Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Breakdown on GMOs

This week's blogpost brings awareness to another acronym that doesn't get much press but is most likely a part of all Americans' life.  GMO.  GMO stands for genetically modified organism.  There's also GEO, or genetically engineered organism, which is essentially the same thing.  The reason that I wanted to talk about GMOs today is because we consume a lot of them in our diet without even knowing it.

Many food products and additives today are made from plants that are GMOs.  Now, this doesn't sound so harmful in and of itself, until you to start to look into what a GMO plant is.  If you look into the side that supports GMOs, they will say that they are able to produce bigger and better yields of the crop.  This is true about the bigger crop, but not necessarily the better part. 

You see, when you genetically modify or engineer a plant you are changing the basic properties of that plant at the genetic level.  In most cases today, especially corn and soy, these GMO plants are chemically changed to have anti-microbial / pesticidal qualities bred into them.  They are typically known as "Round-Up Ready" versions.  That means that if you are trying to avoid harmful chemicals such as pesticides, you won't be able to get away from them in GMOs, they are genetically bred into the plant.

Now, there are many different problems with this, the main one being that these chemicals are literally part of the plant now.  That means that most corn, and other products, that we eat today are completely different from what our forefathers ate even 50 years ago. 

Also, the companies that own these GMO seeds have a patent on them.  And if, per chance, some of the GMO seed were to end up in an organic farmer's crop, the organic farmer probably won't know it until the GMO company tests their crops then can sue the farmer for "illegally" using the GMO seeds without paying for them.  And these GMO companies are huge with lots of connections, so they typically win out.  If this sounds like a conspiracy theory, there's a lot of evidence that shows these facts.  Movies like Food, Inc. and The Future of Food have addressed these issues and there are a plethora of court cases dealing with this fact.

There are also health implications when you eat GMO foods.  Anytime your body eats something that is not a food (pesticides, food coloring, preservatives, fake sugars, etc.) your detoxification systems (liver and kidneys) need to get rid of it.  And in most cases, they can't get rid of all of that junk, so it builds up in your body.  There have been studies that have linked these chemicals to serious disease processes like Diabetes, Infertility, and Alzheimer's to name a few.  In fact, some countries, mostly in Europe, have banned these GMOs simply because there have been too many detrimental health implications.

So if you really want to make an effort to not eat as many GMO products as possible, read the label before you buy it.  Most products will say that they are GMO or GEO free.  Also, organic products should be GMO free.  Finally, just a little tip, my wife found out that all of Trader Joe's named products are GMO free.

Here's another link to the Future of Food video on Hulu that I posted earlier.  I'm posting again just because I think everyone should watch this.  This is a feature length documentary so plan to set some time aside to watch the whole thing.

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