GMOs the basics!

I bet you've seen or heard the acronym GMO bantered about the media recently.   But, what does it really mean and why you should even care?   Here's the "Cliff Note" version:

 The facts:

What is a GMO?  =   The World Health Organization defines genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. The process allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, including between non-related species.

Why GMO?  = Crops are currently modified to improve their yield through the introduction of genes that allow the plant to become resistant to plant diseases or tolerant of herbicides (Round Up).

Where GMO?  It is estimated that as much as 90% of commodity crops used in the U.S.’s food supply are genetically modified.   The top two most genetically modified crops in the United States are corn and soy.


The process of genetic modification sounds harmless enough- right? And  in theory may even  sound like a good idea. But that isn’t the full story, as much as big  Agro businesses would like you to think it is. There are many reasons why we should be extremely wary of consuming any food that has been genetically altered. Here are just a couple:

  1. GMOs are unhealthy: Since the introduction of GMOs in the mid-1990s, the incidence of reported food allergies has sky-rocketed, and health issues such as autism, digestive problems and reproductive disorders are on the rise. Animal testing with GMOs has resulted in cases of organ failure, digestive disorders, infertility and accelerated aging.  Here's a link to many more research studies

  2. GMOs increase herbicide use: When Monsanto came up with the idea for Round-up Ready crops, the theory was to make the crops resistant to the pesticide, which would normally kill them. This meant the farmers could spray the crops, killing the surrounding weeds and pests without doing any harm to the crops themselves. However, after a number of years of use, many weeds and pests have themselves become resistant to the spray, resulting in a need to use more herbicides (both in amount and strength).   Translation – lots more pesticide residue in our foods – appetizing isn't it!

So how you can avoid eating GMO's or feeding them to your family? 

Buying 100% Organic, Certified Organic, and USDA Organic-labeled products is usually the easiest  and perhaps the best way to avoid genetically modified ingredients.  The United States and Canadian governments do NOT allow companies to label products “100% / Certified Organic” if they contain genetically modified organisms(GMOs).

But, there is a loophole in the USDA certification process.   The USDA has a list of non organic ingredients that are allowed in organic food, citing the fact that there are not readily available, commercially manufactured organic options for that particular product or ingredient.  Examples of ingredients which are on that  loophole list are soy lecithin and cornstarch.     

GMO Labeling

Although a 2010 Thomson Reuters PULSE™ Healthcare Survey, found that 93% of Americans believe that genetically engineered foods should be labeled,  currently only three states,   Connecticut, Maine and Vermont (2016), mandate the labeling of GMO food products.  In response to the consumers interest in labeling their food, US retailers created the The Non GMO Project.  The Non-GMO Project, a verification program,  works with stores across the country on product policies, shelf labeling and other consumer education programs.  The Non GMO Project verification seal means that the product bearing the seal has gone through a their verification process. That verification is an assurance that a product has been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO avoidance.  And its certification, along with the USDA 100% organic certification, may be your best options to avoid almost all GMOs!

 This blog just begins to scratch the surface of a very complicated issue,  I hope that I've given you the information that will launch you on your own exploration of  where your food comes from, how its grown and why those things really matter to your life and well being.   They really do matter!!