WHAT: GMOs are plant or meat products that have had their DNA altered in a laboratory by genes from other plants, animals, viruses or bacteria.
EXAMPLE: Genetically modified corn contain a pesticide that cannot be washed off so you can scrub all you want but you will consume it if you eat it. “Round up ready” – Glyphosate, a product by Monsanto known as “Roundup” is a pesticide that when sprayed on certain crops, the crop lives, but weeds around it die. These crops have been genetically modified so they are termed “round-up ready.”
WHY: Why avoid them? This is a HUGE debate. Many scientists argue that there is actually no evidence that GMOs are harmful to your health so there is no need to avoid them at all. On the flip side, there is emerging research that supports the allegations that GMOs have a negative impact on your health including immune resistance, gut issues and hormonal disruptions. One thing both sides may agree on is that people with allergies may be affected due to ingesting food that has been meshed with a gene of an allergen.
When you read articles and research on this topic, be aware of who is funding the research to see if you are getting unbiased information. You have to make your own decision and rather than write an incredibly long blog post, here is an article published by Huffington Post on reasons to avoid them http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maria-rodale/12-reasons-to-avoid-gmos_b_1243723.html and one by the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/genetically-modified-foods-what-is-and-isnt-true/2013/10/15/40e4fd58-3132-11e3-8627-c5d7de0a046b_story.html. But I HIGHLY encourage you to get the facts from both sides and decide what is best for YOU.
If you do want to avoid GMOs here is some helpful info:
The most common GMO crops you need to look out for are:
- Soy– most soy (aprox 93%) in US is genetically processed and is a staple in most processed foods under various names including hydrogenated oils, lecithin, emulsifiers, etc.
- Corn– #1 crop in US. Aproximately 88% is genetically modified. It is hard not to find it in processed food (think corn syrup for example). Plus, it is what is fed to most animals
- Canola– “Canadian oil low acid,” first bred in the early 1970′s as a natural oil, but in 1995 Monsanto created a genetically modified version of canola oil. It is made from rapeseed and is a partially hydrogenated oil.
- Sugar beets-50% of sugar in the US comes from sugar beets.
- Alfalfa – fed to cows. Alfalfa extracts are used in baked goods, beverages, and prepared foods, and the plant serves as a commercial source of chlorophyll and carotene.
- Cotton Seed – used in vegetable oils, margarine, shortenings, etc. used often to fry foods (including potato chips).
- Yellow squash
- Papaya (from Hawaii and China)
The Institute for Responsible Technology provides a free shopping guide list on their website here http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/