With all the serious attention being paid to America’s food supply, many of us have become concerned, if not skeptical, about where and how your foods are grown, made and processed.
Because of this, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have attracted interests all over the world, including agriculture and medicine, and much of it centers on the labeling of products to better inform and protect the health of consumers.
The Center for Food Safety reports 50 countries have some kind of labeling in place, ranging from outright bans of all GMO products to vague mandatory labeling of some products.
Although America has no GMO laws in place nationwide, lawmakers in Maine and Connecticut have passed legislation requiring such labeling and at least 20 additional state legislatures are considering it.
Here are the answers to five basic GMO questions you need to know.
1. What are GMO foods?
According to the Non-GMO Project, genetically modified organisms are animals or plants created via the gene-splitting techniques of biotechnology.
Crops considered by the organization to be in the high-risk category—those in which the vast majority is derived from biotechnology—include corn (88 percent of U.S. crops), canola (90 percent), cotton (90 percent), soy (94 percent) and sugar beets (95 percent).
2. Why do GMO-derived ingredients matter?
This subject generates the most debate among scientists and the public. Those who support GMOs argue costs of labeling foods could be prohibitive and see no significant differences between crops grown conventionally or via genetic modification.
Conversely, the subject of GMOs has provoked a growing curiosity among consumers about where their foods come from—farms or laboratories—and why they aren’t clearly identified via labeling.
Not to mention, many very common additives used in processed foods are derived from GMO crops. Among them:
- Vitamin C
- Citric Acid
- Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
3. What are some of the negative effects of GMOs?
GMOs were created, in part, to avoid saturating crops with herbicides and insecticides. However, a 2012 Washington State University study estimated a jump in herbicide use (more than 500 million pounds) offset by a fractional, temporary drop in insecticide use during the 16-year span GMO crops have been planted in America.
The rampant use of herbicides presents all sorts of complications for human health, expanding risks to several diseases, from infant leukemia to allergic reactions to some cancers. Those risks don’t include the harm extra pesticides floating around the atmosphere do to the honey bee population that might trigger an agricultural crisis one day, according to health experts.
4. How can I avoid GMO products?
Avoiding GMO products will require some effort on your end, since they are now so pervasive. Fortunately, the most important things you can do to avoid GMO products are among the simplest:
- Seek out organic whole foods as often as you can.
- Read the food labels of every processed food product before purchasing them to identify any chemicals in your foods. A simple rule of thumb: If you can’t pronounce a chemical or additive, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.
- Look for foods that have the Non-GMO Project seal, North America’s only third-party standard for avoiding GMO foods.
5. Are probiotics GMO-free?
For the most part, no. Although the microorganisms contained in probiotics are genetically modified, the substrates (a surface or material upon which these microorganisms live) in the probiotic are largely made of corn. Changing substrates can create research and development problems related to product quality.
The good news: If you’ve been looking for a completely safe and healthy probiotic, both EndoMune Advanced and EndoMune Junior are completely GMO-free. In addition, EndoMune products contain no dairy products, preservatives, artificial coloring, sugar or gluten, and the Junior version has been certified with the parent tested parent approved (PTPA) seal of approval.