There’s much controversy about genetically modified and genetically engineered food. Do you know what GMO really means and the impact it may be having on your food and health? Here are some of the basics:
A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GE or GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. Transgenic organisms, a subset of GMOs, are organisms which have inserted DNA that originated in a different species. (Source: Wikipedia)
Genetic modification itself isn’t new. It used to be done via selective breeding. This has always seemed a fairly natural method to cultivate the best of any plant or animal species. Remember grade school science class and Gregor Mendel’s pea plants? It was all about furthering the best, hardiest, tastiest genetic make up possible.
The discovery of DNA, however, has brought far more frightening and unnatural-seeming shifts in genetics, like the splicing together of plant and animal characteristics such as fish and strawberries.
What About Choice
Okay, so eating strawberries with fish DNA is weird and may be objectionable to some. What’s more objectionable is that there are no labeling requirements allowing consumers to choose whether they want to eat GM or GE foods or opt out of the experiment. With the jury still out on the benefits of genetically engineered food, I’d like to have a choice thank you very much.
Steps to Avoid GMO/GE Food
There are things you can do to avoid genetically modified foods in your diet.
- Get educated on which foods are typically genetically engineered and choose not to eat them
- Eat 100% organic (sadly, organic may no longer guarantee non-GMO)
- Look for products specifically labeled non-GMO and/or non-GE
- Eat 100% grass-fed beef
- Shop local and know your farmer
We may not yet be able to do away with GMO/GE altogether, but we can surely limit our support of the industry.