What’s a GMO and why should I care?
To be honest, I was all set to post for you guys a quick treatise on one of my favorite foods – avocados. Talking about not only how delicious they are to eat, but that they are also delicious for you. But after Tuesday’s articles I felt compelled to push avocados aside and write a whole new post (despite the mountain of other work looming over my head) focusing instead on “GMOs”. Avocado’s can wait. This topic can’t. Or so I believe.
In simplest terms a genetically modified organism, GMO, is an organism whose genetic characteristics have been altered using genetic engineering techniques.
For years, those opposed to GMOs have argued that when genetically altering the biology of plants we wreak havoc with not only mother nature but human health, too. Big companies, such as Monsanto, have bared the brunt of these accusations, accused primarily of putting profits before people.
Proponents like Monsanto, on the other hand, who fight for GMOs, give reason in that when crops are engineered it allows farmers to have more success in growing – success in a time when pests, weeds and extreme weather are argued to affect the demand and inhibit the supply. On top of which, without GMOs, the cost of our food could be driven way up.
It’s a complicated issue. Whether or not GMOs are safe for human consumption is an ongoing debate. What shouldn’t be complicated, as Bittman argues, is telling us, the consumers, if a product we purchase is in fact genetically modified.
As it stands now, due to lack of labeling laws (which is what the California Prop 37 campaign is about) we Americans are left in the dark on whether or not what we dish up for dinner is genetically modified.
SO MUCH of the food purchased and consumed today is genetically modified. Currently, more than 80% of many crops are grown using genetic engineering in America. It starts with the crops, which are then purchased to sell not just as is, but also used to produce the plethora of packaged foods that line our grocery store shelves. And, on top of our food being altered, the use of GMOs is harming our precious earth. As Gary Hirshberg, Chairman of Stoneyfield Farms, wrote in his response to Bittman “approval and use of genetically engineered crops has led to an explosive increased use of hundreds of millions of pounds of chemical herbicides and a devastating, costly and dangerous emergence of herbicide-tolerant super weeds on millions of acres of American farmland.” Terrible.
Not interested in eating GMO foods. You can definitely feel good about picking up products produced by the following companies:
- Stoneyfield Farms
- Arrowhead Mills
- Eden Foods
- Spectrum Oils
- Bob’s Red Mill
- Cascadian Farms
- Earths Best
- Amy’s Kitchen
- Natures Path
- Annies Naturals
- Barbara’s Bakery
- Lundenberg Family Farms
By no means is the above list a complete one. There’s a great non-profit known as the “NON-GMO PROJECT” who are making it their mission to educate you and I on GMOs and help us navigate finding those GMO free products. Look for their logo, now marking many food products in our local stores.