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What Are Genetically Modified Foods?

What Are Genetically Modified Foods?

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Genetically modified foods (GM foods) are those that have been genetically altered in order to benefit producers and consumers; these foods are often created to resist disease, grow quicker, add nutritional value, or decrease allergy levels. But are they good for you, and the environment?

Although GM foods seem beneficial to consumers, they are surrounded by controversy. The European Union, Australia, Japan, and a few dozen other countries have either banned or placed stringent restrictions on GM foods. In the United States, the largest producer of GM foods in the world, genetically modified foods are not labeled and are largely unregulated by the federal government. Without adequate testing, Americans are left in the dark, unaware of any harm that genetically modified foods may cause. For now, citizens can educate themselves about genetically modified foods and decide for themselves where they stand on these "frankenfoods."

Some of the most important crops in American agriculture are genetically modified; corn, soybeans, cotton, and rice are prime examples of this. But it’s not just the raw consumption of these products that is troublesome — it’s the multiple foods produced from these crops. The Grocery Manufacturers of America estimates that up to 75 percent of processed foods in the U.S. contain at least one GM ingredient. High-fructose corn syrup — a sweetener usually used in processed foods — is created by converting some of the glucose in corn into fructose, thus creating a sugar-like sweetness. Cookies, yogurt, cereal, candy, and sodas are just a few of the products created using HFCS corn in addition to the array of foods that contain soy or rice derivatives.

The environmental impacts of GM foods are many, affecting crop diversity and harming insects, and the soil these crops are grown in. GM crops are often altered to create their own pesticides, which don’t just kill the target insect, but other non-target organisms that are beneficial to crops and critical to our food supply, including honeybees. GM foods also have the capability of contaminating non-GM strains, leading to a reduction in crop diversity, as well.

The consequences of GM food consumption on human beings have yet to be established. A recent study by a group of French scientists yielded discouraging results. For two years, rats were fed Roundup-resistant GM corn while scientists from Caen University studied its effects on the rodents. Compared to the regular (control) group, the GM-fed rats died sooner and developed cancerous tumors. Dr. Séralini, the scientist leading the study, stated that these effects were caused by the "endocrine-disrupting effects of Roundup, and overexpression of the transgene in the GMO." Opponents of GM foods argue that results like these are an example of the dangers of genetically modified foods.

Currently, only a few dozen GM foods have been created, but it’s possible that we’ll see a future where hundreds of other foods are genetically engineered. Will the role of GM foods continue to expand in the future? If you’re cautious and want to stay away from GM foods, you may want to stick with locally grown, organic foods so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body.

— Russell Smith,

More From

• Top Reasons to Go Organic

• Is It Crowded in Here? How Over-Population Effects the Environment

• Can Consumerism Save the Planet?

Apple-Berry Topped Sourdough French Toast

Fresh organic foods are a great way to start your day. GMO foods compared to organic foods has a lot of conversation. It is true the vitamins maybe the same, but the phytonutrients are not. P hytonutrients are produced in the vegetable or fruit to combat insects and infections, the more phytonutrients the better.

Plant foods contain thousands of natural chemicals. As we noted they are called phytonutrients or phytochemicals.”Phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant. These chemicals help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats.

But genetically modified plants have been compromised. How? With glyphosate engineered into the seed, the plant has no reason to fight of infections, and insects. In turn, the plant becomes lazy so to speak, and the phytonutrient production in the plant is much less, meaning less nutrients.

There are more than 25,000 phytonutrients found in plant foods. When you eat or drink phytonutrients, they help prevent disease and keep your body working properly.

Some of the important ones include:

These nutrients act as antioxidants in your body, meaning they tackle harmful free radicals that damage tissues throughout your body. GMO foods compare to non gmo have much less antioxidant abilities.

It only makes since to eat all natural non gmo foods, that have been seeded, grown and harvested organically. To learn more about glyphosate link here to read, What Do You Believe About Glyphosate.

Now for our featured recipe: Apple-Berry Topped Sourdough French Toast.

2 apples, color is your choice

2 large or 4 small slices Sourdough bread

large shredded dried coconut pieces

Ingredients above make for 2 servings

Core one apple, leaving skin on and add slices to a Nutri-Bullet, food processor, or blender. Add the coconut water and processes.

Next, over a medium sauce pot strain the pureed apple. Once the juice has drained, save the puree in a glass bowl. Add some lemon juice, and coconut sugar, and you have fresh homemade applesauce. Save in the refrigerator and eat within 3 days.

With the other apple, leaving skin, core, remove seeds, and slice thick pieces into thin slices.

Add apple slices to the sauce pot. Bring apple slices to a soft boil. Next, add tapioca-root to a little water, and stir into sauce pot. Continue stirring until juice thinks some. Do not over boil the tapioca, as it can loss its thickening ability.

Next add coconut sugar and stir in until well combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

Break eggs into a dish and add coconut milk, and mix together.

Heat a large ceramic coated skillet over medium heat. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of grass fed butter, and melt. Coat both sides of sourdough slices and add to pan. Cook both sides until golden brown, but not burnt.

On individual plates, add 2 slices of cooked bread, and spoon on cooked apples with syrup. Top with 1/4 cup blueberries, pecan pieces, and shredded coconut. Enjoy the start of your day with this all organic breakfast.

GMF: Harmful or Helpful?

Genetically modified foods are designed to provide a number of benefits to producers and consumers. These include reduced production costs, making foods cheaper improved availability as fruits maintain freshness in seasons when they would not be normally available fewer chemicals in plants because of their improved pest resistance and thus also less stress on the environment due to lower need for toxic pesticides reduced allergens in certain foods like soy, peanuts or wheat that often cause food allergies and pharmaceutical use of plants for the production of edible vaccines and medications.

However, several concerns have been raised regarding genetically modified foods, including:

Genetically Modified Foods

Controversies concerning the safety and environmental effects of genetically modified food crops created extraordinary political conflict and market disruptions in the United States, Europe, and developing countries during the 1990s and early 2000s. Early genetic modification of crops, introduced commercially in the mid-1990s, created corn, soy, and other grains, fruits, and vegetables that were resistant to pests or pesticides or enhanced to produce extra vitamins, proteins, or other nutrients. Genetic modification differed from conventional crossbreeding by altering plants at the molecular level, sometimes by combining the DNA of different species. In the pipeline were bioengineered plants that promised drought resistance orimmunity to or treatments for specific diseases. However, new benefits were accompanied by questions concerning the possible introduction of allergens when DNA from different species was combined the long-term environmental effects of pest-resistant crops on beneficial insects, birds, and animals and the possible creation of “superweeds” or other pesticide-resistant plants or insects from inadvertent crossbreeding between conventional and bioengineered plants.

The EU and the United States took different approaches to the introduction of genetically modified food crops in the mid-1990s. The EUregulated geneticallymodified crops as a novel health and environmental issue, requiring thorough review and risk assessment for each field trial and product introduction. The United States regulated genetically modified crops as a variation on familiar health and safety concerns, allowing many field trials and introductions to take place without government permits.

After an informal six-year ban on imports of genetically modified crops, Europe adopted a mandatory labeling regime in 2004. After welcoming genetically modified crops, theUnited States adopted guidelines for voluntary labeling. As of 2005, however, labeling had not improved the efficiency of international markets or public safety, and both its effectiveness and itssustainability were in doubt.

The European public responded to the sudden introduction of genetically modified foods by the American Monsanto Corporation in 1996 and 1997 with demonstrations and boycotts. Inflammatory headlines warned of the dangers of “frankenfoods” Green Party representatives cautioned about environmental risks respected consumer organizations called for product labeling or withdrawal and Prince Charles, Paul McCartney, and other well-known figures echoed public skepticism about the safety of such foods. Already frightened by risks associated with mad cow disease (risks that initially were downplayed by public officials), an incident of dioxin-contaminated Belgian food, and the spread of hoof-and-mouth disease (none of which had anything to do with genetic modification), European consumers were distrustful of government and commercial assurances of food safety.

