If someone told you that a type of gas was cheaper but that its ingredients are unknown, and there are no studies on what it might do to your car long term- would you put that gas in your car?
This scenario is similar to eating GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) foods. If you were unsure of the short-term or long-term effects of food ingredients on your health, would you eat it anyway? Do you know what is in the foods you eat? It is a fair and essential question for our health.
This blog will discuss GMOs and why we should fully understand what we are eating. I choose to avoid commercially produced foods in my body. We need to know how our food is produced and what is in it.
What are GMOs?
There are many controversial ingredients in so many of our products, and GMOs are one. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are living organisms whose genetic material is produced in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This process creates combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Most GMOs have been engineered to withstand the direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. However, new technologies are being used to artificially develop other traits in plants, such as a resistance to browning in apples and to create new organisms using synthetic biology. Despite biotech industry promises, there is no evidence that any of the GMOs currently offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefits.
GMO High-Risk Crops:
Much of commercially available alfalfa has been genetically modified to contain a gene that makes it resistant to the herbicide Roundup. Alfalfa is a major crop used as livestock feed. Unless you are only buying Certified Organic or Non-GMO Verified animal products, this herbicide can make its way into the meat or dairy you consume.
About 90% of US canola crops are genetically modified. Canola oil is in many processed foods like chips, crackers, cereal, snack bars, candy, bread, etc.
Most non-organic corn grown in the United States is genetically modified: from the sweet corn you eat to the field corn fed to livestock. Modified corn is resistant to the herbicide glyphosate. Many foods and additives contain corn.
Genetically modified cotton produces an insecticide to kill specific pests. Cottonseed oil can be found in packaged foods like potato chips and margarine. Cotton can also make its way into animal feed and food fillers such as cellulose.
About 90% of the papayas grown in Hawaii are genetically modified to be virus-resistant against the ringspot virus. For non-GMO papaya, always look for organic certification.
"Innate" potatoes were approved by the USDA in 2014 and developed by J. R. Simplot Company. There are currently five potato varieties in this group of potatoes, including Ranger Russet, Russet Burbank, and Atlantic. They are widely commercially available in the United States.
If you choose soy that is not certified organic, you can be reasonably sure that it is genetically modified. Soy is the most common genetically modified crop in this country and can be found in many forms: whole soybeans, oil, and soy lecithin, to name a few. Check out this soy allergy fact sheet for more hidden names for soy products.
About 95% of sugar beets grown in the United States are glyphosate-resistant, or "Roundup Ready," which is engineered to resist the herbicide Roundup. Sugar beets are used to produce sugar: if a product is not labeled as containing "cane sugar," you can bet the sugar comes from commercial sugar beets.
ZUCCHINI AND YELLOW SUMMER SQUASH
Genetically modified and commercially-available zucchini and yellow squash contain protein genes that protect the crops against viruses. Unless you buy certified organic (or from a local farmer that you trust), you will not know whether the squash you buy is genetically modified or not.
Source: Non-GMO Project High-Risk Crops
How Can You Avoid GMOs?
Looking for the USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified labels is the easiest way to avoid buying GMOs. I always like to point out that not all small farmers or companies can afford these labels, so get to know your farmer. Plus, not all foods have a GMO alternative yet.
I want to introduce you to an organization that helps you understand GMOs so you can make an informed decision. The Non-GMO Project is "a mission-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to building and protecting a non-GMO food supply. We do this through consumer education and outreach programs, marketing support provided to Non-GMO Project Verified brands, and retailers' training resources and merchandising materials."
If you need guidance in the kitchen, please don't hesitate to reach out.
I would love to talk with you and find out how I can support you.
Brandy Lane Hickman, NBHWC
2B Well Integrative Health Collaborative, Owner Inspired Nutrition, National Board Certified Health Coach, Kitchen Therapy
Board President, Missouri Nutrition Alliance Non-Profit