Let’s get scientific about our food and examine GMO’s.
First, a definition: Genetically Modified Organisms are defined as an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there.
Second, The purpose of genetically altering plants is to improve their durability through drought tolerance or disease resistance or their nutritional value. And these changes are aimed at increasing yield and lowering costs. That sounds pretty good. But is it safe for human consumption? Not everyone agrees. This is a very controversial subject.
In the US, the FDA regulates the safety of food for humans and animals, including foods from GM plants. Food developers of GM plants are to conduct a safety assessment that is submitted to the FDA for evaluation. Concerned groups and individuals question the validity of these assessments with regard to human health and environmental safety.
Getting further into details, let’s look at the top offenders. The most common GMO’s are soy, corn and cotton, (top 3 crops grown in the US), canola, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa and squash (zucchini & yellow). Many of these items appear as added ingredients in a large amount of the foods we eat. For example, soy is most likely present in a large percent of the foods in your pantry. And corn and soybeans are eaten by livestock or made into popular processed food ingredients such as cornstarch, soybean oil, or high-fructose corn syrup. Aha! HFCS is a red button alert in today’s weight loss world. Again, check the labels on your foods packages.
The food industry says 75% – 80% of foods contain GMO ingredients, most of those corn and soy-based. The FDA says they are safe to eat. Hmmm.
Bottom line folks, is that people want to know what’s in their food! So, let’s focus on recent news that offers some peace of mind.
Unless you scour the news media for updates on food legislation, you may have missed that July was an epic month for GMO news. In July, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that will require labeling of genetically modified ingredients for the first time. The legislation will require most food packages to carry a text label, a symbol or an electronic code readable by smartphones that indicates whether the food contains GMO’s. The only caveat, is that the Agricultural Department has 2 years to write the rules.
Also in July, Vermont became the first state to require written labels on foods known as GMO’s. The Vermont law requires items to be labeled “produced with genetic engineering”.
Lastly, according to the Organic Trade Association, “The use of GMO’’s is strictly prohibited in organic products.” This means that an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup maker can’t use GMO ingredients.
So what’s within our control? Gardening comes to mind. But for those with less time on your hands, shopping organic is one of the best steps you can take towards ensuring that your family eats the healthiest foods possible.
Eating healthy will require checking package labels more frequently than you are accustomed to, but the rewards from eating healthy are many. Begin checking labels the next time you shop. And make it a habit.
Written by Jackie Tate 7-1-16 and published in Chadds Ford Live August 20, 2016.