Get the Latest Skinny on Genetically Modified Foods (and Animals)

Last Updated on December 1, 2020 by admin

Throughout the United States, grocery stores are stocking their produce and lining their shelves with products that contain genetically modified organisms (better known as GMOs).  A list of things every shopper needs to know about genetically modified foods was released this week in a recent Reader’s Digest article that reveals some of the health concerns related to GMOs. The post also sheds light on the difficulties shoppers may face identifying the foods that are affected.

For starters, you should know that the DNA structures of foods that have been genetically modified are changed – it’s a food producer’s attempt to ‘improve’ the organism. One of the most popular reasons why GMOs are created is to establish a higher resistance to herbicides so that they can grow while chemicals are used to kill weeds. This reason alone is cause for worry  ‘scientists are changing the genetic structure of food’  it will not come to the table the way Mother Nature intended it.

Playing with the DNA structure of an organism opens up the doors for an increased rate of abnormalities and mutations to occur, and long-term studies on the effects of GM foods are few and far between. This topic has only recently gained increased attention even becoming a popular conversation point for many politicians. However, a variety of studies have already revealed the potential connection between genetically modified foods and illnesses, such as cancer and infertility. A rise in severe allergies is also connected to GM foods. The details of these studies and research were enough for European countries to start banning genetically modified foods.

In the United States, it’s a different story. While the required labeling of such foods does not exist in America, it’s clear that many of the foods you buy already contain genetically modified soy and corn. Why? Because about 90 percent of all the corn and soy crops in the United States are genetically modified, and not only do we eat a great deal of it – corn is the largest crop in the nation, and is also the main ingredient in animal feed.

So, if you eat meat, and the animal it came from didn’t eat grass or is not specifically deemed GMO-free, then GM foods are making it to your dinner table. You also don’t need a label to state that a product contains GM foods or by-products,  all you have to do is zero in on the maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), dextrose, soy lecithin, and corn starch listed in the ingredients list of the foods you buy.

There are other codes to seek out to see how your food was grown- just by checking its produce sticker. For example, codes that begin with ‘9’ are organic, while a ‘4’ designates chemically-treated foods that have come in contact with an herbicide, pesticide, or both. Some stores have started using identification codes beginning with an ‘8’ to signify genetic modification, but most supermarkets haven’t embraced this labeling practice yet.

Also, just because a food is organic,  doesn’t mean it is completely free of GMOs – there can still be traces. It’s just as easy as genetically modified pollen blowing in the wind.

Since corn and other GM foods are so heavily used in the food industry, 80 percent of today’s items found in a grocery store are derived from GMOs. Reader’s Digest says that this includes the likes of canola oil, milk, eggs, alfalfa, zucchini, and yellow squash.

Oftentimes, plants are at the center of the GMO topic, but Reader’s Digest also points out that animals are also being genetically engineered. In the past, GM pigs (actually dubbed ‘frankenswine’) were created, but the closest project to reach our tables is the AquAdvantage salmon – genetically engineered fish that reaches maturity in half the time of those from Mother Nature.  If approved under the FDA-required New Animal Drug Application (NADA), this salmon will become the first genetically modified animal in the U.S. food supply.