Monsanto and genetically modified foods (GMOs) are popular news topics these days. There are groups calling GMOs “frankenfoods,” and there are groups touting the sustainability of the GMO crops. Although I respect the intent of the scientific advances, I believe it is important for everyone to understand the potential harm that GMO foods can do to our bodies.
How do GMO Foods Affect my Health?
Allergies – Food allergies tend to develop when the gastrointestinal tract is inflamed. Inflammation in the gut reduces the ability of foods to be digested and absorbed. Two GMO foods, the tomato and the potato, have been removed from the market due to health concerns. Ingestion of these foods caused gastric lesions in laboratory rats resulting in their death. In some instances, these lesions were precancerous. Inflammation damages the lining of the gut permitting it to erode into lesions.
When some of the partially digested proteins do get absorbed into the bloodstream, the body does not recognize them. Since they are “foreign” bodies, the immune system creates antibodies to neutralize the foreign invader. This is how food allergies develop. These antibodies will now be triggered and released every time a person eats this food, whether it is the GMO version or not. Repeated consumption of food allergens creates chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.
Antibiotic resistance – Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is already prevalent in our society. The creation of GMO foods will only make this problem worse. When foreign genes are introduced to a host cell, many are rejected. In order to track which modifications are successful, engineers attach an antibiotic resistant trait to the genes being inserted. Then the cells are flooded with antibiotics to see which ones survive. The cells that survive are the antibiotic-resistant genetically modified cells.
Both the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization have acknowledged the problem of antibiotic resistance, and both of these organizations have spoken out against using antibiotics in the GMO process.
Unknown – I do not want to use scare tactics, and unfortunately, I have no facts to list here. But the truth is that we do not know the long-term effects of consuming GMO foods. We may not know for several decades.
One of the goals of GMOs is to make crops resistant to pesticides so they are developed with the pesticide inserted into their DNA. There are numerous studies showing that pesticides are toxic to humans. If the pesticide is inside a crop’s DNA, it is able to evade the body’s normal defense mechanism and get into bloodstream. There have not been any studies to determine the potential damage that this can cause.
How can I avoid GMO foods?
1. Buy organic – Any food that is certified organic is certified as a non-GMO food. Organic food, by definition, has not been genetically modified.
2. Read labels – I know that this can be cumbersome but it is really important. I
3. Eat whole foods – If you eat fresh fruits and vegetables and clean, grass-fed protein, you don’t have to read labels. All you have to do is look for the organic sticker on the produce that you buy.
4. Go to www.nogmoshoppingguide.com and download their pocket guide to take with you on your next shopping trip. Or, better yet, download an app for your smartphone. The app contains lists of brands that do not contain any genetically modified ingredients.
Americans eat genetically modified foods every day. It would be easy to ignore the health risks and eat the foods that are readily available. And while 100% avoidance is difficult, we can make choices every day that limit our exposure and support our health goals.