By now you have probably heard of GMOs. Also known as genetically modified organisms, this controversial agriculture practice is reaching a boiling point with a global audience crying out for their health.
SO, what exactly is a GMO?
One of the first arguments a pro-GMO-er will argue is that they are safe because we have been doing this for centuries, right? What they are referring to is called selective breeding, which has been done with the help of nature and has given us some great produce like the pluot and the grapefruit! Genetically modified organisms, however, are not the same. In a lab, scientists take genes from separate species and inject them into one another. Think a fish gene into a tomato. Taking genes that would not otherwise connect in nature and forcing them together is not the same as selective breeding. GMOs have been around since 1996 and companies are starting to bring GMO animals to market like salmon and even insects and trees are making their way into our ecosystem. Yikes!
But what's the problem?
For the record, I would consider the possibility that there could be such thing as a safe GMO. However, the way in which our food system currently produces our genetically modified food is not safe, not healthy, and has no long-term studies to prove otherwise. IN fact, big agriculture spends millions of dollars to spread false information about the safety of their products. The way in which we are producing food is a health risk to ourselves and the planet.
There is a long laundry list of issues associated with these foods. The first has to do with a chemical called glyphosate. It is a manmade systemic herbicide and crop desiccant. It was introduced to the market in the 70's under the name Roundup. Since then, it has been sprayed all over our food and in recent years many studies have come out linking the chemical to many serious health problems. It's estimated that when Roundup is sprayed less than 1% actually hits its target, the plant. This means that the other 99% goes directly into our ecosystem. And when it is being sprayed on crops, hazmat suits are required because it's not safe to breathe. Totally safe to eat though, no worries! (shady) Almost all Americans test positive for this chemical. Now, glyphosate is not a GMO, but it is a huge part of the production process and 100% shows up in our food. Glphosate and GMO crops go hand-in-hand which is why I am including it in this post.
So there are two main types of GMO seed: those that are bred to be Roundup resistant, which means when the land and crops are sprayed everything dies except the plant (so suspect, am I right?). The second is bred to actually create its own toxin to explode the stomachs in bugs. Yes. If bugs' stomachs are exploding then what is it doing to us? And get this - the "food" isn't classified as food. It's classified as a pesticide!
So why should I care?
You should care for your health and the planet and the future of your children. One of the scariest statistics associated with GMO's is the devastating affects they have had on our topsoil. At our current rate of degradation, it is estimated that we only have SIXTY. HARVESTS. LEFT. That is sixty years' worth of food left before our topsoil erodes completely, meaning that you need to seriously take your children and grandchildren's lives into account when making your food decisions today. Aside from the horrifying affects on topsoil, GMO's have been linked to numerous health issues including allergies, asthma, organ failure, and infertility, to name a few. There are countries around the world that have actually banned Monsanto and its seeds even during times of famine. Totally badass. There has been big push back by these big agricultural companies even on simple things like labeling. We have a right to know what's in our food you motherfuckers. The fact is that GMOs have not been proven safe and their long term effects are unknown. More and more research points to them wrecking havoc on our bodies and even damaging our DNA!
So what can I do?
Ideally, you want to avoid GMOs at all costs. It's becoming easier to do that with places like Thrive Market. Shout out to them for having the first ever exclusively GMO FREE catalogue. They deliver dry goods like pasta, beans, grains, and even self-care products, all at lower costs because they have cut out the middle man. Getting organic produce from your local farmer and cooking at home is a great way to avoid these DNA damaging ingredients and to save money! Check out the Food Babe and Lee from America for great info on clean eating and recipes.
For some very informative videos on GMOs, watch this series.