07 July 2009

avoiding genetically modified foods

Genetically modified foods (or GM foods) have made big waves in the news lately, ruffling the feathers of public interest groups and environmental organizations across the globe. But what, exactly, are they, and how bad could a “modified” food really be?

A genetically modified food is any food whose genetic makeup has been artificially engineered. Some are designed for “pest resistance”, others are artificially beefed up with vitamins and minerals they wouldn’t otherwise possess. Both animals and crops can be genetically engineered (for example, in 2006 a pig was ‘modified’ to produce omega-3 fatty acids). On paper, it sort of sounds like a good idea: nutrient rich food that’s less susceptible to pestilence must be great. Right?

Well, consider the fact that GM foods not only alter the natural genetic makeup of an organism, but that they all companies to trademark and therefore own these organisms, regardless of where that organism might wind up. Because these foods are modified but sold as traditional meat and produce, there is a high potential for allergic reactions in people. As there is no way to prevent GM seeds from cross-breeding with non-GM seeds, the potential for mass spreading of modified foods is very high.

Mostly, though, is the simple fact that these organisms – organisms that have survived just fine for thousands of years without any technological interventions – don’t need modification. They have their own built-in ways of dealing with everything from bugs to drought, and each new hurdle thrown in nature’s way has proven to be a learning point from which plants and animals have developed their own natural resistances. Tinkering with their natural makeup puts our world’s food source in a very dangerous place, leaving it prone to any number of mass illnesses they would not be able to defend themselves from. Genetic modification is putting our foods and our bodies at great risk, and they are being distributed at an alarming rate. GM foods have been banned everywhere from Switzerland to Sri Lanka, but in the U.S. they are widely available and unlabeled.

What can you do about it? For starters, get informed! Research the foods you’re buying and the places you’re buying them from. Vote with your fork – what you consume and the money you spend on it is just as important as how vocal you are about why you’re buying it. Finally, let someone know how you feel! Write to your congressperson, your parents, your grocer, your friends. Let people know why you want non-GM foods and the lengths you’re willing to go to in order to get them.

Here are some helpful links to help you learn more and take action:

Ban GM Food – An activist group that aims to, well, ban GM foods!
Food Navigator – Keeping you informed on what’s happening in U.S. foods
World Health Organization – 20 Questions on GM Foods
Organic Consumers Association – Lots of great information and ways to get involved in your foods

1 comment:

facereallity said...

People wake up, read, read and read know thy self and be aware of your health and the food you consume...... take action, don't be fooled

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