The Unexpected Truth About GMOs

Posted by Luisa de Luca on


GMO Food

Just hearing “GMO” incites quite a reaction in many people. Popular news would lead us to believe GMO’s are created in secret labs by mad scientists bent on destroying our health by turning otherwise healthy foods into cancer-causing monsters. While the dangers of GMO’s can’t be denied, there is a different and unexpected side to the story telling the truth about GMO’s. GMO’s – short for Genetically Modified Organisms – are just that: living organisms with DNA that has been altered in some way. Scientists create these changes by taking DNA from another plant, bacteria, or even virus and introducing it to a plant. Mankind has been “modifying” crops for a long time, taking the best-of-the-best and cross-breeding to create more robust, tastier crops. And sometimes just for fun: 17th century Dutch farmers selectively bred orange carrots (rather than yellow or purple varieties) in honor of their country’s orange flag. That is the most basic reason GMO’s exist: to improve the hardiness, taste, and nutritive qualities of our food. One example is Golden Rice, formulated in Switzerland and fortified with vitamin A. In the developing world, 500,000 children lose their sight each year due to vitamin A deficiency; of those children, 250,000 die within 12 months of going blind. Golden Rice would help prevent those deaths.


GMO Corn

Other reasons to genetically modify crops include creating crops that can grow in harsh environments developing plants that resist certain viruses or plagues, or to produce more reliable, faster-growing crops. To summarize, on the pro-GMO side of the controversy, there are several valid arguments made:

• Genetically modifying crops could help solve hunger issues by creating plants that can grow faster and produce more, or can grow in climates typically adverse to agriculture.

• Plants can be modified to resist natural viruses.

• Creating strains like Golden Rice that provide more vitamins and minerals can prevent malnutrition.

• The increasing need for food by the planet’s ever-growing population can be met with genetically modified crops that are able to keep up with the demand. However, not everyone is convinced GMO’s are so wonderful. In fact, some people very adamantly believe many of our health problems can be traced back to genetically modified foods.

• One example is Roundup Ready corn, which was modified to resist chemical herbicides used to kill weeds without killing the crop of corn. While the corn survives, people are concerned about the lasting effects the chemicals could have on the human body.

• This creates another problem: since crops can now withstand the use of aggressive pesticides, farmers use more of them, which causes the weeds to become more resistant. On top of that, the chemicals are dangerous for the environment and are linked to health issues such as cancer, reproductive issues, and birth defects.

• Some studies have indicated organ damage, digestive issues, and allergies linked back to GMO’s. 3 years after the introduction of GMO’s to the regular American diet in 1996, the percentage of adults with chronic illnesses jumped 6%, as did food allergies, autism, and digestive problems.


Woman Grocery Shopping

Overall, the jury is still out on how good or bad GMO’s are. Each side of the argument claims the other side has biased and faulty information. It will ultimately be up to you to decide the truth about GMO’s and what is right for you and your family. If you do choose to avoid GMO’s, here’s the simple two-step approach: • Buy organic. USDA certified organic products cannot include GMO ingredients. • Look for the Non-GMO Verified label. You’ve probably seen it before: a butterfly in a blue box indicating the product has been certified to not contain modified ingredients.


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