What Exactly Does GMO Mean?

Last Night's Dinner: Cosmic Cashew Kale and Chickpeas

In my quest to better understand what I eat on a daily basis, I have been trying to learn more about our nation’s food sources. I have been noticing a lot of “non-GMO Project” or “No GMOs” on certain foods. I realize that I probably see these more often since I do the majority of my shopping at Whole Foods, but I was still unsure of what a GMO was.

So, what exactly is a GMO and what does it mean if it’s in your food? GMO stands for genetically modified organism. I don’t know about you, but that term sounds a little scary, especially when you are talking about food.

According to the Non-GMO project:

Agricultural products are segmented into two groups: (1) those that are high-risk of being GMO because they are currently in commercial production, and (2) those that have a monitored risk because suspected or known incidents of contamination have occurred and/or the crops have genetically modified relatives in commercial production with which cross-pollination (and consequently contamination) is possible.

What is disturbing is how pervasive GMOs are in many of the prepared and processed foods, that are eaten in families on a daily basis. This is another reason to really consider switching to a whole foods diet—elimination of a lot of GMO risk!

If you are wondering what foods are at a high risk of being derived from GMOs, here is a list from the Non-GMO project website:

Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ethanol, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products

If a lot of the above ingredients sound familiar, it’s because they appear very frequently in prepared and processed foods.

You are probably asking yourself: “What’s so bad about GMOs?” Here is a disturbing quote from the American Academy of Environmental Medicine:

Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM asked physicians to advise patients to avoid GM foods.

I find this really frightening—it’s enough to make me steer clear of these foods and chose products that are non-GMO project certified. While certified organic products are prohibited from using GMOs, they are not routinely tested for them.

If you are interested in learning more about GMOs and using the non-GMO Project database to search for Non-GMO certified foods, visit their website.

So, I guess you can see how I feel about GMOs, what about YOU?

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