The term GMO has been floating around the airwaves for quite sometime now, but will we ever fully understand what they really are or how much concern we should have over them?
For years I’ve enjoyed marketing at our local organic Farmer’s Markets, mostly because it’s a great resource for the best tasting, vine ripened produce ever. In addition to all the delicious foods you’ll find at local Farmer’s Markets, it’s also a great way to spend a leisurely morning roaming the food stands, chatting it up with the vendors and getting inspired for ideas on what to cook for your family.
Lately I’ve grown to even more appreciate the organic aspects that Farmer’s Markets offer us, as the debates about GMO’s continue to grow and swirl around us. So far I have not found any real solid data that can absolutely and conclusively prove that there are long term adverse effects on humans due to genetically modified foods, but there is enough controversy to cause me to seek more education and learn to recognize which foods are GMO’s, so that I can make conscious choices in the foods I choose to purchase for my family.
California’s Proposition 37 mandatory labeling initiative for GMO’s was a frontrunner regarding this topic in the November 2012 elections, even though it was narrowly defeated. However, since that time, there has been a groundswell of Americans in many other States nationwide, who are now leaning again towards favoring the requirement of labeling GM foods in America.
European countries have long taken a more precautionary approach to GMO’s and many European nations have already been labeling GM foods for years. Their attitude’s regarding labeling GMO’s, are similar to how the American FDA oversees the licensing and introduction of new medical treatments and drugs in the United States.
So if you’re as confused as I am on the subject of GMO’s, here’s some brief background information that might help you to understand more about why all these debates are taking place.
What Are GMO’s?
If you aren’t already aware, the term GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism” and in agriculture it refers specifically to foods that have been genetically engineered with traits that will help make them more tolerant to crop virus damage, some herbicides and will also help make them resistant to a soil-dwelling bacterium know as Bt toxin.
When did GMO’s first appear?
GMO’s were first introduced less than 20 years ago with the theory that they would produce bigger crops, help reduce plant diseases and lower food prices overall in an supposed attempt to ease world hunger.
What’s all the Fuss About GMO’s?
The FDA and powerful companies like Monsanto have made claims to Americans that GM foods are completely safe for humans. However, some doctors and other scientists have done studies that indicate there may be a link between GM foods contributing to damaging your health and a rise in cancers and gastroesophageal reflux diseases such as acid reflux and inflammatory bowel diseases. As a result of the rise in these diseases, some doctors have even prescribed patients non-GMO diets and claim they have seen positive results in reducing some of the symptoms of these diseases by eating organic only and non-GM foods.
How Can I Educate Myself more on GMO’s?
As with everything in life, it seems the best approach to learning more about GMO’s is to seek a balance in obtaining a broad spectrum of the information about GMO’s that is available online and in various health literature publications & books. You can read more about both sides of the argument by visiting websites like the FDA & Monsanto and then counterbalancing those resources with video’s like Genetic Roulette and David vs. Monsanto and other books and literature to see what conclusions to draw for yourself. Obviously, the key element is to seek the most balanced pooling of educational GMO informational resources and then draw your own conclusions.
How Can I Recognize GMO Foods?
Until GMO food is required to be labeled in the United States, it can make it difficult for us to easily identify which foods are GM versus which are not. The labeling of Certified Organic foods does help to set them apart from GMO’s and many local Farmer’s Markets are designated as Organic Only Farmer’s Markets. This kind of certified labeling makes it easy to assess that these foods are certfied to not be genetically modified.
Images: nongmoproject.org & cooperativegrocer.coop
In the absence of having a mandatory labeling program in the United States, a non-profit organization called the Non-GMO Project was started by a group of retailers who believes that no matter what the outcome is over the controversy of GMO’s, Americans should at least have access to clearly labeled Non-GMO foods and products, to at least help them know more about what foods they are buying.
In the meantime, until we have more conclusive & absolute evidence regarding what the effects of GMO’s are on our health, it would seem reasonable to take the time to read up more on this topic yourself. Education is always the key to better understanding and it will help you draw your own conclusions about GMO’s and help increase your awareness of them, so that you’ll know more about what types of foods you are purchasing for your family and be better able to recognize them.