I’m sure you have all seen in the supermarket or in advertisements, “This product is non-GMO!” However, what exactly does that mean? GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are found in most foods whose genetic material has been altered in a laboratory by genetic engineering. GMOs are relatively unsafe, but in America, they can be found in many of our food choices because it is not required by the government for stores to label their items containing GMOs. GMOs are used in a variety of different ways including pharmaceutical drugs, scientific research and agriculture.
The purpose of GMOs in agriculture is to produce crops that are resistant to pests and herbicides. Some are even able to thrive in harsh environmental conditions, which increases the productivity, yield and growth of these crops. Ultimately, GMOs provide no health benefits, can cause environmental damage and even in some cases are a violation of farmers’ rights.
GMOs are very common and are found in 80 percent of processed foods in the U.S. according to the Non-GMO Project. Unfortunately, products containing GMOs are usually not labeled so people do not realize the harmful specimens they are consuming each and every day. GMOs have been linked to a massive increase in herbicide use, an additional 527 million pounds between 1996 and 2011, according to Fox News. These specimens can cause harm to your organs and lead to a risk of gastrointestinal and immune disorders, according to the Institute for Responsible Technology.
Now that you have learned what GMOs are and their harmful effects, how can you modify your diet? This answer starts at avoiding processed foods since products containing GMOs are often not labeled. Whole Foods, for example, is a supermarket chain that labels all of its items with whether or not they contain GMOs, even though it is not required by the government. Their website contains facts and tips about GMOs and their products, making it easier for shoppers to find healthier options. When shopping for non-GMO products, some helpful tips are that if it is labeled organic then it does not contain GMOs. Also, look for labels on meat to see if suppliers are using non-GMO feed for their animals. Finally, most produce does not contain GMOs according to Whole Foods’ website.
Most of the time it is hard to monitor what you are eating, but by learning about what is out there, you can help yourself to make better choices.