WHAT ARE GMOs?
A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. (From Wikipedia)
See the GMO Food Pyramid
WHAT ARE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED (GE) FOODS?
Watch the documentary Seeds of Freedom
for a greater understanding of genetically engineered crops and fantastic insight into the issues surrounding them! It is a must-see for anyone wishing to learn about GE crops or expand their knowledge of the ongoing debate.
Seeds of Freedom, a film produced by The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network, in collaboration with MELCA Ethiopia, Navdanya International, and GRAIN, offers a thought-provoking glimpse into the state of the global food supply, as crop seeds are being increasingly monopolized by trans-national biotech corporations (Dr. Mercola).
“The story of seed has become one of loss, control, dependence and debt. It’s been written by those who want to make vast profit from our food system, no matter what the true cost. It’s time to change the story.” – Seeds of Freedom
See full documentary Seeds of Freedom.
WHY ARE GE FOODS UNDER DEBATE?
The safety of GMOs in the foodchain has been questioned by some environmental groups, with concerns such as the possibilities that GMOs could introduce new allergens into foods, or contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance.
According to a study published in 1999, there was no current evidence to suggest that the processes used to genetically modify food were inherently harmful.
However, a number of more recent studies 
have raised concern, and environmental groups still discourage consumption in many countries, claiming that GM foods are unnatural and therefore unsafe.
Such concerns have led to the adoption of laws and regulations that require safety testing of any new organism produced for human consumption.
GMOs’ proponents note that because of the safety testing requirements imposed on GM foods, the risk of introducing a plant variety with a new allergen or toxin using genetic modification is much smaller than using traditional breeding processes. Transgenesis has less impact on the expression of genomes or on protein and metabolite levels than conventional breeding or plant (non-directed) mutagenesis. An example of an allergenic plant created using traditional breeding is the kiwi.
One article calculated that the marketing of GM salmon could reduce the cost of salmon by half, thus increasing salmon consumption and preventing 1,400 deaths from heart attack a year in the United States.
What Kinds of GE Crops are there?
At present, there are six general categories of genetically engineered crops that are either in development, or have already been approved for commercialization:
||Insect-resistant (Bt crops)
||Virus-tolerant (ringspot virus tolerant papaya, squash and zucchini)
|Nutritionally enhanced (Ex: golden rice, omega-3 soy)
||Climate-tolerant (Ex: drought resistant corn)
||Pharmaceutical and/or industrial crops, not intended for consumption as food
In terms of food crops, the most common genetically engineered varieties are:
GE Crops have Failed to Live Up to Promises
As pointed out by Senator Sanders, GE crops have failed to live up to promises—they do not provide greater yields, and they’re certainly not better for the environment. According to Ronnie Cummins with the Organic Consumers Association, use of broad-spectrum herbicides is estimated to triple as herbicide-resistant crops continue to be planted around the globe. As for the promise that GE crops will help feed a starving world by producing higher yields, consider the results published in the following reports:
- A 2006 report issued by the USDA6 stated, “Currently available GE crops do not increase the yield potential of a hybrid variety. In fact, yield may even decrease if the varieties used to carry the herbicide-tolerant or insect-resistance genes are not the highest yielding cultivars.”
- In the only side-by-side study comparing yields of RoundUp Ready (RR) soy and their non-GE soy7, RR soy had a 10 percent lower yield than the non-GE soy.
- A 2007 study8 on RR soy confirmed earlier results, concluding that RR soy had a 10 percent lower yield than its non-GE sister lines due to the fact that the RR soya could not adequately absorb manganese from the soil.
In 2009, a study published by the Union of Concerned Scientists entitled Failure to Yield9
, concluded that: “GE soybeans have not increased yields, and GE corn has increased yield only marginally on a crop- wide basis. Overall, corn and soybean yields have risen substantially over the last 15 years, but largely not as result of the GE traits. Most of the gains are due to traditional breeding or improvement of other agricultural practices.”
How to Avoid Genetically Engineered Foods
Until GE foods are labeled, your BEST strategy is to simply buy USDA certified 100% Organic products whenever possible, as these do not permit genetically engineered ingredients, or buy whole fresh produce and meat from local farmers.
The majority of the genetically engineered ingredients you’re exposed to are via processed foods, so by cooking from scratch with whole foods, you can be sure you’re not inadvertently consuming something laced with altered ingredients. When you do purchase processed food, avoid products containing anything related to corn or soy that are not 100 percent organic, as most foods containing these two non-organic ingredients are about 90 percent likely to contain genetically engineered ingredients, as well as toxic herbicide residues.
From Dr. Mercola.
Needless to say, this especially effects those on vegetarian diet. Read more about the Vegetarian Dilema: GMOs and Mock Meats