Are GMO dangers a real threat? Or are GMOs in food something that we can trust? In this article, Danielle explains the impact that GMO food can have on health along with ways to make sure your family eats the safest foods possible.
What are GMOs?
GMOs stand for “genetically modified organisms.” These organisms contain DNA that has been modified by human hands, not to be confused with the popular method of “crossbreeding.”
Crossbreeding naturally mates two types of the same plant or organism to produce a more desirable organism – such as breeding a cabbage to have more red than green, or breeding a tomato to be a bit smaller or larger.
This is natural, normal, and has been going on since the beginning of time.
GMOs have not.
In a laboratory, scientists can now modify an entire genome by adding a gene from another organism or a gene that has been artificially made. Also known as “transgenic” breeding, a popular example is RoundUp Ready corn or soybeans.
These are crops that have been genetically modified to withstand RoundUp pesticide.
Since GMO seeds and pesticides go hand in hand, we have to consider the safety of both.
Are genetically modified foods safe?
This has been the big question for years.
In March 2015, the World Health Organization deemed glyphosate, one of the most popular pesticides used for GMO plants, as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” In the United States, we’ve seen thousands of lawsuits citing bodily harm from pesticides.
A California groundskeeper won a lawsuit which found that RoundUp likely was a key player in his cancer.
Those who rely on the science that non-GMO and GMO products both have the same macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) say that GMO dangers don’t exist.
But GMO status doesn’t tell us if modified foods have the same micronutrients, which are so important to our health. Or even if they have other factors that affect health.
In addition to this, studies used to back GMO safety span short periods of time. To fully understand GMO dangers, we need research that looks at the big picture and investigates the effects of long-term exposure.
The FDA and US government perform no safety analysis of GMO foods. Instead, the companies who manufacture GMO seeds and pesticides voluntarily submit studies – paid for and done by them.
It is no wonder that they deem GMOs in food as “safe” despite clear GMO dangers.
What are the dangers of GMO foods?
Independent scientists have seen tumors grow in mice fed GMO corn diets, and not in the non-GMO fed mice. These mice also experienced liver and kidney damage.
Another study found that even low levels of glyphosate – the herbicide used with Roundup Ready crops – can mimic estrogen in the body and produce breast cancer.
Other studies and countries reveal that GMO pesticides cause birth defects and malformations.
Furthermore, genetically modified foods have been sprayed with chemicals in the field, such as glyphosate.
Glyphosate is a cancer-causing herbicide that used with GMO crops. The use of noxious pesticides adds another layer of gut and nervous system damage to the already present dangers of GMO foods.
Some crops – like corn, cotton, and soybean – carry a modification known as the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin gene, making them resistant to pests. But when we consume the Bt toxin, we now know that it combines into our DNA.
The full effects of this have not been studied. This toxin may even cause antibiotic resistance in consumers.
In 2007, scientists began speculating that Bt crops caused colony collapse disorder – or a nationwide phenomenon of disappearing bees.
This tells us that independent scientists found the following GMO dangers:
- Antibiotic resistance
- Birth defects
- Liver and kidney damage
- Gut damage
At this point, it doesn’t look good for the safe use of GMOs. We need more independent studies to determine the long-term effects of GMOs.
Beware of GMO dangers lurking in these foods
You’ll find GMOs in nearly all processed corn, soy, rapeseed (canola), and sugar beet products.
Click here to find a full list of possible GMOs.
Even if a product is not genetically modified, it may contain harmful pesticides or herbicides.
To avoid GMOs, shop locally for produce and meat. Visit your neighborhood farmer’s market. At natural grocery stores, look for “organic” or “NON-GMO” foods.
The organic label certifies that the product was organically grown, using only natural herbicides or pesticides. A non-GMO label specifies that a product is not genetically modified.
A focus on traditional, whole foods will naturally limit your GMO intake.
Regarding pesticides, shop organic when buying the “Dirty Dozen.” These are fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticides remaining when you purchase them.
Also, be on the lookout for GMO salmon in the United States. Already sold in Canada, in 2019 the US will see extra large Atlantic salmon that contains a growth hormone gene from the Chinook salmon.
Where are GMOs banned?
Since the dawn of time, farmers have reused seeds from last year’s crop to plant this year. Monsanto and other GMO seed producers not only ban the reuse of their seeds but litigate farmers who do so.
This is financially devastating to farmers.
Because of this and the health impact of GMOs, many countries have outright banned them. Twenty-six countries in the world have banned the cultivation of GMO foods in their country. This includes Germany, France, Greece, and Austria.
Russia has banned both the cultivation and sale of GMOs in their country.
Sixty-four countries of the world require GMOs to be labeled, such as Australia, the entire European Union, and Japan.
Clearly, this isn’t a questionable issue.
Why won’t the US ban GMOs in food? It has to do a lot with the government farm subsidies that mostly benefit GMO farmers and the monopoly that GMO seed producers – like Monsanto, DuPont, and Bayer – have on the US.
So what can we do? We can avoid GMO foods as best we can.
But, we also need to talk with our legislators and vote with our dollars. We need to encourage better GMO labeling and ultimately the ban of GMO seeds and foods sold in the US.