A Crash Course in GMOs
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Sometimes just referred to as GM or Genetically Modified foods, they have generated a global debate on the safety and potential ramifications that may be associated with growing and eating them.
According to the World Health Organization (aka WHO), genetically modified organisms are defined as “organisms in which the genetic material (deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA for short) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.”
Put simply, GMOs are created by taking the genes of organisms such as animals, bacteria and even viruses and injecting them into other, often unrelated, species. To us, this is off-putting. We prefer our food to have its original DNA.
Here are a few issues that are on the table regarding Genetically Modified Foods:
1. GM foods can have pesticides that are PART of their DNA that you cannot wash off. The genes injected into these GM plants creates proteins within the plant that create holes in the insect’s gut when consumed. We would prefer to not eat something that dissolves tummies, thanks!
2. “Roundup Ready Crops” are crops that have been genetically engineered to be resistant to the pesticide Roundup. So what’s the issue there? Unfortunately, this has been shown to increase herbicide resistance in weeds that grow in the Roundup Ready fields. This means more pesticide usage to keep down the Super Weeds and Super Pests created by roundup ready crops.Super Pests and Super Weed!? Is this real life or a crazy villain in a comic book? We think roundup ready crops are Super Awful.
3. Roundup ready crops are also known as terminator seeds because they can only be used once, forcing farmers to re-buy seeds each new growing season and not allowing them to utilize their best seeds (an agriculture technique that has been used since the beginning of farming!). Roundup ready crops currently in the market are soy, canola, alfalfa, cotton and sorghum.
4. Consumption of antibiotics. Making GMOs in the lab is no cake walk. This messy process of shooting the DNA of one organism into another makes it difficult to see if the combination was successful. So what is the “solution” that biotech companies came up with? Track it with an antibiotic marker gene of course. These are then ingested by humans and animals that consume GM foods.
5. Cross contamination of organic and conventional crops. Cross pollination is a completely normal occurrence that happens in nature. Unfortunately, with the rise of many GM crop fields, they are cross pollinating with the organic and conventional non-GM fields. This means that farmers that are trying to keep their crops non-GMO may eventually find their crops have been contaminated with them. This exacerbates the importance of knowing and trusting your farmers and being confident that there has not been a cross contamination. We are proud to say all of our farmers and raw ingredient sources go through great measures to obtain and maintain their USDA Organic Seal, assuring there are no GMOs to be found.
The world of genetically modified organisms can be confusing (but hey, isn’t all mad science?). We hope our answer helped you to understand this massive topic a little more. If you still have questions, please ask! We have been in the organic world for many years and very well may have the answers you are looking for!