Genetically Modified What?

Just when you thought you were beginning to understand the whole organic food movement, GMOs decide to poke their head into the equation – argh! My vision for this post is to not bombard you with too much information but hopefully just enough so you can keep up with these political food movements when someone brings it up at your next get-together.

So, what are GMOs and why should you care? Well, GMO’s or genetically modified organisms, according to David Suzuki, refer to plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology. They are foods created by merging DNA from different species. And that was the simplest definition I could find – sorry!

Now, why should you care? Supporters of GMO technology believe it may solve world hunger issues as crops can be reprogrammed to survive harsh weather conditions, insect infestation or disease, resulting in higher yields. While opponents claim that GMO crops actually require more herbicide and pesticide use as  “super” weeds and bugs are now an issue due to herbicide and pesticide tolerance.

Now that you know what GMOs are your probably imagining those weird looking multi-coloured carrots being the spokesvegetable for GMO crops. But guess what? Those carrots are natural and real! The list of GMO crops grown and sold in Canada is actually quite small and includes only: corn, canola, soy and sugar beets.

What do to? Well, from a health perspective no human studies have been done and animal studies suggest a need for further rigorous testing to ensure safety for long-term human consumption. But for now if you choose to avoid GMO food products look for organic high-risk crops as regulations state GMOs are not allowed in organic products. Or look for the non-GMO Project Verified label! 

Jessica Pirnak