Saturday, January 11, 2014

Say NO to GMOs! Eat Organic

Oh GMOs... I never really knew about them until my college roommate had told me they exist.  I thought when you go shopping for food that if they're allowed to produce it, it should be fine [wrong].  I had no idea there was such thing as a GMO: Genetically Modified Organism.  Organic to me meant "it's just more expensive".  Now, knowing the truth, I buy only organic, and hopefully, you will too.

So, what exactly is a GMO?

According to the NON GMO Project Website:

"GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.
Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights."

OK so that's a lot to take in. Basically, a GMO is an organism that's DNA has been altered and is not naturally occurring. An apple that has been modified may look the same as an organic apple, but it is much different. GMOs have been linked to health and environmental problems.

GMOs are cultivated with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides which disrupt the mitochondrial function in our bodies. If you remember from elementary school, the mitochondria is the power house of the cell. It is furnace that produces energy inside our cells. ATP is manufactured in our mitochondria and is needed for barrier functions in our intestinal tract. So what does that mean for us with gluten-sensitvities? Eating GMOs can deplete our ATP and cause barrier abnormalities in our intestines [aka: not good].


One word, Roundup. You probably have some of this in your garage to spray on those pesky weeds. Many GMO crops are "Roundup ready" and are designed to tolerate herbicide. Roundup is sprayed entire fields of crops. The use of Roundup is unregulated and is sprayed everywhere [highways, lawns, you name it]. In fact, over 404 million pounds have been used on GMO crops, and up to 1 billion pounds have been used for weed control. It is patented as a biocidal [antimicrobial] which knocks out beneficial bacteria --> causing a negative impact on our digestive systems [leaky gut, hypersensitive response, and more]. Long story short, these pesticides/herbicides enter our bodies. It circulates in our blood, and in fact, in a study done, 93% of women and 80% of their off-spring had elevated levels of the crystal-based proteins in their blood from pesticides/herbicides. Eating animals that have also ingested GM foods allows it to enter our bodies as well. In studies, animals that consume GM crops have gastrointestinal issues and ulcers. There are studies out there that are saying that these BT Toxins are leading to depression - over 400% increase in anti-depressant drugs since GMOs were introduced.

So, why are stores allowed to sell GMO produce?

Actually, many countries are taking notice and do not consider GMOs as safe. 60+ countries [Australia, Japan, all countries in the EU...] prohibit the production and sale of GMOs. The United States, however, has approved GMOs [what!?]. In fact, products do not have to be labeled as GMOs, so many consumers, like me, have [had] no idea what they're purchasing for their families. Only when there is this picture below, that you can purchase a NON GMO Projected labeled product, which has rigorous standards and doesn't contain anything GMO [minus cross-contamination]. As their website states, however: " Unfortunately, “GMO free” and similar claims are not legally or scientifically defensible due to limitations of testing methodology. In addition, the risk of contamination to seeds, crops, ingredients and products is too high to reliably claim that a product is “GMO free.” The Project’s claim offers a true statement acknowledging the reality of contamination risk, but assuring the shopper that the product in question is in compliance with the Project’s rigorous standard."

Here are the standards off of the Non-Gmo Project's website:

What does “Non-GMO Project Verified seal” mean?
The verification seal indicates that the product bearing the seal has gone through our verification process. Our verification is an assurance that a product has been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO avoidance:
We require ongoing testing of all at-risk ingredients—any ingredient being grown commercially in GMO form must be tested prior to use in a verified product.
We use an Action Threshold of 0.9%. This is in alignment with laws in the European Union, where any product containing more than 0.9% GMO must be labeled. Absence of all GMOs is the target for all Non-GMO Project Standard compliant products. Continuous improvement practices toward achieving this goal must be part of the Participant’s quality management systems.
After the test, we require rigorous traceability and segregation practices to be followed in order to ensure ingredient integrity through to the finished product.
For low-risk ingredients, we conduct a thorough review of ingredient specification sheets to determine absence of GMO risk.
Verification is maintained through an annual audit, along with onsite inspections for high-risk products.

In fact, 80-90%+ of of processed food in America is actually genetically modified.

So, what crops are at the most/more risk of being GMOs?:
Corn [which, being GF, we eat a lot of this]

  • Canola [oil is in many items] 
  • Cotton 
  • SOY [which is in everything now, check your labels - this is something that is hard to avoid being gluten-free because it's many foods, but I advise you stay clear of this as well] 
  • Zucchini & Summer Squash 
  • Rice 
  • WHEAT [which, you shouldn't be consuming if you are GF anyway :) phew, one that we already don't eat!] 

You don't have to worry about:
  • Tomatoes - due to production issues, there are no GMO tomatoes in production [thank God] 
  • Potatoes - no GMOs currently in commercial production 

As I'm shopping, I see numbers on fruit, what do they mean?
  • 4 numbers = conventionally grown 
  • 5 numbers, first number starting with an 8 = GMO 
  • 5 numbers, first number starting with a 9 = ORGANIC [notice on the picture up top! :)]


Bottom Line:
  • Eat organic! Organic standards don't allow the use of GMO food or feed in the end product 
  • Be mindful of cross contamination - again, there is no 100% proof way to prevent this scientifically to date with chemicals in the air from near-by farms 
  • Exclude/reduce eating foods that are high on the GM crop list [and they're in almost everything we eat... think of how much you and your family are consuming]: soy, corn, canola, & sugar beats 
  • Avoid sugar that isn't 100% cane sugar 
  • Eat organic meat 

More information:
  • General Mills is for labeling! Read about it in National Geographic: here
  • Take action: Just Label It
  • Here are myths and truths explained in scientific detail about GMOs to read further: GMO Myths & Truths [this will really open your eyes] 
  • Visit [I came to know of this site from the Gluten Summit, great information and I highly recommend purchasing] 

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