GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals created through genetic engineering, which merges and alters DNA from different species, creating different types of foods not found in traditional nature. Consumers are fearful that GMO’s are unhealthy, and can lead to future ailments and health issues.
Proponents and GMO manufacturers such as Monsanto corporation (whose first manufactured product was Saccharin) argue that there are several reasons that many companies have chosen to use GMO’s, such as longer shelf lives, less insecticides, more tolerance to adverse weather conditions, less crop disease, and more sales, which boosts our economy. Adversaries argue much differently. Some say that a rise in auto-immune disease, fertility issues, inflammatory diseases, digestive disorders, and chronic illness are elevated partly because the body’s natural immune system and its DNA make-up is not prepared for adverse DNA in food from genetically altered plants, animals, and seed. In fact, GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food in the US alone. Here are some other startling statistics:
- The USDA reports in 2010 that 80% of corn, 90% of soybeans, 94% of cottonseed, 90% of Canola seed (used in canola oil), and over 50% of sugar beet crops (used to make sucrose and food colorings) are genetically modified.
- Over 60 countries, including Australia, Japan, and all countries in the European Union have banned or restricted GMO seeds and food. The US government has approved GMO sales, based upon studies performed by the actual manufacturers of the GMO companies.
- According to ISAAA, “28 different countries grow genetically modified crops. The top three countries in 2012 were: United States grows 69.5 million hectares of corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, sugar beets, alfalfa, and squash, Brazil grows 36.6 million hectares of soybeans, corn, and cotton, and Argentina grows 23.9 million hectares of soybeans, corn, and cotton”
- “ISAAA also notes that GM crops are commonly used as feed for livestock. GMOinside.org reports the following statistics:
- 90% of the soy grown around the world goes into animal feed.
- 48% of American soybeans are used for poultry feed.
- 26% of American soybeans are used to feed swine.
- 12% of American soybeans are used to feed beef cattle.
- 9% of American soybeans are used to feed dairy cattle.”
- Many dairy products also contain genetic modifications, such as rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone). In fact, 17% of dairy cattle are injected with rBGH. It is best to buy your dairy products from a local farm or a trusted source that serves non-GMO offerings.
When it comes to labeling, the US is behind most of the world, such that 64 countries have GMO labeling laws, yet the US does not currently have a label law (although approximately 20 states are trying). The USDA does regulate which companies can claim that they use non-GMO foods. Polls show that the majority of Americans overwhelmingly want non-GMO foods and supplement labeling, to the tune of 91%, according to a recent poll.According to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, 53% of consumers said they would not buy food that has been genetically modified, should they be informed.
Many national and international companies are committed to serving foods that are non-GMO in nature. Some of these companies include: Chipotle, Amy’s Organics, Applegate Farms, Ciao Bella Gelato, Earthbound Farm, Organic Valley, Pacific Foods, Stoneyfield Organics, Wild Harvest, and most recently General Mills has removed all GMO’s from its original Cheerios cereal (however, not the rest of the Cheerio lines).
There are several Non-GMO advocacy groups and labels, including GM Action Alliance, GMO Free USA, and Citizens for GMO Labeling, should you like to learn more information about this growing shift in food processing and health.