In contrast, the American public barely noticed the introduction of genetically modified foods. Antiregulatory sentiment ran high in the United States in the mid-1990s, following gains by conservatives in the midterm elections of 1994. Experts in government and the private sector debated safeguards and determined that no new regulatory system was needed for genetically modified foods. Risks could be considered product by product—just like risks associated with other advancing food technologies. Interestingly, the U.S. food industry favored a mandatory safety assessment for genetically modified foods, although the industry opposed mandatory labeling.

In 1998, European Union member states instituted an informal ban on the import of bulk shipments of products that might contain genetically modified organisms, stopped approving genetically modified foods, and required labels on packaged foods already on the market that contained genetically modified corn or soy. In the United States, farmers rapidly increased production of genetically modified crops so that nearly 40 percent of corn acreage and more than 70 percent of soybean acreage was planted with crops engineered to increase resistance to pests or herbicides. Planting such genetically modified seeds had benefits for farmers. It could reduce significantly costs associated with plowing and purchase of pesticides.

In the late 1990s, however, European protests spread to the United States and other countries. In 1999, protests by a variety of activist organizations led national farm associations in the United States to warn their members about the economic risks of planting genetically modified crops. Companies such as Frito-Lay and Nestle banned such crops from their products in the United States as well as in Europe. Gerber and H. J. Heinz removed genetically modified ingredients from baby food. Domestic incidents also triggered alarm. When Starlink, a variety of genetically modified corn approved only for animal feed in the United States, was found in taco shells in fast-food restaurants in 2002, it raised the specter of possible allergens. After ten years of commercialization,virtually all the production of genetically modified crops remained concentrated in only four countries—the United States, Canada, Argentina, and Brazil.

International disagreement took the highest toll in Africa. Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi rejected U.S. food aid in 2002 because shipments contained genetically modified corn, even though those countries were threatened with famine conditions and genetically modified corn had been distributed without controversy in Zambia for six years. African nations could not risk losing the European market fortheir crops if the seed found its way into farmers’ fields. The United States remained the world’s largest exporter of agricultural products. But Europe, one of the world’s two largest importers (along with Japan), had more influence over market rules.

Scientific uncertainty continued to leave room for polarized debate. In the United States, the National Research Council remained supportive of the benefits of genetic engineering of crops but also emphasized the importance of assessing each product individually for potential risks from allergens, contamination of other plants, or damageto insects or animals. The Research Directorate General of the EU, as well as French and British authorities, acknowledged that no human health or environmental problems had yet been observed but also cautioned about long-term risks. All agreed that there was agreat deal that was not yet known about the effects of genetic modification of foods.

Labeling of genetically modified foods was not an unreasonable approach to promoting more efficient markets, improving consumer choice, and creating incentives for minimizing the risks of genetic modification—goals that Europe, the United States, and developing countries shared. In the past, governments had often employed food labeling to promote public health and inform consumer choice when individual preferences differed. Europe and the United States already specified the labeling of ingredients, allergens, and nutrients in packaged foods.

In 2004, the EU did replace its informal moratorium with an exacting system of labeling and tracking genetically modified foods and animal feed. Some allowance was made for accidental contamination on the grounds that some mixing of crops wasinevitable. Foods that contained less than 0.9 percent of genetically modified substances did not have to be labeled. In order to implement the labeling regime, the EU required that the characteristics, shipping, and sale of genetically modified food ingredients be tracked from planting to incorporation in products. Tracking was essential in order to verify labeling and facilitate recalls. Genetically modified seeds also had to be labeled and tracked. In effect, genetically modified crops had to be segregated at each step of production and distribution—from farm to fork. The European Commission approved one variety of Bt corn for human consumption (but not planting) in May 2004, the first biotech product to gain approval since 1998. The commission also approved a variety of genetically modified maize in 2006.

