Welcome to class! October is non-GMO month and we want to review some information about Genetically Modified Organisms. Grab your pencils and notebooks because class begins now.
According to The Non-GMO Project, GMOs are “plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology”, also known as genetic engineering. DNA from different species is merged through this experimental technology, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or traditional crossbreeding. GMO’s have been either banned or significantly restricted in 30 countries including Japan, Australia and the European Union.
1. You May Have Been Eating GMOs For The Last 20 Years
You may be surprised to know that Genetically Modified Foods have been in the United States food supply for about 20 years. According to the FDA website, “the first food product from a Genetically Engineered microbe was an enzyme preparation used in the production of many cheeses.” Although the FDA has deemed GMO foods as safe, we simply don’t know what the lasting health effects are. There are several health problems that are speculated to be linked to GMOs and rising public opinion that we should, at a minimum be told if foods contain GMOs.
2. You May Be Wearing GMO’s
- Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
- Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
- Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
- Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
- Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)
Photo Credit: Michael Dorausch
3. You May Have Eaten GMOs Yesterday
“Most GE crops are used as sources of food ingredients and as sources of animal feed,” says Dennis Keefe, Ph.D., director of FDA’s Office of Food Additive Safety. According to the FDA website “corn, soybean and cotton plants—genetically engineered to ward off pests or to tolerate herbicides—are used extensively to produce food ingredients such as corn starch (in soups and sauces), corn syrup (as a sweetener) and cottonseed and soybean oil (in mayonnaise, salad dressings, cereals, breads and snack foods). There are also new varieties of several other foods, such as squash and papayas”.
So, aside from animals being fed GMOs some of the most common ingredients in our food supply including corn starch, corn syrup and soybean oil are genetically engineered. If you’ve had mayonnaise, salad dressing or bread at a restaurant or at home recently it may have contained GMOs. Not to mention GMO squash and papyas.
Now that we have an overview of what GMOs are and what they look like, take a look at the labels on the food in your pantry or fridge. You quite possibly are eating GMOs and may not have realized it!