Hello, Nicobella community and happy October! We're excited about October for two reasons: the crisp fall temperatures and it's time to celebrate Non-GMO month!
You may have heard through the news or your local grocery store about the great genetically modified foods (GMO) debate, but you may not know all of the hidden details about it.
Read below to see what you should know.
What is GMO?
You may have heard the term GMO tossed around a lot, but what does that actually mean? I’m glad you asked! GMO stand for Genetically Modified Organisms. These organisms have been modified so their genetic material has been artificially manipulated through genetic engineering in a laboratory. This modification allows individual genes to be transferred from one organism to another and even between nonrelated species and creates combinations that does not occur naturally through mating and or/or natural recombination. However, there is no substantial evidence that any of the GMOs on the market are able to offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefits.
There are a variety of ways that GMO foods are created:
- Using viruses or bacteria to “infect” animal or plant cells with new DNA
- Coating DNA onto tiny metal pellets and firing it into cells
- Injecting new DNA into fertilized eggs
- Forcing new DNA into sperm after using electric shocks to create holes in the membrane that coats the sperm
GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and or/to produce insecticide naturally. The theory behind this engineering is that it will increase the level of crop protection through the introduction of resistant against plant disease caused by insects or viruses or through increased tolerance through herbicides. Increased crop protection means that the number of crops available for the population will also increase, right? Yes, but at what expense?
While the production of GMOs is thought to be beneficial, there are some potential unintended side effects that we could be dealing with. These side effects include creating toxins inside the food, the food reacting to the weather differently, or the food containing too much or too little nutrition. These side effects could be dangerous and produce potential toxins, allergens, carcinogens, new diseases, and nutritional problems for the general public.
GMO foods claim to be safe, but there’s no way of knowing that for sure because it could take years or even decades before we fully understand the full effect of these foods. In fact, after GM soy was introduced to the United Kingdom, soy allergies shot up by 50%. In March of 2001, the Center of Disease Control Reported that food is responsible for twice the number of illnesses in the U.S. compared to estimates seven years earlier. More research is needed on GMO foods to understand the effect it has on our bodies.
Non GMO Project
GMO foods are used throughout the world and are required to be labeled in 64 countries; however, the United States and Canada do not require such labels. Therefore, there is no way for the consumer to know what it is they are actually eating. That’s where the Non GMO Project steps in. The Non GMO Project is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to building a Non GMO food supply. This projects also pushes for government agencies, such as the FDA and USDA, to label those foods that are modified and those that are not.
Written by Corrine Rose Jacobs, Georgia State Dietetic Intern
Corinne Jacobs is a recent graduate of Troy University in Troy, Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science. She is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Health Science and working on the Coordinated Program in Nutrition in order to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Georgia State University. She believes that health is multi-faceted and should be approached from many different angles in order for an individual to be the best version of themselves. She hopes to use her Exercise Science background with her Master's degree in order to work with patients with chronic illnesses such as Heart Disease and Type II Diabetes.