After the Starlink contamination incident in 2002, the United States also proposed voluntary guidelines for companies to use if they wanted to inform consumers that their products did or did not contain genetically modified ingredients. The FDA recommended that labels feature statements that products were (or were not) genetically engineered or were made (or not made) using biotechnology, rather than statements that products were “GMO free,” since some degree of contamination seemed unavoidable. In an unrelated regulatory change, the United States also introduced rules to standardize labeling of “organic” foods, a growing portion of the U.S. food market. Those rules included a requirement that foods labeled organic could not contain genetically modified ingredients.

As of 2006, however, the labeling of genetically modified foods appeared unlikely to prove sustainable or effective as a public health measure or as a means of increasing market efficiency by informing consumer choice, for two reasons. First, frequent incidents of contamination between genetically modified and conventional crops, as well as acknowledgement that some contamination was inevitable, raised doubts about whether accurate labeling was technically feasible. Second, the underlying complexity and uncertainty of safety and environmental issues concerning genetic modification made it difficult to communicate accurately with consumers by means of labels. “GMOs fall into the class of risk situations characterized by both low certainty and low consensus,” David Winickoff and his coauthors suggested in an analysis of these food wars. In such situations, labels that warn but do not inform tend to inflame public fears rather than improve public knowledge.

Labeling of genetically modified foods by the EuropeanUnion also had extreme unintended consequences. In effect, it continued to preclude farmers in developing countries from planting genetically modified crops. Seemingly simple labeling required farmers, distributors, and food companies to segregate genetically modified crops at every step. Farmers, grain elevators, railroad cars, processing facilities, and food manufacturing plants needed separate facilities and processes for conventional and genetically modified fruits, vegetables, and grains. In the United States, officials estimated that crop segregation and tracking requirements might increase food production costs by 10 to 30 percent.

In the absence of any more appropriate international forum, the continuing battle over the labeling of genetically modified foods took the formof a trade dispute, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) acting as arbiter. In February 2006 the WTO ruled that the EU’s informal ban against imports of genetically modified foods represented an unlawful restraint of trade (although the EU had by then technically lifted the ban). EU officials countered that the WTO ruling would not influence their policies.

This case study is drawn from Full Disclosure , Fung, Graham and Weil, 2007.

Recent articles have been circulating throughout mom-groups that I’m a part of on social media regarding glyphosate being present in cereals. While I love any information shining light on the topic of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), this actually has me quite concerned. Picking up a box of cereal and simply reading the ingredients should be enough to know that it’s genetically modified. But the way that parents are freaking out about this online has me wondering…are they reading product ingredients and actually understanding what’s in them? Apparently not.

That’s why I want to briefly fill you in on what foods/ingredients are genetically modified so that you will be empowered the next time you pick up a package and read the ingredient list (which I always encourage you to do, whether it be food for yourself or your child). Notice how these are not just the crops that we’re being fed, but also the feed that animals are being fed, that we’re then consuming. We are what we eat!

GMO’s in cereal, or any food for that matter, is not OK.

10 genetically modified crops in our food system today:

SOYBEAN (also used for livestock and poultry feed or industrial uses)

CORN (also used for livestock and poultry feed)

CANOLA (also used for animal feed)

SUGAR BEETS (also used for animal feed)

ALFALFA (used for animal feed)

COTTON (used for fiber, animal feed)

But knowing those top 10 crops isn’t enough. Many of these crops are used as processed ingredients in food products that you will find in packaged foods but many times under another name. For example, see below other recognizable ingredients containing these genetically modified crops.

Remember these ingredients, as they signify genetically modified:

SOYBEAN (also known as soybean oil, vegetable oil, high oleic acid, soy lecithin)

CORN (also known as high-fructose corn syrup, corn oil, corn starch)

SUGAR BEETS (also known as sugar)

COTTON (also known as cottonseed oil)

Knowing that information, picking up a box of cereal or any packaged food for that matter should now be clear that it’s a genetically modified product. Where things get tricky is how food companies are masters at marketing, and more focused on highlighting words and phrases on their packages that will make you think their product is healthy when it indeed may not be. And they can get away with this because there are no laws when it comes to labeling, at least not yet.

