Why We Should Avoid GMOs

I’ve been studying nutrition for seven months now, but have been researching the truth about the food industry for over four years. I recently learned something that has stuck in my mind a bit. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) can have seriously harmful effects on our bodies and the environment.

A study was done on pigs at a factory farm. The pigs were being raised for meat and their feed was made of GMO corn and soy. The pigs suffered daily from diarrhea and other stomach conditions such as ulcers and inflamed intestines were also common. This was a problem that had been ongoing. A farmer decided to switch the feed to non GMO and almost instantaneously the pigs had NO diarrhea! I don’t have the study cited nor do I know the exact facts. I don’t know the truth about GMOs and what is scary is that it seems that all the research out there is mixed and uncertain. 

I eat 99.99% organic so I didn’t think too much about GMOs before I heard about this study. However, I do eat a fair amount of soy, and soy and corn are the most highly genetically modified foods. When I buy tempeh and tofu I always buy organic, but what about when I go out to eat? In Thai and Japanese restaurants, what quality ingredients are they using? Personally I have decided to opt out of ordering soy when I eat out, at least most of the time.

For a school assignment I was told to blog about GMOs and why they are dangerous for us. I’ve done research and the research is so mixed, but this is what we know.

GMO crops are engineered to be herbicide tolerant, meaning the chemicals used to kill the weeds do not kill the crop. The crops still absorb the chemicals they are engineered to be immune to them (we are not). Monsanto is known for selling Roundup Ready crops, crops that are designed to survive multiple rounds of the Roundup herbicide.

Some problems with this - the obvious, that the toxic chemicals in these crops are now leached into our food. Start reading labels, if what you are eating is not labeled organic and contains soy or corn, it is most likely GMO. 

Due to overuse of GM herbicide, weeds are growing resistant to the chemicals resulting in even more and more toxic applications in order to kill them. This is not only terrible for the environment, but year over year crops contain higher residues of these chemicals. I read in many places that Roundup, for example, is linked with sterility, hormone disruption, birth defects, and cancer.

Another issue with GMOs is the lack of government oversight. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require a single safety study, doesn’t require GMO food labeling, and allows new GMO products to be placed on the market freely with no approval needed. The FDA says there is no proof that GMOs are harmful. Michael Taylor was the government agency official who was in charge of the policy that instructed the FDA to promote biotechnology (the benefits of GMO). Michael Taylor was also Monsanto’s former attorney who is now the US Food Safety Czar.

Something else that freaks me out about GMO crops is that like all plants, their seeds spread and can cross contaminate indefinitely. Basically, these GMO crops are now showing up all over the country in areas that they were not intended. Farmers who are trying to grow healthy, organic, pure crops are struggling with contamination as well. Once we do start realizing how harmful these organisms are, it’s likely that there won’t be much we can do about it. 

We can start by avoiding GM brands. If the public starts demanding mandatory food labeling of GMOs and refusing to support the products then the food companies will be forced to stop using them. There are so many yummy, whole, organic, non modified foods! Start by reading the ingredients on your items (or buy items that are whole and don’t have an ingredients list!). Educate yourself! Look up your nearest farmers markets, co ops, and other sustainable companies to support!