Although we don’t hear much about it in the news these days, the GMO debate is still a hot topic between farmers, scientists, and health conscious consumers. Some experts agree they’re an inexpensive and healthy way to put dinner on your table, but much debate still goes on whether genetically modified foods (or organisms) can damage our health. We’re beginning to learn as much as 80% of all packaged foods contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and much of the time we are probably eating genetically modified foods without even knowing it.
Wikipedia defines GMO as “a genetically modified organism (GMO) is a bacteria, yeast, insect, plant, fish, or mammal whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods and are also widely used in scientific research and to produce goods other than food.”
Modifying the genetic structure of food is not a new concept. Selective breeding of domesticated plants was once the main way early farmers shaped organisms to suit their needs. The first human manipulation of genes occurred during the domestication of plants and animals through artificial selection as far back as 12,000 BC.
For centuries, farmers and scientisists have been cross-breeding plants and animals to improve our food supply. By cross-breeding various types of plants or animals they are able to come up with new organisms that yield more, grow in harsh and difficult conditions, and even taste better. Thousands of different crops are now feeding billions of people.
For over a century the practice of cross breeding plants and animals has been limited to combining the traits of organisms only with the same species. Not so today. Due to advances in biotechnology, scientists can now genetically engineer different species so they share the same genetic material. This is where things get kind of weird.
Nowadays, scientists can genetically engineer different species so that they share the same genetic material. They do so by extracting DNA from one species and injecting it into another. These genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are commonly used in the food industry to create plants and seeds that are not only resistant to certain insects and pesticides, but can be grown in less than favorable conditions.
They can breed corn with a built-in pesticide that can kill bugs or survive chemical sprays, and they can move the gene from a fish that lives in cold water into a tomato so it can survive in cold weather. This new technology has the potential to revolutionize how food is produced – but at what cost?
Advancements in genetically engineering food are raising the alarms bells. Their intentions may be for the good to help feed an ever growing population, but the effects of these foods remain controversial. Much more research is needed on how GMO foods are effecting our health.
The simplest way to avoid GMOs is to buy organic. Buying 100% organic, certified organic, and USDA organic-labeled products is usually the easiest way to identify and avoid genetically modified ingredients. The United States and Canadian governments do not allow companies to label products “100%/certified organic” if they contain genetically modified foods.
But, buyer beware. Not all foods listed “organic” are GMO free.
In February 2013, the National Post reports “at an organic conference at the University of Guelph, Dag Falck, who operates the organic program with Nature’s Path, a North American breakfast cereal and snack-bar producer, said it was time the organic industry was more honest with its labelling. Pollen and seeds from genetically modified crops often make their way onto organic farms — and there’s no test for what the organic industry terms “cross contamination,” or trace amounts of GMOs.
“Due to unavoidable, worldwide cross-pollination, no crop that has a GMO variant, no matter how regulated by the government can be guaranteed to be 100% GMO free,” Mr. Falck wrote in an email.
Anyone who eats such common staples as beet sugar, canola and corn — and that means just about everybody — will be exposed.” Source: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/02/13/organic-foods-gm/
So what’s a person to do? One thing we can all do if we’re concerned about GMO foods on our plate is to look for non-GMO foods.
A good place to start is with the Non-GMO Shopping Guide.
The guide is produced by the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT). According to their website, “the Institute for Responsible Technology is a world leader in educating policy makers and the public about genetically modified (GM) foods and crops. We investigate and report their risks and impact on health, environment, the economy, and agriculture, as well as the problems associated with current research, regulation, corporate practices, and reporting.
Founded in 2003 by international bestselling author and GMO expert Jeffrey Smith, IRT has worked in nearly 40 countries on 6 continents, and is credited with improving government policies and influencing consumer-buying habits
IRT’s Campaign for Healthier Eating in America mobilizes citizens, organizations, businesses, healthcare professionals, and the media, to achieve the tipping point of consumer rejection of GM foods.”
The IRT website lists dozens of food products that are non-GMO and you can download the shopping guide or purchase a handy pocket shopping guide. You may also sign up for their newsletter Spilling The Beans.
IRT Shopping Guide: http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/
Websites such as The Organic & Non-GMO Report carry a wealth of information to ensure a safe, healthy, sustainable food supply.
It may be difficult to eliminate GMO foods from our daily lives altogether, but by educating ourselves about the pros and cons of GMO foods we can make an informed decision about the food we eat. We can vote at the checkout by purchasing products and supporting companies that produce only non-GMO foods. Although GMO foods may help feed a hungry world, we need to know of any long term effects they may have on both our health and the health of our environment. For now, it may be wise to “Say NO to GMO”.
After several years of GMO testing, AIM is pleased to confirm that all of its whole-food concentrates and natural health products have been certified as non-GMO.
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, “the safety of GMO foods is unproven and a growing body of research connects these foods with health concerns and environmental damage.”
Saying no to GMO is truly the healthy way to go, and AIM products make it so.
AIM also tested all of its products to determine gluten-free and vegan status. The following table provides a guide to test results for easy reference:
**Please note the all-purpose flour and pancake/waffle mix are no longer available.