Are GMOs Dangerous?

"GMO" is an abbreviation for "genetically modified organism", a phrase that describes foods and food additives that are genetically engineered. It means that a foreign gene has been introduced into a plant or animal. GMO ingredients are now in more than 75% of foods in America. GMOs began to appear on the shelves in 1994.

GMO crops are genetically altered to resist insects, produce higher levels of certain nutrients, and resist herbicide toxicity. This also leaves a more toxic residue within the plant, which is passed on to us when we eat it. Most GMOs come from five, sugar beets, corn, canola and cottonseed. French and Italian researchers published a study in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology which found that death rates were five times higher in male animals fed GMO corn, and six times higher in the female animals fed GMO corn. The females, especially, very rapidly developed massive, cancerous tumors. Although the impact of GMOs on humans isn't fully known, they have been banned in 30 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan and all the countries in the European Union.

For our family, we are trying to eliminate as many GMOs as possible because I have read too many reputable studies showing the health risks. So what are some ways to avoid GMOs? Buy organic! By law, organic foods can not contain GMOs. Look for one of the non-GMO seals shown below. Avoid synthetic hormones!!! Although fish and animals for human consumption are not currently generically engineered, the food and hormones they are fed are frequently GMOs.

The little stickers on produce with a series of numbers are called PLU codes. This tells you if a fruit or vegetable is organic (GMO-free), conventional (might be GMO due to pesticides, herbicides or fungicides), or GMO..... Many stores non carry non-GMO foods, with Walmart being America's biggest seller. Some other larger stores in the central Arkansas area include Whole Foods Market, Costco, Kroger and Target. 

As I said earlier, meats and fish are currently not GMO, but the foods and hormones fed to them can be, so buy USDA organic meat and poultry. Purchase wild-caught fish, because farmed fish typically eat GMO feed. Even canned tuna can be packed in GMO oil. Wild game typically don't eat GMO crops, but they could be eating GMO corn from corn feeders that hunters put out each fall. Labels that say Certified Grass-Fed Meat or 100% Grass-Fed Meat are often safe as well.

Where do you find the most GMOs?..... PROCESSED FOODS!....... cereals, nutrition bars, chips, crackers, cookies, canned veggies and soups, soda, candy and cooking oils. You also have to think about condiments....mayonnaise, salad dressings, ketchup, soy sauce, etc. Even nondairy milks like soy milk, unless it's certified organic, contain GMOs. Almond, rice and coconut milks are generally GMO-free. Non dairy creamers and protein powders/shakes are also fraught with GMOs. And finally, GMO whey is in processed cheeses, spreads, meats, chili, sausages, soups, gravies, sauces, stews, salad dressings, snack foods, candy, beverages, bakery products, mixes and frozen desserts. SO read your ingredients!

This is just a brief overview of GMOs. I encourage you to look further into them and decide for yourself, but I personally think they are harmful in a cumulative sense, and although it would be almost impossible to eliminate them from our busy family life, we can certainly do better in avoiding them in our diet. 

Anne R Trussell MD