What are GMO's?
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic. This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM).
The most common GMO in food is when herbicide tolerance has been added to a food’s genes causing the plant to produce its own pesticide. This allows the farmer to spray weed killer directly on the crop without killing it.
93% of soy crops, 93% of cotton, 90% of canola, 86% of corn, about 95% of sugar beets, more than 50% of Hawaiian papaya, and some zucchini, yellow squash, and alfalfa are currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S.
Here are 10 reasons why you would want to avoid GMO’s. More information about each of these reasons is found at the Institute for Responsible Technology.
GMOs are Unhealthy - The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients. Numerous health problems increased after GMOs were introduced in 1996. The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise.
GMOs Contaminate―Forever - GMOs cross pollinate and their seeds can travel. It is impossible to fully clean up our contaminated gene pool. GMO contamination has also caused economic losses for organic and non-GMO farmers who often struggle to keep their crops pure.
GMOs Increase Herbicide Use - Between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMOs. Overuse of herbicide results in “superweeds,” resistant to the herbicide. This is causing farmers to use even more toxic herbicides every year. Not only does this create environmental harm, GM foods contain higher residues of toxic herbicides.
Dangerous Side Effects - By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes a host of unpredictable side effects. Moreover, irrespective of the type of genes that are inserted, the very process of creating a GM plant can result in massive collateral damage that produces new toxins, allergens, carcinogens, and nutritional deficiencies.
Government Oversight is Dangerously Lax - Most of the health and environmental risks of GMOs are ignored by governments’ superficial regulations and safety assessments. The reason for this tragedy is largely political.
Tobacco Science - The biotech industry uses “tobacco science” to claim product safety. Biotech companies like Monsanto told us that Agent Orange, PCBs, and DDT were safe. They are now using the same type of superficial, rigged research to try and convince us that GMOs are safe.
Suppressed Research - Independent research and reporting is attacked and suppressed. Scientists who discover problems with GMOs have been attacked, gagged, fired, threatened, and denied funding.
Harmful to the Environment - GMO crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms. They reduce bio-diversity, pollute water resources, and are unsustainable.
Counteractive - GMOs do not increase yields, and work against feeding a hungry world. Whereas sustainable non-GMO agricultural methods used in developing countries have conclusively resulted in yield increases of 79% and higher, GMOs do not, on average, increase yields at all. This was evident in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ 2009 report Failure to Yield―the definitive study to date on GM crops and yield.
Force Change - By avoiding GMOs, you contribute to the coming tipping point of consumer rejection, forcing them out of our food supply.
Because GMOs give no consumer benefits, if even a small percentage of us start rejecting brands that contain them, GM ingredients will become a marketing liability. Food companies will kick them out. The key is to educate consumers about the documented health dangers.
Jeffrey Smith is the founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology and is the author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette. His organization has developed a Non-GMO Shopping Guide to make avoiding GMOs much easier.
Photo by: kendoman26 via Flickr.com