What is GMO and How to Avoid It?

by Joshua Hampton

what is gmoHave you ever wondered how and why supermarkets get to sell almost perfect food items that are so beautiful to look at? Have you ever thought that these items can’t seriously be possible, as they are significantly bigger and look like plastic? If your answer to both questions is yes, then maybe you are not simply looking at natural food items but rather a GMO.

GMOs, which is short for Genetically Modified Organisms, have been around as early as 1900s but they only became popular in the 1980s. The use of GMOs have entered all kinds of food items such as vegetables, meat, and fruits. There are now countless GMO products out in the market. As consumers, it is imperative to really understand what GMOs are all about. What is GMO and why should we be wary about it?

What is GMO?

Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs are organisms (plants and animals) that are subjected to genetic engineering. It seeks to either combine the characteristics of two different species which would otherwise be unachievable by simple cross breeding. It also seeks to come up with healthier, better-tasting, bigger and seemingly perfect looking species.

Another thing about GMOs is that they are capable of containing more nutrients than what their natural counterparts usually have. Through genetic engineering, the genes of these organisms can be altered to make them reproduce more easily and in greater quantities. There are even those capable of containing vaccines for certain diseases such as malaria, cholera, and hepatitis.

So, how far did genetic engineering and biotechnology have come?

Some of the examples of GMO foods are soybeans that have built-in pesticides, making them resistant to certain pests. Another example is the cotton plant. Scientists have come up of a way to change the DNA composition of the cotton plant to boost its cottonseed oil content. Cottonseed oil is one of the primary ingredients for vegetable oil and margarine.

Dangers of GMO Foods

Despite all these advances, the truth of the matter is that nothing beats organic or all-natural food.

Experts are seriously opposed to the proliferation of these products because they may cause allergic reactions. It should be emphasized that these are entirely alien organisms. It is not impossible that in the process of creating better versions of things, new toxins will come out that can cause new strains of diseases. These stronger organisms that are made to be stronger versions of the original species may also be resistant to certain antibiotics can make disease treatment harder.

On macro levels, these GMOs are also associated to the death of certain insects, like caterpillars, after consuming them. This will greatly disrupt the ecosystem that may later on find its way to our level of consumption. We all know that every member of the food chain plays a key role to make the whole eco-system working.

With the advent of mass production of these GMOs, it is not impossible that almost every item we usually buy from our grocers is either genetically modified, derivative or has some GMO ingredients. That’s why even if there is still no definitive correlation between these genetically modified organisms and all its derivatives to the health and well-being of its consumers, it is still recommended that we be more circumspect when buying our food items.

In the continuing pursuit of completely unraveling the implication of the consumption of these GMOs, the consuming public will remain at risk of what eating GMOs will really lead to in the future. Science still has a long way before a complete understanding or at least satisfactory study of it can be achieved.

What Now?

In view of all these risks, very much like what the governments of various countries like in U.S. and in Europe, it is always good to be a smart consumer. Laws are now enacted mandating producers to put in the labels of food if they have used any GMO/ GMO derivatives so that consumers will be aware of what they are buying.

If you are not comfortable of eating these man-made food items, it is best to know the GMO foods to avoid.

Of course, this is such a hard task but there are things that may help you in detecting which is and which is not. First, it is best to familiarize yourself with the organisms that are now being subjected to biotechnology. It is enough warning for you to be careful in buying them and in buying other food items that makes use of these as ingredients.

As previously mentioned, there are existing laws that require food manufacturers to indicate in the packages of the food if they used any GMO / GMO derivative or if it is 100% organic. For those products that still needed further processing, it is best to pay attention to whether or not the animals or plants used as ingredient are GMO or have consumed GMO products.

You can also look for agencies (both private and public) that identify food items that are subjected to genetic engineering and look for their seals in the packages of the food that you are buying.

There are also labeling systems of fruits and vegetables that will enable you to determine if they are purely organic or conventionally produced or not.

Of course, nothing beats having your own mini garden from which your fruits and vegetables can be harvested from.

It sure sounds like a tough feat to do but understand that health is wealth and it is better to err on the side of caution than be caught up in a sorry situation later on. People are getting more and more health conscious at this point, so it is still advised to avoid these GMOs as long there are organic options to use.

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