One of the most pressing concerns today regarding the pervasiveness of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in North America is whether or not they are safe for our family and children to consume. An estimate of more than 80% of processed foods are said to be made up of GMOs, and the speed with which these franken-foods have overran and continued to spread out within the food industry is nothing short of alarming.
Why GMO Foods are Moot
While most countries around the globe opt to fully disclose information on product labels, the US still does not necessitate any fine points to warn consumers of GMOs creeping around stores and markets. Luckily though, we have already been made aware of the threats it poses to our health and environment as listed below through the many researches done over the years.
- Health Risks. Animal studies apparently link GMOs to health problems like organ damage, GI and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, infertility, and even cancer!
- Unpredictable side effects. More and more scientists now worry that the process of creating genetically-modified plants could cause carcinogens, new allergens, nutritional deficiencies, and toxins that we are currently not prepared to meet head-on. If it took us decades to clear out contaminants like lead and asbestos (which were known elements), how are ready are we to deal with the unspecified by-products of GMOs?
- Crop contamination. Like some plants, GMOs also use cross pollination for reproduction. Unfortunately, those farmers who try to grow organic crops or non-GMO seeds have reported that their fields are being polluted because of the natural process of cross pollination which happens when GMO seeds start going airborne.
- Increased pesticide use. Most GMO crops are generally engineered in a way that they will not become susceptible to certain herbicides. Ironically though, as a result to this, farmers end up using more of these chemicals to control their weeds than before.
- Impacts on the environment. GMOs cause an outbreak of superweeds which have evolved resistance to glyphosate resulting to the use of even more powerful insecticides for weed control. This in turn, ultimately pollutes the soil, lakes, rivers, streams, ground water, and then kills lots of animals and plants that are not targeted by these noxious chemicals but are nonetheless at risk to their harmful effects.
- Monopoly of agriculture. Ideally, farmers should be able to save their own seeds for the next planting cycle or get them from various sources. Today, however, only one company takes control of about 95% of GM seeds. As cross-pollination intensifies, more and more natural crops become contaminated and may no longer be able to produce their own seeds; thus, putting farmers (and us, consumers, too) at the mercy of this giant agribusiness that pays more attention to profit than the people or the planet.
Avoiding GE ingredients entirely isn’t simple. As a matter of fact, some guesstimate reveals that more than 75% of the food in supermarkets is actually genetically engineered. Consumers have to know what to hunt for to make up to date and informed purchasing decisions. To give you an idea, some of the most common GMO products are Hawaiian papaya, soy, canola, cotton, sugar, corn, beets, alfalfa, and squash (zucchini and yellow). Also, GMOs may be hidden in ordinary processed foods like the following: vitamins, amino acids, ascorbic acid, citric acid, aspartame, sodium ascorbate, sodium citrate, flavorings (regardless whether they are natural or artificial), high fructose corn syrup, lactic acid, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, molasses, maltodextrins, sucrose, MSG, textured vegetable protein (TVP), xanthan gum, and yeast products.