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What are these GMOs people keep talking about and why should I care?

04.15.16 Injecting GMO (tinypng)

Frankenfoods, GMOs, Roundup ready crops… you may have heard these phrases thrown around a lot lately, with varying opinions on whether they’re good or bad. Confusing to be sure!

Simply put, genetic modification means that the DNA of an animal or plant is changed. It’s been done for years by gardeners and plant people who’ve spliced together different types of plants to make a new variety. That’s why, when you go to the garden center for tomato plants, for example, there are so many varieties. They’re tomato plants that have been hybridized over years to have more or less of some characteristic. Two of the same species are combined. Like two humans having a baby, or two dogs producing puppies.

On the other hand, there’s a newer way of modifying DNA that companies are practicing, and it’s what’s all over the news now. These are the ones that are being labeled as GMO. In this case, plants and even some animals are being altered with some substance that’s not a part of their species at all. Roundup Ready seeds contain herbicides that make the plants resistant to Roundup weed killer, so that when crops are sprayed with it, the plants live and the weeds die. In February 2016, the US FDA approved a genetically modified salmon – it’s a hybrid of 3 types of fish, and the change to its DNA will allow it to grow year round (rather than just in spring and summer), grow to full size in half the time, and live a longer life. You may think that’s a good idea or you may be a bit freaked out by it. Either way, we don’t know what the long term effects will be on the humans who eat it.

A lot of the discussion has been about whether these genetically modified products should be labeled. All of Europe has required labeling since 1997. Sixty-four countries around the world require it. In the US, it’s a voluntary thing. They can tell us or not. Some companies do label, and anything that’s organic has to be GMO-free in order to carry the organic label. But that’s the only way we can tell. And those fish, for example, are not going to be labeled, so we won’t know what we’re getting. Unless we buy them from Costco, Safeway or Target – those 3 companies have said they won’t carry them.

Now, I’m not saying that companies can’t sell the products, but I do think that we as consumers have the right to know what we’re buying. There’s just not enough science out there for us to know whether or not these foods are safe.

It’s a huge issue. There have been some documentaries done about it – one is called GMO OMG, another is called Seeds of Deception.

If you want to know which food products contain GMO ingredients, you can visit http://www.nongmoproject.org/ They have a comprehensive list, and an app you can download to your phone so you can look things up in the store.

And if you want to know more about those fish, check out this article. It really describes the full effect of the issue.  http://thewholejourney.com/the-truth-about-salmon

Leave your comments below, and let me know what you think.

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