GMOs...What's the Big Deal?

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have a bad reputation, but are they all bad? Scientists have been tinkering with nature for centuries and it hasn’t been all bad. Food manufactures, because of the growing trend to avoid GMO projects, have made some hefty changes in what it offers in the food market. More and more products are being labeled and certified that they do not contain GMO ingredients, largely due to activist organizations against GMOs like the Non-GMO Project. So what’s the big deal?

THE GOOD:

Rice is a mainstay in many developing countries, but lacked essential nutrients needed for growth and overall health. Through the use of GMOs, Golden Rice was formulated to provide Vitamin A to combat the deficiency problems in children.

THE BAD:

Herbicides are toxic chemicals that are spayed on weeds but will also kill crops. Scientists thought that if crops were resistant to Roundup then the use of herbicides would be more effective. The idea was that this new way would be better for the environment since there would be less spraying of the herbicide. The original goal of the Roundup ready crop was to reduce the amount of herbicide used on corn. The herbicide, like Roundup, kills plants using a chemical call glyphosate, which inhibits a plant enzyme required for survival. Makes one wonder why the corn crop doesn’t die too. Well, it seems that some crops, like corn, contain a different version of this enzyme that isn’t blocked by the glyphosate.  Unfortunately, with the evolution of herbicide resistant weeds, the farmers will need to increase their herbicide use. This “good thing” didn’t last long.

The motives were good, however, if was difficult to predict the effects, good and bad, of new technological advancements.

For a number of years, less herbicide was used in the killing of weeds; however, today we now have weeds that have become resistant to Roundup. Because of this evolution, farmers have increased the use of herbicides. Scientists now realize engineering plants to be resistant to herbicides is not a long term solution.

You may be wondering if corn and Golden Rice are the only GMO products. According to the Non-GMO Project corn (88%), soy (94%), canola (90%), cottonseed (90%) and sugar beets (95%) are GMOs. That means the oils used in processed foods and table sugar are all GMOs. It wasn’t that long ago that I realized that every time I baked something using sugar, I was feeding my family GMOs. In my mind, sugar came from cane not beets. Sugar beets are white not the dark red beets we think about.

This is a controversial topic and scientist stand on both sides with evidence for good and bad. The Non-GMO Project was formulated as a way to allow consumers the opportunity to choose for themselves whether or not to consume a product that contains GMOs. I’m thankful for initiatives that allow the consumers to make choices for themselves rather than having ingredients disguised in the labeling process.

For myself, I tend to stay away from GMO products mostly for concerns that the Round up ready crops will destroy important gut flora that is essential for overall digestion and health. There just seems to be more people diagnosed with leaky gut, IBS, and Crone’s Disease. Coincidence? Maybe.

Health-bite:  Listen to your gut…what is it saying to you?