According to the Non-GMO shopping guide, farmers and scientists have been naturally crossbreeding plants and animals for years to obtain a more desirable product. With technological advancements, scientists are now able to insert genetic material that is foreign to that species. Genetically modified organisms have been altered by DNA of other animals, plants, viruses or bacteria to yield a larger and more durable product that is unable to occur naturally.
This can be done in several different ways but one of the more interesting ones is by coating DNA onto tiny metal pellets and firing into cells with a specialized gun. A great example of the use of GMOs in food is the venomous cabbage. Scientists were looking for a way to avoid pesticides but wanted to keep the caterpillars away, so they injected cabbage cells with scorpion venom, modified to be harmless to humans. Since the use of biotechnology to modify foods is a relatively new development, no one knows the long-term effects it may have on our health. Messing around with Mother Nature can be a very dangerous idea and some studies have shown allergic reactions, increased risk of cancer, and even death due to GMOs.
According to the Non-GMO project, GMOs have been restricted or banned in over 60 countries, including the entire European Union. However, the United States does not even require labeling them in a product. One reason for this may be the ability to vaccinate large populations through food. Imagine if your doctor just handed you a banana for your chicken pox vaccine. For many people, the idea of the government controlling their health is terrifying and unjustified. Be sure to educate yourself on foods that contain GMOs, any risks involved with that modification, and good alternatives if you want to avoid them all together. High-risk crops for GMOs are alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, zucchini, yellow squash, and all animal products fed by these items. Most of these items are used in oil form in processed foods. In fact, approximately 75% of processed food in the grocery store contains GMOs.
If the food you buy is USDA Organic, it’s definitely GMO free. Read Organic Products: Are they Worth It, for the lowdown on why you should buy organic foods. Also be sure to visit the Non GMO Project if you need more information on GMOs.