A quiet revolution has been occurring in our country of late. Citizens are rebelling against processed foods and choosing to consume more natural and simpler fare that has been less touched by modern science. The general term for it is clean eating and it includes many basic food principles followed by our ancestors. One of the current hot topics is the inclusion of genetically modified organisms or GMO’s in our food. The use of genetic modification to seek desired characteristics in plants and animals began in 1972. It has now reached epic proportions and so has the controversy around it.
In truth, this debate has been getting louder and louder in recent years. The shouts at times, are deafening with one side claiming that GMO’s are bad for us and for the environment, and the other side arguing that to feed the world we must make food more plentiful and disease resistant.
What are the benefits to permitting GMO’s? For one, GMO plants are now resistant to pests. Monsanto created alfalfa seeds that create their own insecticide. A genetically engineered papaya from Hawaii is resistant to virus damage. Soy is the most prolifically engineered crop. It has been altered to be disease resistant, to increase production per acre and to contain higher levels of healthy fatty acids. Other plants have been bred to stand up better to harsh climates, or to become drought resistant. One can see why these alterations could be highly beneficial to the producers.
How common are GMO’s in the US? The answer is very and becoming more so all the time. Here are the percentages of some common crops that are genetically modified:
Papaya (Most of Hawaiian crops)
Sugar beets (95%)
Zucchini and yellow summer squash (approx. 25,000 acres).
Soon… salmon, chicken and beef will be added to this list
For many consumers the prospect of consuming GMO food is frightening and maybe especially so because we don’t know which foods are GMO. The US has taken the position thus far that they need not be identified on the label .
We used to label our non-GMO products and now continue to support companies that are transparent in their non-GMO practices.. I think you’ll be surprised how many products are genetically modified.