It seems like these days there are so many conflicting opinions on the things to eat. Which diet is best? Do GMOs benefit or do they do more harm? Should we buy all organic? It can be really overwhelming and hard to know what is best. Both Lisa and are very passionate about what we feed our families and looking at what will best benefit our overall health. I would say that after I got pregnant, I did a lot more research into food choices. I am not sure if it was because more information has become more prevalent or if it was because I wanted more for my daughter, but my guess is that it was a combination of both.
I know there are many different sides to the Non-GMO debate and people feel very passionately about that, but I wanted to share the reasons why we personally choose Non-GMO and organic when we can.
What are GMO’s?
GMO’s are genetically modified organisms. This basically means a plant or meat product has had their DNA altered by adding a gene from another species. There are different claims as to why this is done: produces drought-tolerant crops, fights against pests and insects, increase crop yield, and prevents food spoilage.
According to the Non-GMO project the most common GMO crops are corn, soybeans, summer squash/zucchini, sugar beets, cotton, alfalfa, canola, and animal products (including milk).
Why I try to choose Non-GMO
- Glyphosate traces in food:
Many GMO crops are made to withstand application of herbicides and/or produce insecticides. “Genetically modified crops also are responsible for the emergence of “superweeds” and “superbugs,” which can only be killed with even more toxic poisons such as 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange).”( source). Since the introduction of GMO’s, the use of glyphosate (a popular herbicide) has increased 16-fold. In 2015, the WHO found that glyphosate was a probably causes cancer (source).
Traces of glyphosate are found on foods that we may consume every day. There was recently a study that found traces of glyphosate on common food items that contained oats: certain oatmeal, granola bars, and even Cheerios and other common cereals. You can read the article here. Now certain companies and the EPA have come back stating that the level of glyphosate was at a safe level for human consumption, but why should we settle for chemicals in our food in the first place? According to the EWG, the EPA raised what it considered safe levels of glyphosate in recent years, 300 times higher, after many farmers started using it more.
2. Lack of knowledge of long term effect:
Long term studies haven’t been done to research the effects GMO’s may have on humans. Do the positive impacts outweigh the negative impacts? Are they safe for human consumption? Do they cause allergies or other health problems? Will they impact our environment by altering the soil biomes or surrounding ecosystems? Personally, all of these unknowns do not sit well with me and I do not feel right purchasing items that I know have been modified, especially when they are modified in a way that traces of chemicals are being found in common, popular products. I am a huge believer that what we put into our body impacts our health in a profound way and anything that may disrupt that balance is not something I want to put into my loved one’s bodies.
As with anything highly controversial, I urge you to research both sides of the argument so that you can make an informed decision on your own. There is so much information available online, but unfortunately we live in a time where studies and articles may be very biased.
What you can do to avoid GMO’s
- Buy organic! The use of GMO’s is prohibited in organic products. “To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table.” – (www.usda.gov). Certified organic products also have regulations on pesticide use.
- Talk to local farmers: In areas where organic options may not be as readily available, get to know your local farmers. Ask them what their practices are regarding seeds, pesticide usage, and even what they may feed their animals. This will open the dialect and you may feel more comfortable buying their product just by learning how they farm.
- Look for the butterfly: Non-GMO Project is a verification program for non-GMO foods and products. Keep in mind, however, this only means that the products have not been grown using genetic engineering practices. There are no regulations on pesticide use on those crops. The only way to be sure that pesticide regulations are in place is to buy organic, or talk directly to that company. Some companies can’t afford to go through the verification process so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
- Demand labelling: Many developed countries around the world, including the European Union, Japan, Chine, Russia, and Australia, require mandatory labelling of GMO’s. – (www.justlabelit.org) The US, however, is not one of those countries, despite the majority of Americans in favor of mandatory labelling. I, for one, would like to know what exactly is in my food so that I can make informed decisions when it comes to my family.
- Go easy on yourself: I try not to stress when it comes to eating out, special occasions with family and friends, or school functions. It would be exhausting to try to keep up with it all and try to control every situation. The truth is I enjoy eating out and indulging every now and then. I believe moderation is a huge key to happiness!
Below you will find a few sites to reference for more information about GMOs.
Non-GMO Project: Here you can find all kinds of information on non-GMO labelling, the verification process, and a list of verified non-GMO brands.
Living Non-GMO: A website created by the non-GMO Project.