Grains with laboratory equipment.

The One Label You Should Be Paying Attention To

Organic and Non-GMO, they are pretty much the same thing right? Not so much. Our food comes with a lot of labels, but let’s talk about why non-GMO is one label we really need to pay attention to.

What Is GMO?

GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism”. Organism stands for any living being including, plants, animals, or microorganisms whose genetic makeup (DNA) has been changed using technology. This means some scientists are using man-made technology to change the DNA of all types of food from corn to salmon.

Why Do Scientists Genetically Modify Things?

Genetic modification of organisms was a step taken by scientists to try and improve the food supply. The first GMO food approved by the FDA was a tomato called the “flavr savr” tomato. It was developed to have a delayed ripening and therefore a longer shelf life. In theory it would be a better tomato for longer, reducing food waste and increasing quality. After this, genetic modification of food has been used for everything from pest resistance to weather tolerance.

Why Are GMOs Bad for Me?

When foods are genetically modified, they are not just modified with DNA from other plants. Most of the time, food is modified with genes from bacteria or even chemical components. These chemical components can be from herbicide or weed killers such as Round-up. This means when you are eating GMO food you are eating chemicals, and these pesticides can’t be washed off because they are part of the food’s DNA.

Since GMOs have been introduced to the world in 1996, the rate of many health issues has increased, such as food allergies, cancer, autism, and chronic illness as a whole. One study showed that GMO food can weaken the immune system and cause organ damage. It is even suggested that genetically modified foods can alter the DNA of human beings once ingested.

Why Are GMOs Bad for the Environment?

Although it may seem like engineering food to be weed and pest could be helpful to farmers, in the long run it has become a farmer's worst nightmare. In nature everything evolves, and that includes weeds and insects. By changing the genetic makeup of the food, the weeds and insects have become super resistant to any pesticides or herbicides. This forces farmers to use extremely harsh chemicals on their crops. Some of these chemicals are so harsh farmers have to wear hazmat suits to protect themselves in the fields. Because of this, crops that are not sprayed with these harsh chemicals stand no chance against the super strong weeds and insects.

Furthermore, GMOs last forever. The DNA is changed in these plants and animals. Once they procreate, this genetic change is passed on to the offspring. That means, if GMO corn is grown down the road from organic corn, and wind helps the GMO seeds get to the organic farm, cross pollination will allow for that organic corn to now have genetically modified DNA.

What Does the Rest of the World Think of GMOs?

Over sixty countries all over the world, including the entire European Union require GMO food to be labeled. And many have started banning genetically modified foods all together, because they consider them unsafe. However, here in the United States, any push for labeling or banning of GMO foods tends to be immediately shot down.

How Can I Become Non-GMO?

All of this may seem overwhelming and scary, but there is still a way to avoid GMO foods. Organizations have started campaigns, like the “NON GMO Project” to label non-GMO foods. They verify foods that have not been genetically modified, and allow them to carry this label. Also many local health food stores have taken a stand to not carry any genetically modified foods. So shopping small and local may help take out the nuisance of sifting through products.

GMO foods are bad for our bodies and the earth. Stay educated and shop smart to help stop GMO foods from taking over our food supply.

The information in this article is for general educational purposes only, and should not be construed or interpreted as medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new heathcare regimen. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article or any linked materials.

Anna Mahoney is a Licensed Acupuncturist with a Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition from Rutgers University. In her practice, she focuses on bringing her patients back to health through Chinese Medicine, nutritional counseling, and overall wellness care. In her personal life, she is a passionate cook, musician, yogi, and athlete. Anna lives in New Jersey, with her husband, John, and their dog, Betty. Anna blogs at The Green Banana.