If you live in North America then you know our food does not have to be labelled if it contains GMOs.
However, I have some good news for you!
Once you learn what foods are possible GMOs and all of the names they can be listed as in the ingredient label it is actually really easy to avoid products containing GMOs while grocery shopping.
If you are not sure why you might want to avoid GMOs please refer to some of my previous articles on Featured Documentaries: GMO OMG, Genetic Roulette, King Corn, and The Future of Food.
In addition to the health effects there are also social, political, environmental, and economic outcomes of GMOs, the documentaries listed above are great resources to understand these issues.
So when it comes down to how GMOs affect our health it really comes down to two main issues:
1. The herbicide-resistant GMO crops are heavily sprayed with glyphosate, which is now classified as 'probably carcinogenic to humans' and damages our digestive lining and microbiome. This is also an issue for some non-GMO grains since they can often be sprayed with the same pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosate. I always look for certified organic and non-GMO.
2. Bt-insecticide producing GMO crops are engineered to produce an insecticide from inside of their cells so that when insects bite into the plant the insect dies. GMO advocates state that this insecticidal protein is safe for human ingestion because we have a much more acidic stomach than insects do, rendering the insecticide inactive. However, what is not taken into account is that the pH of our stomach it not always as strongly acidic as it should be. Many people have low stomach acid production, or are taking acid-blocking medications or antacids, and when we eat our stomach becomes a lot less acidic due to the presence of food and liquids.
I feel this is such an important topic, and really is easy to follow once you learn the main ingredients to watch out for.
As consumers, our collective purchasing power has a lot of influence over our food system. We can inspire substantial change by voting with our dollars for sustainable, organic agriculture and safe food.
Shawna Barker BSc., RHN is a nutritionist, college instructor, and raw food educator.