What is a GMO?
A GMO is a genetically modified organism or simply, an organism that has had a specific change in its DNA brought about by biotechnologists using various genetic engineering techniques. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods. GMOs were introduced into the food industry for the benefits of delayed ripening time so products last longer on the grocery store shelves, resistance to infection, and increased tolerance toward certain herbicides. These benefits allow for crops to grow in non-native environments and at a cheaper expense. It is more convenient to farmers and grocers to have more robust produce that can withstand harsh treatment so it can last longer on the store shelves. But what does this mean for us as the consumer when over 80% of packaged food contains GMOs? Are we really getting the best quality, freshest and most nutrient-dense ingredients to use in our cooking at home?
Most of the GM food testing has been done on animals but the long term effect of GMOs on humans is truly unknown.Many side effects that have been exhibited include “allergenic response, antibiotic resistance, endocrine disruption, reproductive disorders and accelerated aging” (1). There may even be many more far-reaching effects of ingesting these genetically modified foods that we simply aren’t aware of just yet because these items are very new to humans’ bodies.
What does the FDA have to say about GM food? Well the FDA considers “GM food to be ‘substantially equivalent’ to non-GM crops” (2). “The FDA supports voluntary labeling for food derived from genetic engineering. Currently, food manufacturers may indicate through voluntary labeling whether foods have or have not been developed through genetic engineering provided that such labeling is truthful and not misleading” (3). Being that there is no requirement on labeling our food products we must take matters into our own hands and make our own decisions based on what we want to feed our own body and our families.
How to avoid GMOs:
- Read your labels and buy 100% organic…if it doesn’t say 100% organic, an organic item can still contain up to 30% GMOs.
- Recognize PLU codes on fruits and vegetables:
- 4 digit code = conventionally grown
- 5 digit code beginning with 8 is genetically modified (BUT remember you may see few of these because PLU labeling is optional)
- 5 digit code beginning with 9 is organic
- Purchase 100% grass-fed beef and pork
- Shop locally using resources like localharvest.org and find a Community Supported Agriculture group near your home and ask how they grow their produce
- Grow your own organic produce!
- And as always, purchase prepared meals from
Paleo on the Go strives to ensure its ingredients are the freshest and most nutrient-rich so you know you are getting a quality product that will fuel your body as nature intended. Check out our food sourcing page here.
You can also find out more information and get involved with Non-GMO project whose efforts move toward a more transparent labeling system so we know what we are consuming. Is that too much to ask?