Eating healthy food is vitally important for all areas of your health and wellbeing. If you have been making an effort to eat more naturally, you may have already come across the term “GMO.” GMO stands for genetically modified organisms, and GMO foods are those foods that have been genetically modified to grow bigger, stronger or sweeter, depending on the needs of the grower. Understanding what these foods are, and why they are best avoided, will help you make better decisions about the foods you put in your body.
What Are GMO Foods?
GMO foods are the product of genetic engineering. Using genetics, scientists breed GMO crops so they are better able to handle drought, contain more nutrients, are more productive, taste better, or any number of supposed improvements. Approximately 80% of today’s processed foods contain GMO ingredients, which is not surprising considering 91% of soybeans and 85% of all corn grown in the United States is genetically modified.
10 GMO Foods to Avoid
For those interested in avoiding GMO products, there are 10 foods that are the most dangerous and damaging modified foods. It’s best to avoid the following GMO foods:
Approximately 93% of soybean acreage includes herbicide-tolerant varieties of this plant. Soybeans can also be included in processed foods as soy flour, soy lecithin, soy protein, soy isolate, and soy isoflavone.
Corn is found in many processed foods and it also affects animals when it is used in animal feed. Of all of the corn planted in the United States, 85% is herbicide resistant GMO corn. Some corn has been modified to be tastier. Watch for ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, corn meal, corn starch, corn syrup, corn gluten, corn masa, and corn flour.
While cotton may not be considered a “food,” it is found in many oils, including cottonseed oil. A full 82% of the cotton acreage in the United States is herbicide-tolerant, GMO variety crops.
Alfalfa is commonly used as feed for animals, and sometimes it is included in supplements for human consumption. Roundup Ready alfalfa is GMO alfalfa and is dangerous. GMO alfalfa planting has been stopped in the United States, but the seeds that are in stock still contain GMO traces due to cross-pollination from past fields.
Modified apples are modified for purely cosmetic reasons, so they do not brown when cut. In addition, apples already carry high levels of toxic pesticide residue, which add to the dangers of consuming non-organic apples.
Canola, found in canola oil, is considered one of the most chemically altered foods in the U.S. diet. This ingredient can also be called rapeseed oil.
Sugar beets, which become sugar, have been genetically modified since 2009. All types of processed sugar are at risk for damaging genetic modifications.
Tomatoes, specifically “Flavr Savr” tomatoes, are a GMO food that needs to be avoided. Watch for this food in sauces, condiments, and other tomato-based processed foods.
Potatoes have been modified to change the quality of the starch they contain, rather than to change the flavor or nutritional value of the food. Watch for Lugovsckoy Plus, Superior NewLeaf, or Innate brands.
Papayas have been grown in Hawaii as a GMO crop since 1999. This tropical fruit can be more damaging than helpful if GMO varieties are consumed.
The Damaging Effects of GMOs
What is all of the concern about GMOs? Why are so many people concerned with avoiding these foods? GMO foods have been around for a while, but researchers are just now seeing the true problems associated with eating these foods.
GMO Foods Are Harming Agriculture
Farmers are pushing yields and focusing on monoculture, or planting just one variety of crops on their land instead of practicing healthy crop rotation. Unfortunately, this causes poor yields, increased weed growth, and soil depletion which causes more chemicals to be placed in the fields. Additionally, small-scale, local and organic farmers are hurt by the effects of GMOs.
GMO Foods Have Hurt Helpful Insect Populations
In the United States alone, between 50-90% of the bee population has vanished. Bees are essential to pollination, and the loss of these insects, which has been linked to GMOs, is hurting food production.
GMOs Are Damaging To Your Health
Long-term consumption of GMO is destroying gut health, leading to problems with leaky gut and dysbiosis. GMOs also contain residue of glyphosate, a pesticide, which has been linked to a number of chronic conditions, including autism and cancer. By consuming GMO foods, you are hurting your health and putting yourself at risk for potentially fatal diseases in the future.
How to Avoid GMO Foods
So, with the risks associated with GMO foods, how can you avoid them? Unfortunately, a lack of GMO labeling makes it difficult to know if the foods you are eating are modified or not. This makes it harder to find foods that are not modified.
So what can you do if you are serious about avoiding GMOs? First, shop through local farmers whenever possible, as this will allow you to ask about the products used. Then, avoid processed foods that are not clearly labeled as non-GMO. If it’s not labeled, chances are high it is modified. Finally, research the companies that make the foods you do consume. If the brands are members of the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, chances are high they support GMO products and the foods they sell contain GMOs
Without labeling laws in the United States, avoiding GMOs is not easy, but it is valuable. By avoiding GMOs, you can lower your risk of a variety of diseases and ensure that the foods you put into your body are as healthy as possible. Why experiment with your own health as the scientists experiment with the food supply? Avoid GMOs whenever possible, and enjoy a healthier future as a result.