What are GMOs?
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants, animals and bacteria that are engineered for various purposes ranging from agricultural production to scientific research. GMOs are created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
What crops are commonly genetically modified?
More and more foods and products are being genetically engineered or contain genetically engineered ingredients. Here are eight of the most common to look out for. If a product contains these ingredients and is not labeled non-GMO Verified or Organic Certified, there’s a good chance it contains GMOs:
- Sugar Beets
- Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash
ALSO high-risk: animal products (milk, meat, eggs, honey, etc.) because much animal feed is made from genetically modified soy, corn, and cottonseed. Read more »
What product ingredients commonly contain genetically engineered crops?
Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ethanol, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products. Read more »
Why should we be concerned about GMOs?
Human Health Risks: More and more studies point to the idea that there’s grave cause for concern about the health effects of consuming GMOs and the chemicals they are sprayed with, including food allergies, irritable bowels, organ damage, cancer
Environmental Risks: Seventy-two percent of US GMO crops are engineered to tolerate a certain type of herbicide. But the weeds that these herbicides used to kill are coming back bigger and stronger, creating herbicide-resistant “superweeds” that require greater quantities of more toxic pesticides to eradicate.
The Risk To Farmers In Developing Countries: Every thirty minutes, a farmer commits suicide in India due to meet rising debts, a phenomenon that has been steadily rising since the 1970s. While the causes behind the farmers’ crushing debt and resultant suicides are complex—ranging from unfair government floor prices for cotton to international trade agreements skewed in favor of other countries—GM seeds do appear to play a role.
The Risk to Organic Farmers: Even when a farmer isn’t growing GM crops, contamination can easily occur—through seed mixing or pollen drift from neighboring GM fields. While this contamination is troubling for those of us who wish to avoid GMOs, it can be an economic disaster for organic and family farmers. Read more »
How can we avoid GMOs?
There are several choices you can make when buying groceries and eating out to try and avoid GMOS.
- Look for the Non-GMO Project label.
- Buy organic certified produce and packaged foods.
- Avoid high-risk ingredients.
- Be wary of non-GMO claims that lack certification.
- Avoid processed foods.
- Watch out for restaurants.
- Buy and plant your own organic seeds.