I’m going to geek out for a second.

GMOs are estimated to be in the majority of our food, somewhere between 75% and 80%. In 2016, former President Obama signed bill S. 764 that puts into place a federal standard for foods that have been made with genetically modified organisms. Two weeks prior to that signing Congress passed legislation to necessitate labeling on all food packages that indicates whether or not they contain GMO ingredients. Labeling packages would provide consumers to have access to information about their food – it’s something that would be helpful and clear when choosing food products. But the label requirements have still yet to take full effect, and many American companies say that it’s too expensive to add GMO labeling to their packaging (meanwhile over 64 countries have required and carried out labeling). The responsibility falls on the Department of Agriculture, who need to write up the rules. There are already rumors that the proposed rule will instruct foodmakers to use the term “bioengineered” (term used by Congress) to label such food instead of “genetically modified,” which obviously is a more recognizable phrase. Other rumors are that the USDA may exempt products containing ingredients from mixed sources that were less than 5% genetically modified by weight. So technically, they’d still be modified.

CHILL…there are things you can do to avoid GMOs.

I realize that this conversation is overwhelming, and can seem hopeless. But there are things you can do to do your best to avoid GMOs in your food.

  1. Look for the Non-GMO Project verification on the packages that you purchase. Try entering your favorite products into their verification database to see if they’re certified. That easily recognizable stamp with the monarch butterfly can be found on more and more packaged foods each time you go to the store (which is an amazing thing!).
  2. Prepare your own food at home. Purchase organic whenever you can, especially animal products. We are more likely to be exposed to GMOs when eating out through poor quality vegetable oils, non-organic product and meat/dairy that has been conventionally raised on GM feed. There are plenty of crops you do not have to purchase organic, check this Dirty Dozen / Clean Fifteen list (that’s available for print or as an app on your phone) for clarification.
  3. Read labels and don’t be so quick to trust them! Remember the ingredients and the many names that they fall under and do your best to avoid foods that contain them by voting with your dollar. Companies are catching on and are creating products with fewer ingredients that are more wholesome. Yay! But others are using buzzwords like “non-GMO” on their packages when they do indeed contain GM ingredients and are not verified safe by the Non-GMO Project.

Do the best that you can, where you can when it comes to avoiding GMOs. It’s all we can do!

Safety tests on commercial GM crops

The GM tomatoes were produced by inserting kanr genes into a tomato by an 𠆊ntisense’ GM method (IRDC 1998). The results show that there were no significant alterations in total protein, vitamins and mineral contents and in toxic glycoalkaloids (Redenbaugh et al. 1992). Therefore, the GM and parent tomatoes were deemed to be “substantially equivalent”. In acute toxicity studies with male/female rats, which were tube-fed with homogenized GM tomatoes, toxic effects were reported to be absent. A study with a GM tomato expressing B. thuringiensis toxin CRYIA (b) was underlined by the immunocytochemical demonstration of in vitro binding of Bt toxin to the caecum/colon from humans and rhesus monkeys (Noteborn et al. 1995).

GM maize

Two lines of Chardon LL herbicide-resistant GM maize expressing the gene of phosphinothricin acetyltransferase before and after ensiling showed significant differences in fat and carbohydrate contents compared with non-GM maize and were therefore substantially different come. Toxicity tests were only performed with the maize even though with this the unpredictable effects of the gene transfer or the vector or gene insertion could not be demonstrated or excluded. The design of these experiments was also flawed because of poor digestibility and reduction in feed conversion efficiency of GM corn. One broiler chicken feeding study with rations containing transgenic Event 176 derived Bt corn (Novartis) has been published (Brake and Vlachos 1998). However, the results of this trial are more relevant to commercial than academic scientific studies.

