When I browse through the aisles of my favorite health food store or grocery story, I am
always looking at the products that have the cleanest, shortest ingredient list and are GMO free. I’m sure we have all seen it, the little orange butterfly label on the packaging of our favorite energy bar verifying that the product we are about to consume is GMO free. But what does that really mean? What exactly is a GMO and why don’t I want it in my food?
In this post I am going to provide some insight on GMOs and why we should consider keeping them out of our bodies…
What is a GMO?
A GMO is an genetically modified organism that contains DNA from another source. This is done through the process of recombinant DNA and genetic engineering that create
potentially unstable combinations of DNA that do not regularly occur in nature. The foreign DNA that is extracted and then forced into another organism can come from viruses, bacteria and animals. The goal behind genetically modifying certain crops is to increase its resistance to external threats such as climate, weeds and pests. In order for a plant to become resistant towards pests and herbicides, it needs to produce its own pesticide ultimately making the plant toxic.
Where are they found?
GMOs are generally found in processed foods containing high risk GMO ingredients such as soy, corn, canola, and certain animal products. Animal products can become tricky and are something that you need to pay closer attention to because many animals are fed corn, which is one of the largest crops on the high GMO risk foods. Even if an animal is fed a GMO crop, it is not considered clean therefore can not receive the butterfly sticker. In order for an animal product to be GMO free, it should be grass fed.
What makes a product GMO free?
To ensure a product is GMO free, it must be certified by the non-GMO organization and have the orange butterfly logo on it indicating it is certified GMO free. Many products will claim they are GMO free but are not certified, meaning that they still potentially could contain GMOs, so make sure to still check the ingredient list. Products that contain high risk ingredients are generally not certified because those ingredients require extensive testing to ensure they are 100% non-GMO.
Why is it a good thing that something is GMO free?
So far there is no scientific evidence linking consumption of GMOs with negative effects in humans but there have been many animal studies displaying some pretty scary results.
Because GMO crops become toxic in order to resist pests and herbicides when they are fed
to animals, they have been seen to cause disease and fatalities. Other animal studies have shown kidney, liver and reproductive issues along with an increased risk of cancer in the test subjects. Currently, because there has been no direct links to issues with humans, the main reason for avoiding GMO’s is environmental, as they have an enormous impact on the farming industry.
In conclusion, there is no need to avoid GMO’s like the plague but it is important for us to be mindful of them and how much we are consuming. A lot of high risk GMO crops do not only present the effects of being a GMO but also are the talk of a lot of other health concerns. For example canola oil is not only genetically modified but is also a highly refined oil that when heated to certain temperatures becomes toxic. Nor does it contribute any significant nutritional benefits as olive oil or avocado oil do; the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to canola oil. My favorite type of oil to cook with is avocado oil because it is a certified non-GMO product with a low smoking point (won’t become toxic as fast) and has the benefits of the fats in a avocado! Besides the potential health risks, I try to avoid consuming GMO products because of the environmental impact and the idea that the food you are consuming isn’t necessarily a whole food from mother nature anymore. So, just be conscious and keep this information in mind the next time you are on a grocery run!