Why I said Goodbye to GMOs

GMOs

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, have been a hot button issue for some time. Personally, I choose not to consume GMOs whenever possible because of the potential environmental, social, and health issues that might arise from their consumption.

Some of you might have heard the term GMO being thrown around, but perhaps are not aware of what it means exactly. GMOs are defined as organisms that have had their DNA altered in such a way that does not occur in nature. Some of the most common genetically modified foods grown in America include: Sugar beets (95%), Soy (94%) and Canola (93%). A major issue with these crops being genetically modified is the fact that they are additives in so many different foods. In fact, it is estimated that in America, upwards of 70% of conventional foods in grocery stores contain GMOs.

So, you might be asking yourself, why are companies creating genetically modified seeds, and why are farmers using them? Well, specific crops like corn and cotton have had their genetic makeup changed to ensure they can survive herbicide and pesticide treatments and resist certain diseases. However, the issue is that weeds are now becoming desensitized to herbicides, and pests desensitized to pesticides, requiring even more chemicals to be used to keep these populations down and crop production up. This desensitization of weeds and pests has given rise to the terms “super weeds” and “super bugs.” Also, the increased use of toxic products can have serious implications for our environment with some arguing that this increase in chemicals is contributing to the decline of honeybee, hummingbird, and butterfly populations.

Also keep in mind that the environment is not the only potential victim of GMOs. Farmers also can have their fair share of legal issues with these crops and their seeds. Since genetically modified seeds are patented and protected, only farmers with permission and paid royalties are legally allowed to use these seeds. However, there have been cases of several farmers whose land has become contaminated with GMO seed. Although, this occurs from seeds simply drifting in from a nearby farm, they are still faced with the possibility of legal action.

Another important factor to note is that many developed nations do not consider GMOs safe and there are restrictions or bans on the production and sale of GMOs in more than 60 countries. This also includes all of the countries in the European Union. Some researchers even argue that the promotion of genetically modified foods in the food supply has played a role in the increase of food allergies.

For those of you looking to avoid GMOs search for the USDA Organic symbol, which requires the crop to be grown without the use of a GMO seed, and for a little extra, also limits the products the farmer can use to grow his or her crop, which gives the customer a little more peace of mind. You can also look for the Non-GMO verified seal. This is the only third party verification organization in America for “products produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance.”

Ultimately, I always keep in mind that every time I buy something I am voting with my dollar. I feel that by minimizing the amount of conventional foods I purchase, I am sending a message to food companies that I want my food the way Mother Nature intended.  And always remember…every voice counts.

My partner and I at an Anti-GMO walk.

References:

http://www.responsibletechnology.org/resources/powerpoint-presentation-on-gmos
https://www.organicconsumers.org/essays/gmos-are-killing-bees-butterflies-birds-and
http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/10/monsanto-wins-lawsuit_n_3417081.html

 

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