GM soybeans

To make soybeans herbicide resistant, the gene of 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase from Agrobacterium was used. Safety tests claim the GM variety to be “substantially equivalent” to conventional soybeans (Padgette et al. 1996). The same was claimed for GTS (glyphosate-resistant soybeans) sprayed with this herbicide (Taylor et al. 1999). However, several significant differences between the GM and control lines were recorded (Padgette et al. 1996) and the study showed statistically significant changes in the contents of genistein (isoflavone) with significant importance for health (Lappe et al. 1999) and increased content in trypsin inhibitor.

Studies have been conducted on the feeding value (Hammond et al. 1996) and possible toxicity (Harrison et al. 1996) for rats, broiler chickens, catfish and dairy cows of two GM lines of glyphosate-resistant soybean (GTS). The growth, feed conversion efficiency, catfish fillet composition, broiler breast muscle and fat pad weights and milk production, rumen fermentation and digestibilities in cows were found to be similar for GTS and non-GTS. These studies had the following lacunae: (a) No individual feed intakes, body or organ weights were given and histology studies were qualitative microscopy on the pancreas, (b) The feeding value of the two GTS lines was not substantially equivalent either because the rats/catfish grew significantly better on one of the GTS lines than on the other, (c) The design of study with broiler chicken was not much convincing, (d) Milk production and performance of lactating cows also showed significant differences between cows fed GM and non-GM feeds and (e) Testing of the safety of 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase, which renders soybeans glyphosate-resistant (Harrison et al. 1996), was irrelevant because in the gavage studies an E. coli recombinant and not the GTS product were used. In a separate study (Teshima et al. 2000), it was claimed that rats and mice which were fed 30 % toasted GTS or non-GTS in their diet had no significant differences in nutritional performance, organ weights, histopathology and production of IgE and IgG antibodies.

GM potatoes

There were no improvements in the protein content or amino acid profile of GM potatoes (Hashimoto et al. 1999a). In a short feeding study to establish the safety of GM potatoes expressing the soybean glycinin gene, rats were daily force-fed with 2 g of GM or control potatoes/kg body weight (Hashimoto et al 1999b). No differences in growth, feed intake, blood cell count and composition and organ weights between the groups were found. In this study, the intake of potato by animals was reported to be too low (Pusztai 2001).

Feeding mice with potatoes transformed with a Bacillus thuringiensis var.kurstaki Cry1 toxin gene or the toxin itself was shown to have caused villus epithelial cell hypertrophy and multinucleation, disrupted microvilli, mitochondrial degeneration, increased numbers of lysosomes and autophagic vacuoles and activation of crypt Paneth cells (Fares and El-Sayed 1998). The results showed CryI toxin which was stable in the mouse gut. Growing rats pair-fed on iso-proteinic and iso-caloric balanced diets containing raw or boiled non-GM potatoes and GM potatoes with the snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) bulb lectin (GNA) gene (Ewen and Pusztai 1999) showed significant increase in the mucosal thickness of the stomach and the crypt length of the intestines of rats fed GM potatoes. Most of these effects were due to the insertion of the construct used for the transformation or the genetic transformation itself and not to GNA which had been pre-selected as a non-mitotic lectin unable to induce hyperplastic intestinal growth (Pusztai et al. 1990) and epithelial T lymphocyte infiltration.

GM rice

The kind that expresses soybean glycinin gene (40� mg glycinin/g protein) was developed (Momma et al. 1999) and was claimed to contain 20 % more protein. However, the increased protein content was found probably due to a decrease in moisture rather than true increase in protein.

GM cotton

Several lines of GM cotton plants have been developed using a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki providing increased protection against major lepidopteran pests. The lines were claimed to be “substantially equivalent” to parent lines (Berberich et al. 1996) in levels of macronutrients and gossypol. Cyclopropenoid fatty acids and aflatoxin levels were less than those in conventional seeds. However, because of the use of inappropriate statistics it was questionable whether the GM and non-GM lines were equivalent, particularly as environmental stresses could have unpredictable effects on anti-nutrient/toxin levels (Novak and Haslberger 2000).

