Genetically Modified Foods are everywhere. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are infiltrating our foods. It’s happening without us even knowing about it. GMOs are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
Are GMOs safe?
Most developed nations do not consider GMOs safe. Scientists and food safety advocates have suggested that genetically engineered foods might harm the immune system, lead to dangerous antibiotic resistance or result in new and untreatable allergies. For example in 1996, scientists inserted a Brazil nut gene into a soybean to make the bean more nutritious. The result was a soybean that triggered nut allergies in people. Unfortunately, as consumers, we are eating these modified foods without knowing it. There have been a limited number of safety tests conducted.
Genetically engineered plants are also turning up where they aren’t wanted. In 2006, the USDA announced that an unapproved variety of genetically engineered long-grain rice had contaminated non-engineered rice fields in 5 states.
What Foods are Most Likely to Contain GMOs?
High-Risk Crops (as of December 2011):
- Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
- Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
- Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
- Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
- Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)
What Can You Do?
- Start looking for labels that say “No GMOs” or your best option is buy organic, which by law can not be genetically modified.
- Avoid non-organic corn and soy products , since they will most likely contain GMOs.
For more information on how you can avoid GMO’s, check out the “Non-GMO Project” at http://www.nongmoproject.org/.