What is GMO Food?
This is an important question in many people’s minds. It seems to have become a buzz word lately.
I’ll start with a bit of a story, recently I was in Costco with my husband on a Saturday when all the food tables were set up. One lady was shouting for customers to come try her products. She was saying “all natural, low fat, no GMO! etc etc…”. My husband didn’t know at the time what GMO was, so he asked her. “What’s a GMO?” She stared at him blankly and had no idea. She admitted she was just told to say that by the marketing company.
Is it safe?
There are many people who believe and say that food produced from GMO seeds is totally safe and we should not be concerned at all about them.
There are also many people, myself included, who believe that GMO’s are not safe in any way shape or form. There are numerous studies already done and more happening all the time that show serious consequences of all types from their use.
There are many unanswered questions about the use and the consequences of eating GMO foods, that’s a fact.
GMO stands for what??
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, sometimes known as Genetically Engineered Organism.
If you do any research at all, you’ll quickly see that there is much talk about how the GMO foods might be adversely affecting our health.
Many countries have already banned everything to do with GMO seeds, including its’ related farming methods and the food that is produced from it.
Some of the countries that have rejected GMO’s are Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria and Luxembourg, New Zealand, Madeira and Switzerland. They have all banned the sale, use and planting of GMO seeds.
Several more countries have partial or selective bans on GMO use. Please refer to this complete list of countries that have both rejected and embraced the use of GMO seeds.
The USA (most of it), Canada, Brazil and Argentina produce 90% of the GMO crops for use around the world. The USA has recently banned GMO labeling! (source)
Have you heard that GMO’s are safe? This is what you’ll hear if you’re listening to Monsanto or anyone behind them.
The difficult part is sifting through the mainstream information published about GMO’s. There is tons of it and too many people have a vested interest in making sure we stay confused! I’ve included a link below to a free report that should help clear things up though.
GMO’s are reported to be the answer to our food crisis while reducing pesticide use. This is not turning out to be true. There are studies clearly showing an increase in pesticide use in the first 16 years of planting GMO crops. This evaluation from Environmental Science Europe concluded that:
Herbicide-resistant crop technology has led to a 239 million kilogram (527 million pound) increase in herbicide use in the United States between 1996 and 2011, while Bt crops have reduced insecticide applications by 56 million kilograms (123 million pounds). Overall, pesticide use increased by an estimated 183 million kgs (404 million pounds), or about 7%.
This is due to the fact the the pests are becoming increasingly resistant to the “neonicotinoid” pesticides that they are coated with, so more and more of it has to be sprayed to keep up. These same pesticides are also decimating the beneficial insect populations. This allows the pests to thrive without natural predators.
While we’re on the subject of beneficial insects, take an important few minutes and watch this TED video. In 15 minutes, it clearly explains why the bees are disappearing and how that’s related to the planting and cultivation of GMO crops.
The people behind GMO’s will say there are no consequences to be concerned of. This information, mind you is coming directly from the companies that create and distribute GMO seeds and foods. They have a huge vested interest in the promotion of GMO’s so the information is going to be very biased at best.
GMO’s have not been proven safe at all as the proponents would have you believe. The cotton crops in India have been devastated since the introduction of GMO seeds as well. However, some say the problem is more complex than just GMO seed use on its own.
Always consider the source of the information you’re reading before you believe it. Even very popular and usually credible sources may be heavily skewed in one direction or another for unclear reasons.
Get Your Free Download
This is a 331 page report available for download from EarthOpenSource.org about the myths and truths surrounding GMO.
“GMO Myths and Truths offers a one-stop resource for the public, campaigners, policy-makers, and scientists opposing the GMO industry’s attempts to control our food supply and shut down scientific and public debate.”
The second edition of GMO Myths and Truths is co-authored by genetic engineers Dr. John Fagan and Dr. Michael Antoniou and researcher Claire Robinson.
Author Claire Robinson said:
“Claims for the safety and efficacy of GM crops are often based on dubious evidence or no evidence at all. The GMO industry is built on myths.
It was released on May 19, 2014 as a free online download by the sustainability and science policy platform at Earth Open Source.
Back in 2013, there was already nearly 300 scientists and legal experts that had signed a statement affirming that there was “No scientific consensus on GMO safety”. (Source)
How is a GMO produced?
Genetically modified organisms are animals or plants where parts of the DNA from one organism are introduced into and made a part of the DNA of another, this is done in a high tech laboratory. This causes proteins to form which then produces a specific desired result.
The purpose is to introduce a characteristic to the seed that doesn’t normally take place in nature. It can be introducing a pesticide to create a resistance to insects, an increased ability to grow in poor soil or it might add a gene or a virus that would create the ability for the plant to grow in extreme temperatures, both high and low or to acquire many other desirable characteristics.
So, in practice a seed would gain the ability to kill insects by itself…but still grow as food. This is how it can be registered as food as well as a pesticide at the same time.
Dr. Mercola states:
“You can’t cover a plant seed with poison and expect it to be free of unintended consequences.”
In my opinion, GMO seeds and the food produced from them is not healthy for us. There is just too much we don’t understand about the consequences on our bodies.
This extensive study titled “State-of-the-Science On the Health Risks of GMO Food” uncovered astonishing and alarming results. All scientific research is cited at the end of this 24 page study. Page 18 states:
“Since GM foods are not properly tested before they enter the market, consumers are the guinea pigs. But this doesn’t even qualify as an experiment. There are no controls and no monitoring. Given the mounting of evidence of harm, it is likely that GM foods are contributing to the deterioration of health in the United States, Canada, and other countries where it is consumed.”
This is another study that was published in 2011 that found that human cells are affected by the Bt toxin both on its own and in combination with Glyphosate. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup and its used extensively on GMO crops.
The World Health Organization has determined that our exposure to glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”. (Source: The Lancet Oncology study here.)
Glyphosate is the most commonly used pesticide used around the world, it’s found in more than 750 products.
What is a Hybrid Seed?
A hybrid seed is created through human intervention by the crossing of two dissimilar parent seeds with strong qualities to create a superior result in the offspring. Hybrids usually grow well with a good harvest. They are good for beginner gardeners because in a way,because all the guesswork has been bred out of them.
Hybrids are good to try out and learn the basics of seed growing. It’s important to know though, that the seeds produced by the resulting hybrid plant do not stay true to type. This means that the seeds from the plant will not grow the same way again, as the parent plant did. Therefore, they cannot be used for seed saving efforts.
Hybrid seeds need to be purchased every year whereas if you plant organic seeds, then you can save those resulting seeds and then grow the same plants again next year.
What is Open Pollinated Seed?
An open pollinated seed is one that is pollinated by insects, wind, birds and other naturally occurring methods.
These seeds are much more genetically diverse than the others. The seeds produced by the plants grown from open pollinated seeds are good to save for next years crops. They grow true and stay the same as the parent plant did.
Using open pollinated seed is sometimes more challenging because they are natural and more susceptible to some issues and diseases, but with the right care the garden will be just fine.
The healthiest option is to grow as much of your own food as you can with natural, organic, open pollinated, non-hybrid, non-GMO seeds and then choose carefully where you buy the rest of your food.
Try to buy organic vegetables and fruit as much as possible. Your body will thank you!
See below to buy non-GMO seed kits.
See this list for more PDF downloads of scientific studies done into the use of GMO seeds and their associated pesticides.