Say No to GMO
My Pledge to Supporting Non-GMO Month
October is non-GMO month. A time to celebrate food as it should be: real, simple and high quality. That’s why I support eating non-GMO foods and I am thrilled to be partnering with Townhall to celebrate accordingly.
So what exactly is a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)?
Genetically Modified Organism (GMO): “an organism produced through genetic modification” (i.e. genetic engineering).
Genetic Engineering (GE): “manipulation of an organism's genes by introducing, eliminating or rearranging specific genes using the methods of modern molecular biology, particularly those techniques referred to as recombinant DNA techniques”.
GMO foods were introduced into our food supply in the 1990s. Cotton, corn and soybeans are the most common GE crops grown in the U.S. Other GE crops found in U.S. are sugar beets, canola, apples and potatoes. In 2012, GE soybeans accounted for 93% of all soybeans planted, and GE corn accounted for 88% of all corn planted. Scientists claim to use GMOs to modify crops for a variety of reasons such as improving resistance to insects, weeds and other pests, improving tolerance to inclement weather and improving characteristics such as color, shelf-life and nutritional content.
However, we know that the increased use of GMOs over the past two decades have resulted in “super weeds” and “super pests”, leading farmers to use even more toxic pesticides to help control the increasing resistance. Sounds like a vicious cycle, huh? That’s because it is.
Take for example glyphosate: the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in the US and “its agricultural uses increased considerably after the development of glyphosate-resistant genetically modified (GM) varieties”. In 2015, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified the chemical as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. In August 2018, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a terminally ill man, which he says was caused by his repeated exposure to large quantities of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers while working as a school groundskeeper.
My thoughts? When it comes down to it, I like to keep things real and simple. My food philosophy is no different. I encourage people to eat real, whole foods. I strongly support the need for increased transparency in our food system to distinguish GMO vs. non-GMO foods. I believe we have a right to know what is in our foods and how it was produced. More than 60 nations require transparency in labeling of genetically modified food. In the U.S., it is not mandated to label GMO foods, despite increasing consumer demand. I have outlined a few tips below from the Non-GMO Project to help avoid consumption of GMOs:
1) Avoid processed foods, especially those containing ingredients from corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, and cotton. “More than 70% of processed foods found in retail stores and restaurants contain ingredients derived from GE corn, soybeans, canola, and cotton.”
2) Look for Non-GMO Project verified products. The Non-GMO Verified Project is a third-party verification for non-GMO food and products. These food products have gone through a rigorous verification program to minimize the risk of GMO contamination.
3) Buy locally grown foods. Get to understand your local farmers’ practices. Although there may be some farmers in your area who are not Certified Organic, they may still be following the guidelines and utilizing non-GMO practices. At the end of the day, I always recommend supporting local, eating local and keeping the dollars in your community.
4) Grow your own. When we grow our own foods, we have 100% control over our products and how we choose to grow.
5) Buy organic when you can.
The use of GMOs is prohibited in organic products. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances from farm to table.” - One of my favorite resources for buying Organic is the Environmental Working Group (EWG). If there’s a time to buy Organic, I strongly encourage starting at EWG’s Dirty Dozen list.
I am thrilled to be teaming up with Townhall, a local restaurant in Cleveland, OH who is the first and still the only restaurant in the country committed to being 100% non-GMO. Here’s to moving forward with transparency in our food system and keeping food as it should be: real, simple and of course, delicious!
1. Agricultural Biotechnology Glossary. USDA.gov. https://www.usda.gov/topics/biotechnology/biotechnology-glossary
2. Herbicides and GMO Crops. Environmental Working Group. https://www.ewg.org/key-issues/food/herbicides-gmo-crops#.W7vps6om7IU
3. Can GMOs Be Used in Organic Products?. USDA. https://www.ams.usda.gov/publications/content/can-gmos-be-used-organic-products
4. Organic Farming and Food Benefits. The Organic and Non-GMO Report. http://non-gmoreport.com/article-categories/organic-farming-food-benefits/
5. What is a GMO? Non-GMO Project.
6. Organic 101: What the USDA Organic Label Means. USDA. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/03/22/organic-101-what-usda-organic-label-means
7. Consumer Info about Food from Genetically Engineered Plants. FDA. https://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GEPlants/ucm461805.htm
8. Glyphosate toxicity and carcinogenicity: a review of the scientific basis of the European Union assessment and its differences with IARC. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5515989/
9. What is Non-GMO? What are Genetically Modified Foods?. The Organic and Non-GMO Report. http://non-gmoreport.com/what-is-non-gmo-what-are-genetically-modified-foods/