By Bryan Bradford, Chief Nutrition Officer of Sunflower Shoppe Natural Foods
May 30th, 2014
Big news in Vermont gives consumers the ability to see what the foods they eat are made of, allowing them to make choices.
On May 9, 2014 lawmakers in Vermont passed a bill requiring foods sold on their grocery store shelves must list information on the package stating whether the product has been genetically modified or if any included ingredients have been genetically modified. They believe it is the consumers right to know.
This legislation could eventually impact not only food labeling practices in Vermont, but have an impact in every state across the country.
So, what are GMO’s?
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
Crops are currently modified to survive herbicide treatment, produce their own pesticides and resist certain diseases. Here is a list of the most genetically modified foods currently in the market.
- Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
- Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
- Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
- Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
- Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)
Most people in the United States don't realize that they've been eating genetically engineered foods since the mid 90s.
In 1994, genetically modified Flavr Savr tomatoes became the first commercially produced GMOs. They were brought out of production just a few years later, in 1997, due to problems with flavor and ability to hold up in shipping. The modification was designed to allow the tomato to delay ripening after picking. Currently there are no genetically engineered tomatoes on the market. As you can see, the trend is heading toward more, not less of this activity, so it is important to educate ourselves in order that we can make informed decisions on whether or not to include them in our diet. There is still much debate on the safety of genetically modified foods and human testing has not yet proven them safe (or unsafe). So here are some pros and cons to consider:
- It secures the livelihood of farmers, and can make more food available to feed more people.
- It can enhance the quality and flavor of food.
- GMOs can resist deadly viruses, insect infestations, weed killer and be more drought tolerant, thereby surviving conditions that could reduce or wipe out crops altogether.
- No research to prove safety for human consumption.
- Creation of "super" weeds and other environmental risks.
- Introducing allergens and toxins to food.
More to consider:
GMO ingredients are found in 80% of packaged foods in the US. Currently, the U.S. has no restrictions on these ingredients, yet in 40 other countries there are significant restrictions or outright bans on foods containing GMOs.
It’s important to know what’s in the food we eat, and there are organizations that can help. The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building the non-GMO food supply, educating consumers and providing verified non-GMO choices. Look for products stamped with the Non-GMO verified label. They believe that everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume genetically modified organisms.
We here at Sunflower Shoppe couldn’t agree more.
For more information about GMOs or other health topics, come see us at Sunflower Shoppe, where great health is just a way of life!
The content and opinions expressed in this “Shoppe Talk” blog are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any illness or to provide medical advice. We are not medical doctors and we do not prescribe medication. If you have any questions about the relationship between nutrition and supplements, we recommend that you seek the advice of a qualified and licensed health practitioner. Our opinions are based on the literature and data from a variety of medical doctors, chiropractors, naturopathic physicians, biochemists and other professional researchers. You are encouraged to make your health care decisions based on your own research and the advice of a qualified health care professional.