Thursday, May 30, 2013

So What's the Deal with GMOs?

So what's the deal with GMOs? Why is everyone mad about them, why don't companies want us to know when we're eating them, and what's the big deal? Well, here's the deal.

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms, which are plants or animals that have been engineered using DNA from bacteria, viruses, or other plants or animals. GMOs are man-made or manipulated to meet the increasing demands of the food marketplace. Since genetically modifying food makes it produce a higher yield, be more resistant to drought and infection, and better tolerate the addition of nutrients, this type of science makes a lot of sense for food companies because they can make more food faster, which makes them more money. And remember, food companies are corporations, not human health service organizations, despite the smiling pictures of friendly neighborhood farmers on their packages of chips.

But what's good for a corporate budget isn't always good for humanity. More evidence is showing increased health problems and environmental damage as a result of GMOs. When I say health problems, I mean that GMOs have been linked to thousands of sick and dead livestock and damage to virtually every organ studied in lab animals. The reason is because genetically modified food is not food. It is a food-like substance. And the human body was created to eat food, not food-like substances.

GMOs are so serious that most developed nations, including Australia, Japan, the European Union, and dozens more, restrict or ban the production and sale of them. Why has America not taken the same position? Read the second paragraph again.

The reason why people are up in arms about GMOs these days is because we are becoming increasingly convinced that eating food-like substance is bad for us, and that we have a right to know whether or not what we are eating is food. Back in the good old days, if you wanted to eat healthfully you could do what I did when I started eating clean: focus on fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, and avoid packaged foods. With the prevalence of GMOs, even these foods may not in fact be foods.

A lot of people think that we have a fundamental right to know whether we are in fact eating food, or if we are eating something that looks a lot like food but is in fact a man-made product posing as food. But, the United States does not require GMOs to be labeled, which prevents us from knowing the origin of our food unless we grow it ourselves. There are some enterprising and hard-working people out there who are willing to do this, but it is not a realistic option for most of us.

So what's a food-eating human to do? Well, food companies might not be required to label whether their products contain GMOs, but a few organizations have done that research for us:

The Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers an informed choice. They verify products and list them so you can be aware of which boxes on the shelf contain food and which do not. Check the list of Verified Products on their website before you head to the store. 

If you forget that list at home, no fear! This handy phone app, Buycott, lets you scan a barcode and see whether it contains GMO ingredients. When GMOs stop being profitable, they stop being.

And, you can take action as well by signing the Just Label It petition. Seriously, folks, this is about our food. Its our sustenance. Its what we feed our kids, and what our future depends on. We will most literally and completely die without it. You have a responsibility for your own health, and if you're going to choose a battle, choose this one.

Now, a note of reality - just as with the certified organic seal, foods that are listed as non-GMO are not necessarily healthy for you. There is plenty of sugary candy food out there bearing the organic and non-GMO labels. GMO-free only means that it is pure, natural, and real. Not healthy. There is a difference.

Get out there and get healthy today, even if it means you have to get all up in arms about food quality. That battle is worth it, because you are worth it.

No comments: