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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Genetically modified foods


I came across an interesting article on genetically modified foods in the January 2013 issue of Natural Awakenings. To be honest, I didn't know what genetically modified (GM) foods were until I read this article. I did, however, watch a Nightline report on "Frankensalmon" a couple of months ago.

At first I thought this was innovative and could become the answer to world hunger. Then the more I read about GM, the more I found out that many of the foods we eat today have some form of genetic engineering.

Supposedly, about 70 percent of processed foods found in grocery stores have genetically modified ingredients. According to WebMD, "The most common genetically modified foods are soybeans, maize, cotton, and rapeseed oil. That means many foods made in the U.S. containing field corn or high-fructose corn syrup." In other words, breakfast cereals, sodas, and even alcoholic beverages may contain some form of genetically modified ingredient.

So what exactly are GM foods? The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that genetically modified foods are the result of genetically modified organisms (GMO) where the DNA of a particular food has been changed. In other words, food engineers modify particular organisms to enhance desired traits that would result in higher yield, improved nutritional content, and or resistance to plant disease or tolerance of herbicide.

Is GMO food bad for you? There are two sides to this issue. Some say GM foods are safe to consume. Others argue that there are risks. Below are some benefits and risk I found on WebMD:

Risks include:
  • Introducing allergens and toxins to food
  • Accidental contamination between genetically modified and non-genetically modified foods
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Adversely changing the nutrient content of a crop
  • Creation of "super" weeds and other environmental risks
Benefits include:
  • Increased pest and disease resistance
  • Drought tolerance
  • Increased food supply
Identifying GM foods at grocery stores is practically impossible. Only USDA-certified organic products cannot purposely contain GMO, as stated in the Natural Awakenings article.

Furthermore, the regulatory oversight of GM foods is fairly lax. As expressed by WebMD, regulation for GM foods falls under the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Personally, I don't like to eat processed foods. Since breaking out in hives after eating a product filled with MSG, I've made it a point to always read the nutrition facts label before purchasing an item.

Of course, it's hard to avoid the tortilla chips, margarine, and salad dressing--all may have some form of genetically modified organisms. I guess from what I gathered is that perhaps it's best to avoid products that contain high-fructose corn syrup or soy, and shop organic as much as possible.

Sources: http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/GeneticEngineering/GeneticallyEngineeredAnimals/ucm280853.htm
; http://www.who.int/topics/food_genetically_modified/en/; http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/frankenfish?page=1; http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/are-biotech-foods-safe-to-eat; http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/campaign/genetically-engineered-food/crops/


 

1 comment:

amidemanila said...

Really very helpful information.But we love chips (at the back of my head)...well it doesn't hurt to reiterate.