South of the border there is a debate raging that impacts all of us. It has to do with food labels and whether or not genetically modified foods (GMOs) should be labeled as such.
This isn’t avant gard stuff – more than 60 countries already have GMO labelling laws.
The jury is still out on whether genetically modified foods are even safe for human consumption. There are studies that say they aren’t, and industry-funded studies that say they are, although there are no independent studies that prove GMOs ae safe for people or the planet.
Instead of getting caught up in a dispute over research that can be complicated to begin with, there are two undisputable facts about GMOs that should give us all cause for concern:
The quantity of herbicides and insecticides required to grow GMO crops:
GMO seeds and plants are engineered to be dependent on patented herbicides that are known to be carcinogenic. The major crops in North America, corn, cotton and soy beans, are grown almost exclusively using genetically engineered seeds and are doused with Roundup and other proprietary chemicals. Some seeds are engineered to release insecticides as they grow. This chemical dependence has created super-weeds and super bugs.
All of these chemicals make their way to our tables either directly in the GMOs we eat, or indirectly in the meat we consume from cows and other livestock fed genetically engineered corn.
The lack of species diversification and the fact that globally about seven companies are in complete control of major food crops:
Through history civilization has learned the hard way the dangers of single crop farming and lack of species diversification within various crops. If you only grow one variety of potato and that variety is infected with blight then you have nothing to fall back on. GMOs are the opposite of diversification and put our food supply at risk, making it more susceptible to pests, extreme weather and disease.
As well, genetically engineered seeds contaminate wild and other non-engineered plants through crop drift. Biotech company patents then extend to all contaminated crops.
Because GMO labelling isn’t mandatory in Canada or the U.S. there are other steps we can all take to reduce our exposure to genetically modified organisms.
Buy certified organic version of the most common genetically modified crops: corn, canola, soy products and sugar made from sugar beets (not labeled cane sugar). Products like honey are also suspect in areas where bees gather pollen from genetically engineered crops. GMOs are not permitted in certified organic foods.
Buy fewer processed foods. It is estimated that GMOs are in 80% of processed foods. Soy and corn are common ingredients in many processed foods (soy lecithin, glucose/fructose and high fructose corn syrup) so by cooking more from scratch you’ll avoid GMO additives.