GMOs & Are You Concerned About Them?
The subject of GMOs is highly emotive with many people believing that GMOs are a way to feed the world's growing population. But on the other hand, there is a growing band of concerned people who are completely against GMOs, citing that the crops are a threat to the environment, to our health and affect plant biodiversity.
How do GMOs work?
Although initially GM crops require fewer herbicides and pesticides, after a time they actually need significantly more of both. They threaten plant biodiversity because once they are planted somewhere, crops elsewhere become contaminated.
This is particularly disastrous for organic farmers.
An example of this contamination is a case in Mexico - where it is actually illegal to grow GM maize. However, in 2001, researchers found traditionally grown maize (in two remote areas) had been contaminated with GMOs from GM maize.
A GMO is a genetically modified organism or genetically engineered living thing (a plant, animal or mixcroorganism) that is created in ways that overcome natural boundaries. Species are crossed that could not breed naturally. An example that is often quoted is placing the genes from a fish into fruits such as strawberries or tomatoes.
No long term tests have been carried out on GMOsGMOs have been added to the US food supply since 1996 and yet the FDA, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have never carried out any long-term testing of GMOs in either the food or the environment. The other worrying factor about GMOs is that most are of two types. One is insect resistant and one is herbicide tolerant.
- The first means that the crop itself is an insecticide and would you want to eat such a crop?
- The second type allows farmers to use as much herbicide as they want to because they do not have to worry about killing the plants themselves.
Does this not mean that you could be ingesting more chemicals than ever?
Concerned about GMOs and want to avoid them as much as possible?You can more safely do so by buying organic food:
- Food labeled "organic" must be produced without the use of any chemical fertilizers or GMOs.
- Feed for animals that is sold as "organic" must contain only 100% organic feed.
- Foods labeled as "organic" are not allowed to contain any ingredients sourced from GMOs.
- Foods labeled "100% organic" must have only 100% organic food sources.
- Foods labeled as "organic" may be 95 to 100% organic, but the other five percent may not be from GMOs.
- Foods and products labeled as "made with organic ingredients" are only required to contain 70 percent organic food, but all of the ingredients (100 percent) must be from non-GMO sources.
You can also make sure to read labels on all foods so that you learn which are the ones that contain GMOs even though there is no legislation in the USA to state when GMOs are used. The most likely genetically modified crops are soybeans, corn, beet sugar and canola oil. Healing Natural Oils supports the right to know what is in your food.
Many of these crops are not living, nutritious foods and should be avoided anyway
- Beet sugar is frequently added to processed food as well as desserts and candies.
- Artificial sweeteners are particularly harmful to your health and are often created from a GM derivative and added to all those “diet” products such as sodas. You might not be aware that they are even used in chewable vitamins and oral prescription drugs including antibiotics.
- High fructose corn syrup come from GM corn and we all know the dangers of that particular byproduct.
- Soy is a further recently maligned food – if you want to find out more, read here
The arguments for GMOs
While I was researching material for this blog, I discussed it with my husband and he put forward the commonly held belief that it is all very well to be health conscious and go organic and more, but the bottom line is how are you going to feed the world's burgeoning population? It is just not sustainable... I
n his article Professor Jonathan Jones says: "A billion humans do not have enough to eat. Water resources are limited, energy costs are rising, the cultivatable land is already mostly cultivated, and climate change could hit productive areas hard. We need a sustainable intensification of agriculture to increase production by 50% by 2030 - but how? Food security requires solutions to many diverse problems. In the US or Europe, improved seeds could increase yields by 10% or more, reduce pesticide use and give "more crop per drop". Wishful thinking will not feed the planet without destroying it. Instead, we need smart, sustainable, sensitive science and technology, and we need to use every tool in our toolbox, including GM."
The article goes on to make many more seemingly valid points but...
Beware of arguments by those with a vested interest
While Professor Jones is senior scientist for The Sainsbury Laboratory, based at the John Innes Centre, a research center in plant and microbial science, he also in 1997 co-founded the California company Mendel Biotechnology which carries out contract research with Monsanto, Bayer and BP, and he is still a member of the Mendel science advisory board.
Even if the jury is still out on the subject of GMOs, Monsanto themselves do not have a good record. Read more about them in an article entitled Monsanto: The world's poster child for corporate manipulation and deceit by Jeffery M Smith.
This is a very interesting subject matter. Are you concerned or are you happy to continue with the status quo?
Benbrook CM. (2016). Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally. DOI:
Carlson A. (2016). Investigating retail price premiums for organic foods.
ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2016/may/investigating-retail-price-premiums-for-organic-foods/. (Accessed, 5 October 2021).
Frequently asked questions. (n.d.).
Genetically engineered crops: Experiences and prospects. (2016). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. DOI: