For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, is stands for Genetically Modified Foods, which has been the topic of many a discussion in the natural health world and beyond for many a decades. The process of modifying foods has both terrified and concerned the majority of the conscious consumer, who make it a point to eat whole, unadulterated foods; the way humans have eaten since we have existed and how nature has existed long before we were a twinkle in Gods proverbial eye.
To a commercial farmer and large companies like Dole and Tropicana, GMO is the answer to increasing resistance to herbicides, drought tolerance, supposed bacteria and fungus resistance, cold tolerance and a way to get vaccines to underdeveloped countries via foods like potatoes and bananas. That’s right! Get your vaccines in a banana! You can see how in theory this is a great, though scary idea.
The process of GMO is isolating certain genes from other plants, animals and other desired DNA bits and injecting them into the DNA of the plant. The idea behind it is that you can combine tomatoes with the genes of a fish and this will help the tomatoes to be more resistant to cold, drought and certain bacteria’s. That’s right-it’s not just plant DNA, so your tomato may not be vegan after all.
Although GMO may seem harmless and a useful tool against world hunger, the reality of the way we use GMO has forced the world to take a better look and start to make some very important decisions regarding our agricultural practices.
Soybeans, corn, wheat, canola, potatoes and cotton are the highest ranking GMO crops in the world and scarily enough, most are produced in Canada and the States. EEp!
With the pesticides alone used in GMO cotton crops, over 20,000 deaths occur from pesticide and herbicide poisoning in this category alone in one year. So, the equivalent of you going to wall mart or Zellers and picking up a cheap white t-shirt pack of five; chances are people have died to produce that t-shirt. Pretty disgusting. Although my intentions are not to produce fear mongering or scare you into living in a raw food nudist colony that sit and pray all day for the healing of the earth-there are practical ways to be a smart consumer and base where you spend your money on ideals of health, environment and economic concerns…so you won’t have to go naked unless that it what you are into.
One of the main concerns that everyone has with this agribusiness is Monsanto. This company owns the seeds, patents majority of the worlds gmo foods, pharmaceuticals and numerous other terrifying things in the pursuit of profit with a complete disregard for human health and the environment. Essentially, world domination is their goal. In fact, I believe their company slogan is “MWAHAHAHAHAH!!!”
As pollen is blown from GMO crops to other crops, even found in nature, it can alter the chemical state of other plants and flowers. A high mortality rate of monarch butterflies and caterpillars has been shown as a direct link to GMO foods as caterpillars feed on specific plants that are now laden with gmo corn and cotton pollen. This is also being transferred to weeds in farmer’s crops, ultimately making weeds more resistant to pesticides and killing more crops by cross contamination and gene transferring.
Not just plants but humans are also affected by these freaks of nature. Ever make the connection of the amount of children who are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and soy over the past few decades? Many scientists are fully confident that the contamination of genes into allergens produces an even more harmful allergen in the human body, meant to be resistant in plants and has similar resistance against the human immune system. Other human health concerns are based on studies that show that the pH in the intestines grows more acidic with GMO potatoes verses regular potatoes as has shown so in human testing.
Most people are just plum astounded that science and corrupt business practices drive our agricultural forces and has become a deadly business instead of a way to provide people with clean food which in turn provides clean soil, clean minerals, clean air…you get the idea.
Just like pesticides and herbicides, everything goes into the soil. The minerals in the soil are needed to provide our vegetation with adequate nutrients. What is our soil providing to our fruits and vegs now?
Ok, so now, what can you do as a consumer who wants to not only avoid these products, but use your eco dollar to support those who do not use these practices.
The easiest and best way to tell if something is GMO are the produce stickers in your grocery store. If you shop at a health food store, you are probably safe from having to avoid GMO foods and probably shop there for a reason. However, what about the rest of you, who has a family of three or more and has children to feed on a budget.
This was one of the most helpful tips I received from a wonderful friend and old roommate who was studying GMO in University. Thaank you Sara!
