Genetically Modified Foods GMO’s
From cucumbers and carrots to dogs and daisies, humans have altered countless species to fit our needs. For millennia we’ve been engineering plants by keeping the seeds from the best crops and planting those the next season. Following this practice year after year has resulted in a slow but steady change. Intentional cross-pollination and hybridization have been useful tools since the earliest civilizations. Today, though, those processes are sometimes bypassed in favor of something riskier. Scientists can produce a change quickly by selecting a gene from one organism that may result in a desired trait and inserting it directly into the chromosome of another organism. Genes from organisms as dissimilar as bacteria and plants can be inserted into each other. This shortcut is known as genetic modification or genetic engineering.
Genetically Modified Organisms and Foods
- Genetically modified (GM) organisms have had their genetic material (DNA) altered in a way that does not, and very likely cannot, occur naturally. The technology is sometimes called “modern biotechnology”, “gene technology”, “recombinant DNA technology”, or “genetic engineering”. It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, also between non-related species.
- Most supermarket processed food items now test positive for the presence of genetically modified ingredients, and biotech companies and university laboratories are cooking up new ideas for GM foods all the time. According to the biotechnology industry, the majority of S. food and commercial fiber will be genetically engineered within the next 5 to 10 years.
Safety and Labeling
- Only 40% of people in the US know that some of the foods they are buying and eating are genetically modified, according to one survey. Additionally, nearly one out of four people incorrectly believes that such foods are not being sold in the United States at all.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that genetically engineered foods are in most cases “the same as or substantially similar to substances commonly found in food” and thus are not required to undergo specific safety tests prior to entering the market.
- The GM status of foods does not have to be disclosed in this country. The S. government claims that mandatory food labels are not necessary because genetically modified food “poses no inherent safety risk”. Unsurprisingly, products do not voluntarily disclose their GM origins, and consumers remain in the dark.
- The use of genetically modified food is a subject of enormous global controversy. Environmental and consumer groups have demanded that the FDA follow the lead of the European Union, Japan and other nations by requiring labels on GM foods. They argue that consumers should be allowed to know what they are really buying.
Avoiding GM Foods
- Because GM foods are so new, no one knows the extent of the risks associated with eating them. Virtually the entire population has potential exposure to genetically engineered foods, yet we have only a handful of studies addressing their safety.
- Many people are concerned that GM foods might cause unexpected allergic reactions and other health problems. There are many unknown factors that could be present in a new technology that manipulates DNA, and any number of these could turn out to be harmful. There’s also a potential for the modified genes of genetically engineered crops to “infect” similar non-modified and wild species, causing uncontrollable problems within ecosystems.
- If you really want to avoid the influence of genetic engineering, buy fresh organic produce. Organic certification prohibits genetic modification. If you want to buy processed foods while avoiding genetically engineered ingredients, you will have to read the product labels carefully.
- An organization called the NON-GMO Project scientifically tests all of the individual ingredients that make up a product using a third-party testing facility. Products that have been certified are labeled with a NON-GMO Project Verified label. Otherwise, about 70% of processed foods contain GM ingredients.
- In the S., anything containing the following foods most likely has genetically modified ingredients, unless you buy organic: soybeans, corn, canola, cottonseed, and papaya. Livestock is usually fed genetically modified feed, unless certified organic.
- 20 Questions On Genetically Modified (GM) Foods http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/biotech/20questions/en/
- Harvest of Fear http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/harvest/
- Genetically Engineered Foods http://www.healingdaily.com/detoxification-diet/genetically-engineered-foods.htm
- Food Safety: How to Avoid Genetically Engineered Food http://www.safe-food.org/-consumer/shop.html
- How Much of Your Pantry is Genetically Modified? http://planetgreen.discovery.com/food-health/pantry-genetically-modified.html
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