More than likely, you’ve heard GMOs are bad for you. But why? What makes GMOs so bad and how can you make sure you and your family aren’t eating foods full of them? With the help of Dr. Kevin Smith, D.C., Chiropractic Director of Chiro One Wellness Center of Old Town, we’ve compiled an easy-to-understand guide to avoiding GMOs.
What is GMO?
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. “The idea behind a GMO is to genetically alter the genome of the organism through mutation, deletion or addition of genetic material,” says Dr Kevin. “In some cases the additional genetic material comes from another species. Basically, it means the DNA from two different species that would never come in contact is combined.”
That doesn’t sound like anything that should be eaten, right? Well, it shouldn’t. The health consequences of GMOs are not fully understood, but initial studies don’t look great. And these mutant genes boast adverse effects in our environment, too. Monarch butterflies died when their food of choice, milkweed, cross-pollinated with GMO corn, and when GMOs that helped create a new amino acid in Japan were used in a protein drink, several illnesses and deaths were reported before the product was recalled.
Why Use GMOs?
There are hundreds of reasons for the agriculture and science industries to create foods with GMOs. Resistance to pests and pesticides, increased yield for crops, medical research and improved look/taste/feel of food represent just a handful.
How Prevalent is GMO?
The first GMO food product was introduced in 1996. Today, nearly 88 percent of all corn is genetically modified and almost all infant formulas contain GMOs. A study conducted at the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Quebec, Canada found 93 percent of pregnant women had GMOs in their blood and 80 percent of their fetuses.
How Can You Avoid Foods with GMOs?
- Know which foods are most likely to contain GMOs, such as corn, soybeans, canola oil, dairy products, sugar, papaya, zucchini and baked goods.
- Make sure your organic foods are certified by QAI (Quality Assurance International), Oregon Tilth or California Certified Organic Farmers.
- Pay attention to the number on produce food labels. A four-digit number means the food is conventionally grown. A five-digit number beginning with eight means that it has GMOs. A five-digit number beginning with nine is what you want. That stands for organic.
- With regard to beef, make sure it is 100 percent grass-fed and either pasture-fed or grass-finished.
- Look for foods labeled “non-GMO” or “GMO-free”.
- If all else fails, consider growing your own food. There’s nothing better than fruits and vegetables from your own garden.