GM peas

The nutritional value of diets containing GM peas expressing bean alpha-amylase inhibitor when fed to rats for 10ꃚys at two different doses viz. 30 % and 65 % was shown to be similar to that of parent-line peas (Pusztai et al. 1999). At the same time in order to establish its safety for humans a more rigorous specific risk assessment will have to be carried out with several GM lines. Nutritional/toxicological testing on laboratory animals should follow the clinical, double-blind, placebo-type tests with human volunteers.

What Are Genetically Modified Foods? - Recipes

A new report claims that genetically modified foods (or organisms) can damage your health and even cause cancer, but some experts say they’re an inexpensive and healthy way to put dinner on your table. We’re going to be discussing both sides of the issue on our show today. This GMO debate got so hot, our expert guests couldn’t even be on our stage at the same time to discuss their points of view.

Modifying the genetic structure of food is not a new concept. For centuries, farmers have improved our food supply by cross-breeding different types of plants or animals to come up with new organisms that would taste better, yield more, and grow in more difficult conditions. The result is thousands of different crops that feed billions of people.

These practices were once limited to combining the traits of organisms only within the same species. Today, due to advances in biotechnology, that is no longer the case. Scientists can now genetically engineer different species so that they share the same genetic material. For example, they can breed corn with a built-in pesticide that can kill bugs or survive chemical sprays. Or they can move the gene from a fish that lives in cold water into a tomato so it can survive in cold weather. This new technology has the potential to revolutionize how we produce food to feed a growing population – but at what cost?

These advancements have concerned consumers and activists. Though the intentions may be for good, the effects of these foods are controversial. Is this new form of genetic modification safe?

A new French study says no. Why? This is what they found: NK603 is a type of corn that has been genetically modified to be tolerant of a commonly used herbicide, which would eliminate surrounding weeds, but it would also be present in small quantities in the foods we eat. The scientists fed rats NK603 that contained levels of the herbicide. They found the rats eventually developed massive tumors after seven months and died earlier than animals fed a “regular” diet.

However, scientists who are in support of genetically modified foods say the research is flawed – even accusing the authors of going on a “statistical fishing trip” and selecting numbers that suited their study while throwing out the unsuitable data. The opposing scientists also claimed the authors used a breed of rats who were bred to develop tumors as they aged anyway. The authors failed to mention the amount of food given in the article, which is important since high amounts of food, GMO or normal, can increase the risk of tumors. Not to mention, they also had a very small control group (fed non-GMO food) of 20 rats that also developed tumors.

Despite the results of the contested study, more research needs to be done on the long-term effects of genetically modified foods on humans. Until that happens, many European countries, like Russia and the UK, have already banned certain types of GMOs for human consumption.

Amidst this controversy, California voters will decide if food companies should label genetically modified food products. Proposition 37 will be on the ballot on November 6 this year. If passed, California will “require labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.” Furthermore, those companies will be prohibited from labeling or advertising such food as “natural.”

Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association support voluntary labels, while recognizing that “there currently is no evidence that there are material differences or safety concerns in available bioengineered foods.” Read this statement provided by the FDA.

I will be keeping an eye on this California proposition in November to see what happens. Find out what foods to avoid for your safety until more research comes out.

Right now in the United States, about 60% to 70% of the foods on our grocery store shelves contain GMOs, and there is absolutely no labeling to indicate this. As a result, we cannot always be certain whether the foods we are consuming are GMO or not, and the number of GMO foods is growing. This is absolute craziness.

The affects of GMOs

Animal studies on the effects of GMO foods have revealed all kinds of issues, including infertility problems, immune system complications, accelerated aging, insulin issues, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. Most of this research is funded by industries with a vested interest in finding no negative effects, so outcomes are always in their favor! And there have be no studies done on the long-term effects …

The Non-GMO Project is a nonprofit organization committed to preserving and building the non-GMO food supply, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. Here is their response when asked if GMOs are safe:

“Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.”

There are positive steps you can take to avoid GMOs and it starts by buying organic foods that contain the 100 percent USDA certified organic label. GMOs are not permitted in organic products. If you cannot afford organic, then look for Non GMO Project seals. Buying local is also a great way to avoid GMOs ask questions of your vendors about the lifecycle of the product and the philosophy of the producer.

Organic or Non-GMO?

Max Goldberg is one of the nation’s leading organic food experts and keeps us well informed on his website. Some of his readers tend to confuse the terms organic and non-GMO. So here’s the deal: non-GMO is not better than organic. Look for 100 percent USDA certified organic because all organic food should be non-GMO. Non-GMO is always second best to organic. If the product you want to purchase comes in a box, a can, or a jar, read the labels and check every single ingredient.

Here are some at-risk ingredients to avoid because they are probably genetically modified:

  • Beet sugar
  • Canola rapeseed
  • Corn ingredients and products
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Soy ingredients
  • Papaya
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Yellow squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

Actions you can take to ensure a non-GMO future for food production:

  • Stop buying GMO and processed foods. In the 2014 documentary Origins David Wolfe suggests you “vote with your money.” If you stop buying processed foods, there will be no market for them.
  • Get involved. Insist that your governments conduct their own studies on the safety of GMOs rather than relying on studies conducted by biotech companies who are only in it for the money.
  • In April of 2014, Vermont was successful in passing a no-GMO bill, yet the very next month, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) confirmed it would sue in an attempt to overturn the bill. Jackson County in Oregon is the only other state that has had some success in banning the growth of GMO crops.
  • Stop supporting junk food restaurants. We were delighted to read that McDonalds reported a 30% drop in revenues for 2015 and is closing 700 locations. We’re sure it’s because of these revenue drops that McDonalds announced that they will be launching their first organic hamburger in Germany. Yay! If we continue to send the McDonalds’ of the world the message that we don’t want to eat unhealthy food, they will be forced to incorporate new, healthier, affordable choices into their menus if they want to survive.
  • Ban these brands from your grocery cart:
    • Pepsi Cola
    • Nestle
    • Kraft
    • General Mills
    • Naked Juice
    • Gerber
    • Organic Boca Burgers
    • Cascadian Farms
    • Simply Frito-Lay

    You can be proactive. Even if all you do is a sign a petition, it’s a great place to start. And please, let your governments know that what they are doing to our food supply is totally unacceptable. Make them accountable by asking them why they subsidize junk food, making it so affordable yet not organic food?

    More Resources

    For more detailed information on GMOs in your food, pick up your copy of the Recipes for Life Boxed Set.

    Access your complementary recipe here.

    Health Coach Rita Thomas and Chef Erin Holm hope to inspire families, friends and communities to live happier, healthier and more delicious lives.
    By admin on April 12, 2016

    GMF Controversy and Critics

    Critics argue that genetically modified foods should be labeled differently from conventionally produced food. They argue there is uncertainty regarding the long-term health impacts on consumers, as well as the impact on the environment. For example, genetically modified organisms may squeeze out conventional fruits and vegetables from the environment. This in turn could impact animals, insects and other organisms that depend on those plants to survive. Critics also worry that genes from genetically modified organisms may move to conventional crops (cross-fertilization), or may be transferred from food to the consumer.

    Several countries have passed or proposed legislation regulating the development and use of genetically modified organisms in the food supply. Others have taken steps to ban them outright. More than half the 28 countries in the European Unionincluding Germany and Francehave banned farmers from growing genetically modified crops, though imports of GMF animal feed is still allowed. Several regions such as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have also joined the anti-GMF movement, but the United Kingdom itself has no formal GMF ban.  

    Only one GM crop has been approved and grown in Europe: a type of maize that is resistant to a weevil called the European corn borer. The only farmers to grow the maize are primarily in Spain where weevils are a problem. The map below shows which countries around the world have full, partial or no restrictions on GMF.