• The first number on the PLU (product) sticker of your produce will tell you if it is organic, GMO, uses pesticides or other.
So, if you look at organic bananas, apples and such, the first sticker will start with the number 9. It will say nature’s organic bananas #94652 or whatever numbers follow 9. If it starts with 9 it is indeed organic = you eat it safely and enjoy.
IF it starts with 8 it is GMO.
4 is not organic. It could be natural, though. This means that it is not necessarily certified organic, but could be local without certification. It means not organic and not gmo, but could be grown with the use of pesticides and herbicides though locally.
3 is a created number for an unknown category that the produce manager will have created for special circumstances. Now, working at a health food store at one point, every grocery manager knows that there is a grey area of numbering that you must create for certain things that do not have a product sticker. This may be from local farmers down the road or it could be shipped from some remote country you cannot pronounce that you have no idea what their agricultural practices are. This is where 3 comes in. I try to ask if I see a 3, but I ask for the highest person who does the ordering or who does the inventory. Do not ask the scrawny produce guy whose job it is to make sure the apples are evenly displayed and the lemons don’t fall off the strategically placed stack. Not only will he probably not know, but also won’t care and will make him feel useless to take time out of his job to go looking for someone who might know for a job he already resents getting paid minimum wage to spray cabbages with distilled water. Ask to speak to someone who knows what that number means. If no one knows, I ask for a manager and recommend that they have someone on staff who knows. Yes, I’m that customer, only I am exceedingly nice and patient about it. I don’t barrel in and start making a hissy fit and throw apricots all over isle 6. I simply explain that it means a lot to me how I spend my money and I want to know where my food is coming from. Most people will understand and have an answer; some people will give you the stink eye.
USA and Canada are not legally required to label or warn consumers of genetically modified substances or ingredients in foods. More likely is that they are in most parts of Europe and the rest of the world and we have the same shipments and people don’t bother to remove the stickers and don’t think it is a big deal, just a product sticker for inventory. Ha ha! This is your weapon, your tool for conscious consumerism. Take that!
In general, for the top GMO crops in the world, I buy organic. This includes clothing. I will not buy clothing from Zellers, wall mart or any other store that contributes to cotton pesticide use. I will go out of my way and out of my dollar to go shop at local thrift stores, value village, used clothing stores and online boutiques to alter used clothing to unique wearable pieces. American Apparel is a great store to support and most commercial stores will offer organic cotton, bamboo hemp and recycled denim clothing. I believe even converse shoes offer an organic hemp shoes and you can support awesome companies like terra plana, who take old shoes and materials to make a new, sustainable and down right funky fashion piece. I have even seen organic bamboo in wall mart, so even they are supplying demand for sustainable clothing. They are all about demand, so can’t blame them for trying and supplying good alternatives if people want them. They are even getting on the organic bandwagon.
Corn is in everything-cornflakes, corn pops, breaded chicken, high fructose corn syrup…gmo corn. Even the companies who are using biodegradable plastic bottles are made with-you guessed it- gmo corn. It’s nearly impossible to stay away from this ingredient. Same thing with soy. Read your labels! Most companies who do not support or use GMO products will advertise to no end because they are a rarity and people like me seek them out. Quite often the cereal box will say “NO GMO INGREDIENTS” and will be bigger than the actual product logo. If you go to a health food store you will have much less of a hard time finding GMO free products, but read your labels with caution and ask. Most people who work at health food stores are quite aware in detail about the company practices and ingredients and will have no trouble with the truth if you ask.
Us health food people are honest much to our detriment, but we love the earth so darned much, much more than companies claiming to be natural who are “fauxrganics”.
If you want to be thoroughly terrified and well educated on these subjects I suggest you rent Food Inc and The world according to Monsanto, to start. Don't say I didn't warn you. You might be looking for that naked raw foodist cult by the end or begging Woody Harrelson to let you into his commune.