These days, it seems like everyone has something to say about GMOs.
On one side we have corporations claiming that GMOs are safe and no different from other foods. On the other side, there are non-profit and public policy organizations that are dedicated to shining light on the truth—that GMOs are far from safe and substantially different from traditional or cross pollinated food.
With so much conflicting information, who do you believe? Are GMOs safe? Well, here are five things we DO know.
1. GMO foods have never been adequately tested.
One of the main causes of confusion is that since their introduction into the food system in 1994 the FDA has never required any company or organization to test GMOs for potential health risks.
Let’s think about that—As much as 90% of all corn, soybean, sugar beets and canola in the US is genetically modified. 90% of our most consumed commodities have never been rigorously tested for safety.
How can that be?
From the beginning, the FDA awarded GMOs the status of “substantial equivalency”, a designation that means they are not different enough from the traditional crops to warrant safety reviews. But GMO foods have been altered to contain one or more foreign genes—and viruses and bacteria—that were not in there before. Just because they may look substantially similar to their traditional counterparts, does not mean that they are. They are now fundamentally different in their genetic material.
So, it seems that the FDA has again fallen down on the job of making sure our food system is safe. There have been several independent animal studies on the issue that have disturbing findings – like spontaneous miscarriage, infertility and tumors in livestock. And farm workers exposed to Bt toxins in GMOs are far more likely to suffer from allergies than the rest of the population. In addition, GMO seeds increase the use of pesticides, and GMO foods have been found to be lower in nutritional value than their natural counterparts.
See GMO health risks
2. There is no required labeling of GMO foods.
64 countries—including all 28 nations in the EU—require labeling of food containing GMOs so that consumers can decide for themselves if they want to gamble on GMOs. However, in the US where 90% of corn, canola, sugar and soy is GMO, Monsanto and other biotech companies have lobbied hard and spent a lot of money to prevent labeling laws in the US. So far they’ve been successful.
In fact, these biotech companies have even put forth their own ANTI-Labeling law that would prevent states from enacting labeling laws at the local level. Sadly, this law has gotten considerable traction in Washington due to the money behind it, and it looks like it will pass soon.
3. GMOs are banned in other countries.
Not only do other countries have labeling laws, but 26 nations have BANNED GMOs outright due to health and environmental concerns.
4. GMOs create superbugs and superweeds.
GMO seeds that have been genetically altered to resist pesticides and herbicides (like Monsanto’s Round-Up, for instance) have created superbugs and superweeds. It’s the age-old premise of “Survival of the Fittest.” Once you start killing the lesser weeds and bugs, only the strong survive, and they live on to breed stronger so it’s harder to kill them. And any time you have to use stronger chemicals, you will see those leak into the groundwater and contaminate the environment, which is unsafe and unhealthy for everyone.
5. GMOs threaten biodiversity.
GMOs threaten biodiversity in two significant ways:
- They are owned and patented by large biotech corporations who could someday control our entire food system. Farmers are required to pay licensing fees and buy their seeds from Monsanto or Syngenta every year. They cannot save seed, and many heirloom seeds are being lost due to the homogenization of the seed crops. Biodiversity is extremely important; it protects us against changing environmental realities.
- GMO crops regularly contaminate organic crops, and soon there may be no such thing as a non-GMO seed. Not to mention that Bt Toxins have killed entire populations of Monarch Butterflies.
Again, GMOs have never had to go through any rigorous trials—they were just released into the food system 20 years ago. With so much uncertainty, I think it’s better to avoid GMOs then take the chance. Don’t you want to know what you’re eating? I sure do.
What can you do?
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