Healthstyle Blog

GMO vs Non-GMO: What does it all mean ?

Ben & Jerry’s, Cheerios, Grape-Nuts… these products and more are going non-GMO under pressure from consumers and anti-biotech crop activists. But what is a GMO and why should you care?

Simply put, GMO stands for genetically modified organism. GMO foods are plants or animals created using gene splicing techniques in which scientists merge the DNA of different species. The result is a new breed of animal or variety of plant that otherwise would not occur in nature.

More than 20 years ago, scientists began developing GMO plants that would produce stronger food crops. They wanted to make crops such as corn and sugar beets more resistant to plant diseases caused by insects and viruses. They also wanted to increase the crops’ tolerance of herbicides.

As a result, we’ve all been eating genetically engineered foods since the mid-1990s. But lately, many people have begun to worry that genetic modification could inadvertently lead to the creation of toxins and allergens within our food crops. They’re also concerned that genes from the GMOs could transfer to the cells of our bodies or to the bacteria in our gastrointestinal tracts. However, according to the World Health Organization, the GMO foods currently available are unlikely to be a true danger to human health.

The most common GMOs include:
• Soy
• Cotton
• Canola
• Corn
• Sugar beets
• Papaya (Hawaiian)
• Alfalfa
• Squash (zucchini and yellow)

Many of these items—such as soy and canola—are ingredients in other commonly consumed foods. If you don’t drink soymilk or cook with canola oil, you may still be ingesting these GMOs in other ways—particularly in processed foods. Prepared pizza, chips, cookies, ice cream, salad dressing, corn syrup, and baking powder all may contain ingredients from engineered soybeans, corn or canola.

If you want to avoid GMO foods, experts suggest the following:

• Don’t buy processed foods that contain corn, soy, canola or sugar. By some accounts, more than 70 percent of the processed foods found at grocery stores contain GMO-derived ingredients.

• If you must purchase processed foods, look for those labeled non-GMO or products independent agencies (such as the Non-GMO Project) have verified as free of GMO contamination.

• Buy organic products. According to the Organic Trade Association, “The use of genetically modified organisms is prohibited in organic products.”

• Buy locally grown produce—especially if you can verify with the farmer that he or she is producing non-GMO crops.

• Grow your own produce. When you harvest food from your own garden, you have total control over what you’re feeding your family. I have considered it, however I haven’t quite summed up the courage to do it. I will keep you posted.

Do you have a vegetable garden ? Have you thought about it ? If you have one what types of vegetables did you plant ? Please provide any tips if any if you have successfully planted a vegetable garden. I would love to hear all about it. Post pictures if you can.

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Comments

  1. Tess Worthington

    Is it ok if I use this photo for an article I’m writing for an online publication called Spoon University. I will give photo credits, of course. Let me know, thanks!

    • Kwavi Agbeyegbe

      Hi Tess
      Not sure if its tranferable on its own. I had purchased the image from shutterstock so the image would not be tranferable on its own. The article with the image would be but not the image alone since I don’t own it but purchased it for use within this article. Let me know if you have further questions.

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