Not only are GMOs (genetically modified organisms) unhealthy for us, they’re also not living up to the hype. For years, industrial agriculture giants like Monsanto have boasted that GMOs are the key to feeding the exploding world population, which is set to hit 9 billion by 2050. They’ve also defended themselves by saying that the engineered traits in GMOs cut down on the use of toxic chemical pesticides.
The New York Times shot down both of those points last week, saying that after extensive analysis of data from the United Nations and other sources, they’ve found that genetic modification isn’t actually delivering on either of them.
Whereas the US has embraced GMOs and is the world’s largest producer of genetically modified crops, GMOs are largely banned in the European Union. The story we’ve been told is that GMO crops are more productive, but as it turns out, in the last 20 years the EU has produced about the same yield as the US, and for some crops has even outperformed the US.
More than 90% of corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets, and canola in the United states are GMOs.
GMO crops are engineered to be herbicide resistant, meaning that they can be sprayed down with toxic herbicides that are meant to kills weeds and survive. If the goal was anywhere near reducing pesticides, this tactic has completely backfired. In a dramatic turn of events, weeds decided to fight back and evolved to be able to withstand the herbicides, prompting GMO farmers to just use more and more herbicides in an attempt to get rid of them. Sounds effective, right?
Meanwhile in the EU, herbicide use is decreasing. So at the end of the day our crops are about as productive or maybe a little less productive than non-GMO EU crops, but we’re using way more toxic pesticides.
Pesticides go hand in hand with GMOs, and they are NOT safe
No one tries to argue that pesticides are safe. These are poisons that are created to kill either insects or weeds that inhibit plant growth. And the poisons that are lethal for insects and weeds are also dangerous for us; they’ve been linked to developmental delays, DNA damage and cancer.
- The World Health Organization linked glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide and the base of Roundup, to cancer in lab animals and “DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells” and officially declared it “probably carcinogenic.”
- The New York Times noted that a Harvard public health professor’s research “has attributed the loss of nearly 17 million I.Q. points among American children 5 years old and under to one class of insecticides.”
- Farmers who use pesticides on their crops are more likely to have depression and commit suicide.
- A study published in Environmental Sciences Europe found that rats fed GMO corn that had been sprayed with a low level of pesticides (Roundup) for two years had liver and kidney damage, cancerous tumors and early death. That’s exactly the type of corn that your standard USDA cattle is eating, and that you’re eating if you consume high fructose corn syrup and conventional processed foods. Scary stuff!
So how are GMOs working out for us?
GMO crops are not any more likely to produce enough food to feed the population than non-GMO crops are, but they do have lots of concerning health implications for consumers and farmers.
Monsanto and other GMO seed and pesticide manufacturers seem to be the only ones with a clear cut benefit, as they make their way to the bank to the tune of billions and billions of dollars. Monsanto sells GMO seeds at almost double the price of non-GMO, and since the seeds are patented, they require farmers to repurchase seeds every single year rather than saving seeds from the crop and replanting as farmers have historically done. Farmers that do replant seeds are sued.
You can avoid GMOs and pesticides! Here’s how
Don’t let giant GMO agriculture corporations like Monsanto make the decisions about how your food is created. Do you think they have your best interests at heart? Sadly, our government doesn’t protect us from toxins like GMOs and pesticides either. Taking care of your health is truly up to you, but with just bit of information you can make sure you’re getting high quality, nourishing food that your body will thrive on. One of the most powerful things you can do to take control of the situation is to change the way you spend your money. Here’s how to avoid GMOs:
- Choose foods that are USDA certified organic or Non GMO Project Verified – Organic means that the food has been grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, GMOs, ionizing radiation, antibiotics or hormones. I know that some organic foods can be more expensive, but think of it as an investment in your health. What else is of more value to you than the health of you and your loved ones? To cut down on cost, try lowering your meat consumption and eating more gluten-free whole grains like quinoa, rice and oats along with your fruits and veggies.
- Avoid processed foods that come in a bag, box or jar, especially those that contain the four most common genetically modified foods: sugar, soybeans, canola and corn.
- Understand that even foods labeled “all natural” can have GMOs in them – this labeling means nothing and you should ignore it when you see it.
- Visit your local farmer’s market to support local farmers who grow organic produce and meat.
- Grow your own food! Try planting some herbs, a tomato plant or an orange tree in a pot in the house or in your yard!
Choose to join the growing organic food movement and to protect your health and the health of your family!