GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are novel organisms, created in the laboratory by modifying the genes of the base plant or animal to change its characteristics. An example of this would be to make an apple more resistant to insect attacks.
Scientists, Consumer, and Environmental groups have all cited various health and environmental risks with foods containing GMOs.
Because of these risks, many people prefer to eat non-GMO foods whenever possible.
In the UK we do not allow GM modified crops to be grown however it is legal for the Farm animals we eat to be fed GM crops so this creates a back door for GM to enter the food chain and remember around 80% of Soy is GM and Soy causes more damage to the rain forest than any other crop.
What Is Genetic Modification
To modify the DNA of a plant or animal, scientists remove one or more genes from the DNA of another organism, such as a bacterium, virus, animal, or plant, and “recombine” them into the DNA of the organism they want to alter.
The altered organism should now inherit the traits associated with the new genes.
A good example of a GMO is corn where genetic engineers have combined genes from a bacterium known as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
Bt genes express a protein that kills insects, so GMO corn should now produce its own pesticide.
Genetic modification/engineering is a potentially dangerous technology
A major problem with genetic engineering is that the process of inserting genes is random. It can disrupt the functioning of other genes and create new proteins that have never been in the food chain and may create toxins and allergens in foods.
Genetic modification is a radical technology and is not fully understood
GM Supporters say that the technology is just an extension of traditional plant breeding. But plant breeders work with organisms of the same or related species to create new varieties.
Genetic engineers break down nature’s genetic barriers by allowing transfers of genes between different bacteria, viruses, and even animals with unforeseeable consequences.
Genetic modification is based on an obsolete scientific theory
Genetic modification is based on a theory called the Central Dogma, which asserts that one gene will express just one protein. However, scientists working with the United States National Human Genome Research Institute discovered that this wasn’t true, that genes operate in a complex network in ways that are not yet fully understood. This fact undermines the entire basis for genetic engineering.
Which Plants are currently approved to be grown in the US?
- Soybeans – About 80% of Soybeans are GMO
- Sugar beets
- Yellow “crook neck” squash
- “Arctic” apple
- “Innate” potato
How can I avoid genetically modified foods?
Here are a few guidelines to help you to make the right choice:
- Avoid processed foods containing ingredients from corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, and cotton.
- Over 70% of processed foods found in stores and restaurants contain GE corn, soybeans, canola, and cotton. 50% of the sugar used in processed food from GM sugar beet.
- Look for Non-GMO Project verified products – These food products have gone through a rigorous verification program to minimize the risk of GMO contamination. For more information visit www.nongmoproject.org.
- Eat organic – GM substances are prohibited in organic production.
- Grow your own.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours, but there are so many viable and affordable alternatives to GMO that you may want to follow the age-old advice “If in doubt, leave it out”.