Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What is a GMO?

Every time I shop, I see signs, for "All Natural", "Organic", "Free Range", "Grass-Fed", "No GMO's"... all of these terms sounding important! Are they what I want? They sound healthy - but are they? Shopping was becoming more and more overwhelming - how was I going to decipher it all? I could blog for days on what I've learned, and I have alot left to learn. It seems like everyone had a different interpretation for the same thing. I have read quite a bit on these terms, but for today, I want to start with one that I find a bit disturbing. GMOs... What is a GMO?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. The EPA defines it as: "A term that refers to plants that have had genes implanted to improve their performance by making them resistant to certain pesticides, diseases, or insects." I found that here:

It is a product of genetic engineering, and allows for the introduction of specific genes into an organism in the hopes of it developing special strengths. But do I want that?

An example of a GMO includes, Roundup Ready seeds. Roundup Ready seeds have been engineered to survive pesticides - heard of Roundup? "Normal" seeds can only take so much toxic weed killer, before they too dies. Round up seeds (GMOs) can survive these pesticides, even though all the other plants around it die. And where do all those pesticides go next? Answer: Into our food... which goes into us.... Hmmmm, not exactly what I want to be eating.

I heard a farmer once say that some GMO corn plants could withstand the pesticides, even though the weeds and worms were being destroyed! And the GMO plants actually thrive under these toxic applications. Is that really what you want to eat? I know I don't.

Now for some more bad news. There are currently no laws in the US requiring companies to label if their foods contain GMOs. What makes that such a sad, horrifying statement, is that most of the corn, soy, wheat and rice sold in this country (as well as in the processed foods made with these ingredients) is genetically modified - and none of it has to be labeled!

Q: So how do you avoid buying GMOs?
A: You have to buy organic foods.

One last thing to ponder... the company that makes Roundup herbicide, also makes the Roundup seeds - coincidence?

There ARE some things you can do..
1). Write to your congressman... ask for GMO foods to be labeled.
2). Buy organic and avoid the GMO all together!
2). Continue to Educate yourself... there is a lot to learn about GMOs and the food we eat. The book - The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan is eye-opening. It describes the corn industry in this country - simply amazing. And it goes into much more about our food chain.
3). Learn what you can about Monsanto, the company making these toxic chemicals and seeds that can withstand those chemicals. Learn what they have done to the farmers who use and don't use their seeds....

I will write more in future blogs about other labels and the confusion they are causing. I just wanted to start off the label discussion with something I am passionate about. After all, it really does matter...

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