In our current world, especially in well-developed countries such United States, foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are gaining more and more recognition than they ever have before. Even more countries (currently not including the US) are forcing companies and corporations to label, restrict or ban the use of GMOs in their food. More and more information about GMOs becoming more widely sought after because of their increasing notoriety towards potential health risks. In addition, there is a growing movement aimed towards requiring a warning label on all items that contain GMOs, attention that is not likely to go away anytime soon in the future. Even a limited knowledge of GMOs and how they are created is enough to persuade anyone to stay away from buying them and be in avoidance all together.

Though the discovery and creation of hybrid plants dates back to Prehistoric times, the creation of GMOs is shockingly modern. Spanning over the last 60 years since the discover of DNA in 1953, there have a been a number of monumental events that have propelled GMO usage into what is it today. Starting with events including the first crops in the United States that were first modified in 1987 to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deeming GMOs safe to consume as early as 1994. The FDA also ruled that there was no immediate need for special monitoring or regulation on GMO products even though studies were beginning to show to negative effects that were plaguing animals during GMO studies. The use of GMOs has also made it possible for companies to patent the changes they have made to their particular crops as an “intellectual property”, giving them complete control and protection over their food.

What exactly is a GMO? A GMO is officially defined as an an organism that has been “altered using genetic engineering techniques. Crops that have been genetically modified go through the alteration process to alter, insert or take out a section of DNA from a plant to get a particularly desired outcome out of a crop of plants. Regularly this desired outcome is an increased size or particular color of plant or produce. The original GMO tomato, now of the market, was one of the first crops to be modified. GMO usage is not strictly contained to plants and crops however. They can

Are they safe to consume? The growing general consensus is leaning towards no. Even though the majority of processed foods sold in the United States contain some for of GMO, the health studies seem to fall by the wayside. Currently, there are ZERO human studies into the effects, positive or negative, that GMOs have on the populations health. In a number of animal studies completed by the American Academy of Environmental Science resulted in the growth of a number of ailments including immune issues, premature aging, and additional issues with major organs and functions. They have also been found responsible for a host of harmful effects including, but not limited to an increased chance of developing allergies, nutritional deficiency in those foods that are genetically modified, an increased toxicity level, and an increased chance of antibiotic resistance.

What GMO products are there? The number of products with genetic modifications is astounding. Foods that are commonly modified that should be avoided include soy, corn, oils (especially canola oil), cotton, milk (and other dairy), aspartame, zucchini, yellow squash, papaya, sugar beets, potatoes, tomatoes, rice, animal feed and salmon. There are a number of ways to avoid buying GMO products while completely your monthly grocery shopping. Looking for a certified organic sticker and buying organic foods is first step to avoid GMOs. Products that are certified organic is not allowed to contain GMOs of any kind. Looking for a Non-GMO sticker can also be a good indicator of a GMO-free product. In addition, avoiding the high-risk products entirely and making sure you are reading the label on a product before purchase can help avoid GMO exposure.

With the rising concern about GMO products and the damage they could be leaving in their wake, it is important to do your research. Knowing where and how to find products that have been contaminated by GMOs is the key to living a long, healthy life.