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Genetically Modified Organisms 101

Genetically Modified Organisms 101
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An organism that has been genetically modified has the genes from another organism inserted into it for a number of different purposes. Sometimes the genetic material being inserted is from a bacteria, virus, or yeast, but it could also come from another plant or animal. Inserting genes from one organism into another is a risky business that sometimes interferes with the original organism’s own gene expression. Genetically Modified Organisms, otherwise known as GMO’s, have been created for a number of different reasons, but as of late they have been used in industrial farming. As such, they have entered our food supply and therefore have the potential to directly affect the health of our population.

America Needs Unbiased GMO Research

To date, the majority of the research that has been done has been carried out by the companies that create genetically modified organisms, and it is therefore biased. Additionally, not enough research has been done to determine the exact long term health effects of GMO's. However, it is suspected that they are linked to certain cancers, certain stomach and inflammatory bowel diseases, autoimmune diseases and autism. That being said, there are over 60 developed countries that DO NOT consider GMO's fit for human consumption. This is a decision based on the lack of relevant non-biased research, and they have banned the sale of them in their country. These countries include, but are not limited to, Brazil, Italy, Austria, France, Norway, and Switzerland. Meanwhile, the United States does not even require the labeling of these potentially harmful organisms in their food, and the majority of our population is blindly consuming them at a rapid pace.

Chemicals Meant to Solve Food Production Problems May Cause Bigger Problems in the End

In general, crops are genetically modified to be able to withstand heavy pesticide, insecticide and herbicide application without dying. Many of the chemicals that are used in these products are active chemicals in Agent Orange. The residues of these chemicals are absorbed by the crops, and then they make their way in to our food system. The heavy use of such chemicals is a danger to both our health and the environment. Their use, especially glyphosate, in Monsanto’s Roundup, has been suspected in the rapid decline of our honey bee population and also in the emergence of so called super weeds, bugs, and pests that have had to evolve to withstand the chemical application. At this point it is safe to say that the more chemicals we apply, the stronger the pests and weeds will become. We may be headed down a slippery slope of stronger chemicals fighting stronger pests, and who knows how it will end? In addition to these chemicals making their way into our food supply, the runoff from them also makes its way into the water supply, causing further contamination.

GMO's Are Everywhere, Decide Whether you want them in your Diet

At this point in time, it is estimated that upwards of 80% of the conventionally grown produce and processed foods on our supermarket shelves contain genetically modified organisms. It is becoming increasingly hard to avoid them in mainstream grocery stores. However, looking for the USDA Organic symbol or the symbol for the non-GMO project are ways to ensure that what you are eating does not contain them. It is encouraged that everyone does their own research on the subject to make an informed decision regarding their consumption. As you do so, question where the research you are reading is coming from. If it is coming from the same people that are trying to sell you these organisms, take it with a grain of salt, asking yourself if they really have your best interests in mind.

Laura Holt, for Agrilicious!

More Information: Non GMO Project

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carmenstickley, Southgate MI
I agree with the labeling, as I believe we have a right to know what's in the food we buy and consume. But I would like to see some hard facts and less suspect. Where are the actual studies that supposedly link GMO's with cancers and diseases? Is there enough research? My father works with farmers and in order for them to make a living they are forced to use this stuff. The cheaper the food, the less they make per bushel and the more they have to produce. It's a catch 22 that affects everyone, on every level, not just the consumer. Be careful how anti-farmer you come across. They feed us.
1/30/2015 7:53:00 AM
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Did You Know?
80% of our food and fiber is produced by only 210,000 full-time US farmers.