GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, have been a popular topic of conversation in regards to health and the nutrition level of food. Here are some facts every parent should know about GMOs.
- Genetic modification refers to the genetic recombination of different organisms in order to create new strains of food. Most genetic modifications are to create resistances, such as herbicides or pesticides. For example, some foods are genetically altered to endure high levels of herbicide use to keep from losing profits to competing plant organisms.
- Approximately 75% of all foods in the United States contain some GMO components. This statistics come from Gigi Chang, CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World. She encourages parents to be better aware of which foods contain GMOs.
- The most popular genetically modified foods are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil. Corn is found in everything from livestock feed to non-dairy creamer. Anything that uses high-fructose corn syrup, including most candy, soda, and even bread, contains corn. Soy is not only used in soymilk, but also in items such as cereal and chocolate. Canola and cottonseed oil are two of the most widely used cooking oils.
- Because genetically modified foods are a new development, not enough research has been done on their long-term effects. However, what has been noticed is a positive correlation between the introduction of GMOs and pediatric cancer, autism, and food allergies. This means the instances of these conditions have increased at the same rate as genetically modified foods.
- Most other countries require food producers declare the use of genetically modified foods to their citizens, but the United States does not. Currently the United States does not require GMOs to be labeled due to great efforts by the food industry, according to author Robyn O’Brien. Labeling products creates a chain of responsibility that leads directly back to the creators of GMOs.
- Fast food establishments are not required to disclose whether or not they use GMOs. With the common use of corn syrup in soda, soy as fillers, and canola oil as cooking and frying oil, the chances of the use of genetically modified organisms in fast food is high.
- Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are the most likely products to be genetically modified. In addition, they are the most likely to be exposed to chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides, which increases the likelihood of toxin residue. The best way to avoid these factors, according to Stonyfield Organic Yogurt chairman Gary Hirshberg, is to buy organic.