc.
How Can GMOs Negatively Affect Me?
GMOs are associated with many illnesses, although research is still constantly being done to determine their long term safety. Because they have only existed for less than 20 years, there is no way to determine the serious effects they will have on people’s health down the road, after years of consuming these products. However primarily research shows us that they are harmful in a number of ways, some more immediately noticeable like digestive distress and allergies, and some that may take longer to surface like tumor growth and hormonal disruption.
Recently a French study fed rats a lifetime diet of GMO corn. It proved the rats had a 50-70% chance of acquiring grotesque tumors because of the GMO diet. Up to 70% of the rats suffered premature death. Other similar studies showed that ingesting trace amounts of the pesticides used in GMOs increased the chance of rats growing tumors by 200% to 300%. After being fed the GMO pesticides, the rats suffered severe organ damage including liver damage and kidney damage.
Other various studies have linked GMO foods with increased risk for DNA damage, low testosterone, endocrine disruption, liver cancer, meningitis, infertility, skin cancer, kidney damage, severe allergies, asthma, ADHD, arthritis, and more. So until further evidence shows that these GMO crops are safe to consume, it is best to avoid them.
How Can I Avoid GMOs?
GMOs are banned in 27 countries and labeled in another 61 countries, but the US is not one of them. With the exceptions of the U.S. and Canada, almost every civilized country has banned GMO products. In the U.S today, GMOs are not banned, nor are they labeled. In order to determine if your food has GMO crops in it or not, you will want to look for labels indicating “Non GMO”. Organic foods also cannot have GMO crops in them.
You especially want to look for organic, non GMO labels on any foods containing the most commonly modified ingredients: corn, soy, wheat, and cotton. It is estimated that by avoiding these major offenders you can reduce the amount of GMOs in your diet by up to 90%.