Thursday, July 29, 2010

Just Say "No" to GMO's


Genetically modified organisms, GMO's for short, are a loaded topic. A genetically modified organism is a plant or animal that has had genes from other organisms inserted into its DNA structure.  A huge reason for the popularity of GMO's is because of agriculture.  Some people think GMO's are going to save our planet from world hunger.  By modifying plants, they can grow under harsher conditions and/or more quickly.  The same with animals.  For instance, an "antifreeze" gene from fish has been introduced to tomatoes so that they can grow in colder weather.  And salmon has a gene from another fish, called a pout, that enables it to continuously produce growth steroids anyone?  

The popularity of GMO's in the US is unfortunately growing.  You'll be surprised to learn what countries already have restrictions on GMO's.  See the list below (courtesy of

The following countries have banned or restricted the import, distribution, sale, utilization, field trials and commercial planting of GMO’s:
  • Africa: Algeria, Egypt
  • Asia: Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Japan, Phillipines
  • Europe: The European Union, Norway, Austria, Germany United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Luxembourg, Portugal
  • Latin America: Brazil, Paraguay
  • Middle East: Saudi Arabia
  • North America: Maryland has banned GE (genetically engineered) fish and North Dakota and Montana have filed bans on GE wheat. The Municipalities of Burlington, Vermont (declared a moratorium on GE food), Boulder, Colorado (bans on GE crops) and the City and County of San Francisco (urged the federal government to ban GE food) are the only towns or states to take some sort of stand against plants, animals, foods, crops and body products that are, or contain Genetically Modified Organisms.
    NOTE: The U.S. government, and the FDA do not require anything Genetically Modified to be identified on ingredient lists. Genetically Modified foods and products are in widespread use and distribution throughout the U.S.
  • Pacific: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Australia, New Zealand
Percentage of crops that are Genetically Modified in the U.S.:
  • Soy (85%)
  • Cotton (Cottonseed) (76%)
  • Canola (75%)
  • Corn (40%)
  • Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%)
  • Zucchini and Yellow Squash (small amount)
  • Quest brand tobacco (100%)
GMO's are controversial. (What topic on this blog hasn't been?)  Scientists state that there are no negative side effects from eating genetically modified plants and animals.  What does your gut think? Mine says that we are trying to play the role of God (or whoever is in charge).  If tomatoes were meant to grow in the cold weather, they would!  And if fish were meant to grow faster, they'd be able to!  But alas, they do not.  

How can someone believe that slicing and dicing the genetic makeup - essentially, the being - of a plant or animal do not change them and how they react in our bodies?  My suggestion is to avoid GMO's.  Unfortunately, it's hard to identify what is a GMO or what products contain it. There is no law in the US that requires for GMO's to be labeled.  I have seen some products state that they are GMO-free.  Also, by default, organic produce and packaged food do not contain GMO's.  Here is a shopping guide with a ton more information.  As consumers, we vote for what we want to buy every time we are at the register.  Make wiser choices and companies will respond!!  Take action!
Check back tomorrow for a post on how to read those numbered produce stickers at the grocery store.

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