How often do we hear “My health isn’t the same as it used to be” or “My mom/dad was so much more active at my age than I am today. I doubt if I can be as healthy as they are today when I reach that age.” While we can partly blame ageing, our sedentary lifestyle and our life choices, a major part is played by the food we eat. Mainly fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and legumes. In addition to these, all the ingredients added to processed food are almost always modified. To find out which foods have higher chances of containing modified genes, click here.
A genetically Modified Organism or GMO is basically a modified gene that has been artificially altered in the laboratory. What this creates is an organism that does not occur in nature or through traditional cross-breeding methods. GMO’s were introduced to reduce problems caused by insects or weeds. Modifying seeds meant that the plant could repel the insects that feed on it and they could also be resistant to herbicides making weed control easy and cheaper than before. Over the years the motive behind GMO’s has changed vastly. The developers of genetically modified foods believe that genetically modified organisms will have lower prices, higher nutritional value and taste, and durable in terms of produce quality. The capitalist motive behind encouraging genetically modified food has yet to see the light of day. Despite biotech industry promises, there is no evidence that any of the GMOs currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit. To read more on what is GMO, click here.
It is surprising to see research papers and studies mention that there are no visible differences in a body after consuming genetically modified food. The benefits of GMO food is a topic of hot debate. While the standard notion is that food should not be modified at the DNA level or it could lead to bigger health problems, there are a significant group of companies and research papers that state the opposite.
It is believed that GMO food could trigger allergic reactions. This is probably why there has been a rise in the number of people allergic to certain food. According to the CDC, there has been a 50% increase in the number of children suffering from food allergies, between 1999 and 2009. Find out more here. Eating GMO food can contribute to the development of cancer. The perfect example for this would be Roundup Herbicide by Monsanto. Roundup Ready crops are crops genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup. The active ingredient in Roundup – Glyphosate – has been proved to be a carcinogen (cancer-causing) among humans. Not to mention the other environmental damage caused by it. To read more about Roundup, click here. There is a growing concern globally that people are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. It has been proven that GMO foods could be contributing to this crisis.
When we see food on the supermarket shelves, it is hard to determine if the food has been genetically engineered. Sixty-four countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, require genetically modified foods to be labelled. Canada and United States does not require any GMO labelling as of now. Let’s hope this changes in the near future. There is no real way to find out which food is GMO and which isn’t. The only way to do it is to educate ourselves, question the facts and not rely on research papers at face-value. Digging deeper into the authenticity of information sources, supporting local small businesses and learning to analyze ingredients in store-bought products will help us to make better decisions.
At Green Schools Green Future we aim to build a school that teaches children to grow their own food organically and using technology in harmony with nature, thus paving the way to healthier and responsible leaders of tomorrow. To learn more about our project, click here. To support us and fund our project, click here.
By Kritika Rao
Pic Credit: Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels