GMOs: The Debate Continues
There is a lot of debate about the safety of GMOs in our food. Much of this debate stems from confusion about what GMOs are, and whether or not they are harmful to our health when consumed.
To help clear things up and gain a better understanding of GMOs, let’s address some of the basics.
It is getting harder and harder these days to find a neutral opinion on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Some call GMO food “Frankenfood” while others praise them as “scientific progress”. More and more people are demanding to know what foods are GMO, and current labeling laws are not much help. No matter where you fall on the GMO debate, you deserve to know what you put in your body.
What is GMO?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms that contain artificially altered genetic material that would not otherwise occur in nature. Today “genetic engineering” refers instead to the direct editing of DNA to cause changes in an organism.
The purpose of a GMO crop isn’t necessarily to produce a healthier food, but rather to produce a crop that is more resistant to the effects of disease, weather, insects, and other factors that can inhibit a crop’s ability to survive.
What foods are genetically modified?
When GMOs were first introduced in the ‘70s, the scientific community greeted them as the future of biology. Scientists now had the technology to edit the genetic master code of organisms, the ultimate biohack. While the uses of genetic engineering range from chemical production to pharmaceuticals, its most debated use is in food production.
Many of the products we eat everyday are affected by GMOs. Crops include canola, corn, soy, and sugar beet and usually become ingredients in processed food. Other food products include papayas from Hawaii, squash from the US, and certain milk ingredients and dairy products.
There are those who believe GMOs pose a threat to humans, the environment, and animals, and others who think GMOs are harmless.
Studies are contradicting, and few long-term human or animal studies are available, exposing claims on both sides of the fence to criticism.
How to keep GMOs out of your food:
Know the most common offenders: The most common GMO crops are corn, cotton, canola, soy, sugar beet, papaya from China or Hawaii, and some varieties of yellow squash.
Check the label: Both the Certified organic and non-GMO Project Verified labels guarantee that a product is non-GMO. When it comes to produce, avoid common GMOs by looking for either of these labels.
Avoid processed foods: Products made with common GMO foods are harder to identify, but carry the same risks.
Read ingredient lists: Many additives are processed forms of GMO foods, under sneaky names like lecithins, syrups, alcohols, aspartame, maltodextrin, citric acid, dextrose, xanthan gum, and certain vitamins, vinegars and yeast.
As you can tell, the debate on GMOs is very much a hot topic. So whether or not you choose to go GMO-free, be sure to stay informed and keep up to date! If you want to test out some terrific non-GMO options, why not try our coconut snacks and waters?