Creepy Food Ingredients Part II – GMOs!

By   |   June 9, 2011   |   Fitness

Nutrition Gal already filled you in MSG. Here’s some other letters you don’t want in your foods: GMOs, Genetically Modified Organism, or GEO, genetically engineered organism.

What It Is: Simply put, genetic modification is when DNA from different sources are combined to create a new set of genes, therefore altering the genetic makeup of the organism. In relation to food, this is done primarily to increase the total yield of the product, increase the productΓÇÖs resistance to diseases and herbicides, reduce the productΓÇÖs maturation time, and to increase processing efficacy. It is important to recognize that this is not only done in planted crops such as corn and soybeans, but also in meat products such as cows.

Why It’s Bad For You: Not only are there ethical concerns related to GMOs, there are also environmental and health concerns. Since gene transfer for plants is done through pollen, there is a growing concern of cross-pollination, which could potentially harm other organisms. Confused? Follow this example: a caterpillar could consume a plant that has been cross-pollinated with GMO substance could harm the caterpillar. Also, as this is a fairly new concept, the impact on human health is still unknown. One major concern is allergenicity. It is quite possible that introducing a gene into a plant (or animal) could cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals upon consumption of the GMO food.

How To Avoid It: Currently, the most common genetically modified foods are soybeans, corn, cotton and rapeseed (canola), but other foods such as potatoes are also starting to be genetically modified in growing amounts. Unfortunately, the amount of GMO foods available in supermarkets is more widespread than one would expect. Most of the GMO foods are found in highly processed foods such as vegetable oils and breakfast cereals. It is also important to keep in mind that soybean derivatives are consistently being used as food additives, meaning that the GMO exposure for the average consumer could be rather high. As there are limited regulations on labeling GMO foods at this time, the best thing to do is to avoid processed and packaged foods, particularly ones that contain soy in any form.

photo credit: winnond/

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