Unless you live under a shell by the sea- you’ve heard of GMOs. But do you know what they are? And why people are making a fuss? Do you know why you pick the cereal that says “non-GMO” over the other cereals?
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism- that are plants and animals that have been genetically manipulated somehow with either bacteria, viruses, or other plants or animals. The neat part is these genetic manipulations would never happen in nature or from traditional crossbreeding. Comforting right?
GMOs started off as somewhat harmless. Because they didn’t seem to affect “us” because they were designed somewhat with the intention of helping underdeveloped countries have a product that could be sold in the global market place. And it was this wonderful favor that science did for the world. “How great” we foolishly thought as these genetic freak foods were being grown in other countries.
But as time goes on we began to realize that these GMOs weren’t just being produced in some remote area of some underdeveloped country- they were being produced here. These GMOs are in our food supply. Why? At first it was something that was just accepted. Because how bad can it be?
Biotech companies were making big promises of these foods- that they would offer an increase in product yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition and overall offer benefits to the consumer. Sounds legit right?
Meanwhile there were people thinking themselves…. this sounds too good to be true.
Remember that old adage- if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Now we are at a point when GMOs are a hot button issue. America is unfortunately one of the few developed countries that allow GMOs to be a part of their food supply. In fact most developed and now many undeveloped countries do not consider GMOS to be safe. Japan and Australia, and all countries of the European Union, and many more either have significant restrictions or bans on GMOs being sold/traded in their countries.
There is now a substantial body of evidence showing that GMOs do not live up to the aforementioned promises made on their behalf by biotech companies. And there is a legitimate body of very conflicting evidence in terms of some evidence indicating GMOs are NOT safe, and some research shows inconclusive evidence.
There is also plenty of evidence indicating that GMOs are safe. Unfortunately many of these studies were funded/conducted/influenced by the companies who produce/distribute GMOs, and the United States approved of GMOs based on these studies. Neat huh? Feel like a guinea pig yet??
Many Americans are outraged, and upset by this. America is supposed to be a global superpower- yet the citizens are allowed to be guinea pigs. Last year California had a proposition on their ballots, prop 37- that essentially would make it mandatory for GMOs to be labels. Prop 37 lost.
With that being said it is not mandatory for GMO products to be labeled. But fortunately there are enough people our there to get upset by this. So now even though there isn’t labeling for GMO containing products- there is voluntary labeling for products who are GMO free. Many companies are not allowing it period, and do not use any type of product from a GMO source. And many companies, (per press releases I have seen) plan to completely get away from using any GMO products in the coming years.
According to the Non-GMO project- in the American food supply about 80% of conventional processed food contains GMOs.
I hate to sound like a granola eating-conspiracy loving wack-a-doo but it is very hard to find UNBIASED and ACCURATE information on this subject matter, and I hope this blog (with the help of some research from the “The Non-GMO Project” help you out.
I have two closing remarks
1- I am personally and professionally bothered that the organization who touts itself on being the leader of Nutrition Experts (The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics) – does not take a firm stance on this matter. In fact their stance is quite ambiguous. But what do you expect from people who allow Coca Cola, and Pepsi to be partners and sponsors for their annual nutrition conference….
2-I encourage you to think long and hard on this. Here are my personal thoughts- these make me feel like a guinea pig. I am bothered because there is NO long term evidence showing the kind of possible damage (or lack thereof) that these GMOs may or may not cause. I personally would like to avoid increasing my risks to by harmed in anyway by GMOs- by just avoiding them to the best of my ability. I think of these foods in a way I think of many medications. How many meds have been pulled off the market because at first they were deemed safe but after 10-15-20 years of being studied and being on the market, it would be found they are dangerous. I don’t think there is sufficient evidence either way promoting safety or harm on this matter. I think one study cancels out another. I don’t think (personal hypothesis) we will see any ill effects until years down the road- when it may be affecting our children or grandchildren.
In terms of looking at evidence be your own advocate. Don’t just let Peter Jennings or Fox News or NPR – or even me spoon feed you information. Look at the studies. And most importantly look at the disclosures from the studies. When there is a conflict of interest of any type on scientific research there is a disclosure indicating what that conflict could be.
I would prefer not to be scientific casualty.
Should you be interested in learning more, or verifying if your favorite products are GMO or not strongly urge you to visit the Non-GMO Project’s third party verification page.
I’m stepping down from my soapbox now, and going to have a beer or 5….hopefully not made with GMO grains.