Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)
What have you hear heard about genetically modified organisms (GMO)? GMO, also referred to as genetically engineered organisms (GEO) or just straight up genetically engineered, are organisms whose genetic makeup was altered by genetic engineering techniques. Basically, DNA from different sources is combined into one set to create a new set of genes. This is called recombinant DNA technology. That's about as technical as we get on this topic.
There are a host of products containing genetically modified organisms including vaccines, medicines, food, food ingredients, feeds and fibers. Scientists pluck out the most important or attractive traits about a certain organism, like ones that produce the best desired results, then they splice it with the “best” of another organism and voilà! New genetically modified organisms are at your fingertips. So why all the fuss about GMO?
Why Are We Messing with Nature?
Scientists create genetically modified organisms and such because they want to enhance foodstuffs to resist insects, survive harsh climates, and provide additional nutritional qualities not found in traditional organisms. For example, scientists have genetically engineered rice to have more iron and vitamins which could help alleviate malnutrition where rice is consumed. This seems like a great idea when you first think about it. But there are drawbacks...
Helpful or Hurtful?
Because genetically engineering technology is relatively new, it poses risk to the consumer since we only have a small time frame to measure the benefits and risks to its products.
Just take a look at the strawberry to the left. This is one of the experiments that produced the genetically modified organism you see here. Really, really unnatural looking.
At GreenHomeGreenBusiness.com we are big on research, research, and more research to figure out the long term benefits or risks to products people put in their bodies. It is important to remember that any time someone starts removing something that occurs naturally and replaces it with something synthetic or even worse—something unnatural, you might be asking for trouble.
The benefits to producing genetically modified organisms are certainly attractive--enhanced flavor, reduction in maturation time, improved resistance to insects and herbicides, new products, and increased nutrients. GMO may also facilitate more efficient processing of foods (depending on the product) and increase the accessibility of foods to underdeveloped nations.
Sounds good right?
The drawbacks and controversies to genetically modified organisms are substantial and worth knowing more about. Here are just a few:
- The long-range human health impact—does splicing and dicing DNA mess with our DNA at some point down the road? Does this mess with our children's DNA?
- Messing with Mother Nature. Removing something that occurs organically in nature and mixing it with something else that occurs organically in nature seems like an OK idea, but what happens when the bees get confused when they are trying to pollinate? What is the effect on other organisms out there when these new genetically modified organisms are cross-pollinated with them?
- Upsetting the natural balance. When farmers constantly splice and dice DNA in foods we eat every day, the natural balance is upset forevermore. Once GMO foods are grown, reproduced, and planted, the original seed or food source disappears. Since we don't have research illustrating the long-term effects it has on our health (good or bad), we think it best to not permanently upset Mother Nature's products.
We can't make any scientific statements about genetically modified organisms, but we can use common sense. If food producers continue to mess with organic DNA or the genetic makeup of foods, we may not ever be able to regain the original food source in the future. This is obviously bad, but what if these new GMO foods begin to mutate? What if our bodies reject the foods?
Our bodies are amazing and resilient, but after a while, will they be able to absorb the appropriate nutrients in GMO foods? Will your body have an allergic reaction to GMO foods?
These are all important questions for you and your family to examine. It is imperative that you get the right information so you can make the best choices for you and your health. Keep in mind that the U.S. Government does not require that foods containing GMO ingredients be labeled as such. We advise you not to rely on the government to screen and research every product on the market as it relates to your safety. Protect yourself and make informed decisions by getting pertinent information here. Also check out the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) website for more information.
Common GMO Foods and Stats
The most common foods that are genetically modified are soy, corn, canola, tomatoes, potatoes, peanuts, squash, and cotton. You probably are purchasing and consuming GMO foods every day. How so? The U.S. Government does not require GMO labeling, so unless the product says “Contains no GMO” or something to that effect, you're probably consuming some sort of GMO ingredient.
In 2000, the U.S. accounted for 68% of all commercial genetically engineered crops; Argentina for 23%; Canada for 7% and China for 1%. This is not comforting. About 75% of U.S. soybeans, 25% of corn and 72% of cotton were obtained via genetic engineering. Also not comforting.
Last time we checked, tons of common food products contain soy, corn, cottonseed or canola derivatives like lecithin, soy oil, soy proteins, corn syrup and cornstarch. So we should take notice when there are estimates out there that show more than 60% of all non-organic processed foods sold in U.S. supermarkets contain GMO ingredients. Yikes!
GMO's in a Nutshell (Pun!)
Basically, genetically modified ingredients and foodstuffs are to be avoided if you can help it. There are all kinds of weird things that can go wrong when scientists combine different DNA to make a new organism. The new food product can mutate or cause allergic reactions. Some of the products are even antibiotic resistant. Nutritional quality may be compromised over time as the original DNA is lost through genetic engineering.
It's All About Labels (or not)
U.S. law does not require food manufacturers to label products with GMO ingredients as such. The European Union has a much stricter stance on labeling food products and requires that all ingredients be traced back to their original source.
Look for products that say “No GMO” on the labels. Organic and non-organic products carry this distinction. But it's especially important to use non-GMO products that have an effect on your hormones like soy products.
Using non-GMO soy is super important because the isoflavones can promote hormonal balance. This is good for your hormones obviously, but it also provides your body amino acids that your body can't produce. Getting soy that is not genetically modified is of utmost importance when your important body systems are in jeopardy.
Soy is naturally low in fat, cholesterol free, and is packed with energizing nutrients to help maintain your blood sugar levels. It helps produce healthy skin, muscles, hormones and helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels too.
Please remember that those who've had breast cancer are encouraged NOT to consume soy products of any kind. There is mixed research out there showing harmful AND neutral links between any estrogen related cancer (breast, cervical, etc.) patients and soy products, but we recommend staying away, unless of course your doctor says otherwise.
Be sure to consult with your doctor when starting any new nutritional supplementation, including soy.
If You Want Safe Soy Beans/Protein/Products
Go to the source for safe, non-GMO, Identity Preserved Program (IPP), biologically complete soy protein. Make sure the soy products you use are IPP certified--meaning they are monitored from the minute they are planted until they are harvested and processed into the products you use and love everyday. IPP soy products ensure the ingredients are not genetically modified or exposed to other beans that have been genetically modified.
IPP soy protein helps maintain normal glycemic response and prevents sharp spikes and plummets in blood sugar level. Soy protein powder, which can be mixed in juice, smoothies, or water, provides 9 essential amino acids that your body needs, but can't produce. But beware! All soy protein powders are not created equal. Click here for soy protein that is IPP certified, non-GMO, and non-flavored that can be added to drinks, soups, or your favorite baked goods.
Click here for energizing creamy cocoa soy protein to add to your favorite beverages or here for vanilla soy protein.
Soy is also an excellent source of protein and can replace meat products in your diet. Again, there are a lot of imitators our there, but choose soy meal replacement bars and shakes that are made with IPP, non-GMO soy beans to ensure you are putting the safest, most effective soy in your body.
Soy is naturally cholesterol and lactose free, and provides a whopping 16 grams per serving! Studies suggest that 25 grams of soy protein per day can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Considering heart disease is the biggest killer in the U.S., consider working non-GMO soy protein into your diet.
Click here to learn more about non-GMO, non-flavored soy protein, here for vanilla soy protein, or here for cocoa soy protein.
At the End of the Day
Say no to GMO. It's as simple as that. At this point in time, there are too many unknowns surrounding the long-term risks of ingesting food products that contain genetically modified organisms on a regular basis. Steer clear of products made with genetically modified organisms and always consume non-GMO, IPP soy protein.
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