If you think that the slicing and dicing of genes to create cross species is something that only happens in science fiction movies then sadly your in for a surprise. GMO, or Genetically Modified Organisims are a modern reality which involves the manipulation of our food in order to improve production on mass scale.
Examples of GM foods include pest resistant corn and delayed ripening of tomatoes. To achieve these properties, animal genes are employed such as moth genes into apples and rat genes into lettuce. There is little research about GM foods and hence little understanding about what effect they have on our health and the environment. Concerns include the increased use of pesticides which are known toxins, cross contamination of crops, the creation of superweeds and superbugs, widespread crop failure, adverse effects on soil and water ecosystems, endocrine discruption, toxins, anti-biotic resistance and allergies.
In Australia, GM ingredients are mainly sourced from four main crops; Corn, Cottonseed, Soy and Canola, which are often used as feed for livestock, entering into meat, dairy and egg products. These ingredients are also often found in packaged and processed foods such as cakes and biscuits without labelling. There is currently limited regulation in Australia when it comes to the labelling of GM foods and as of recently the NSW government has approved the growth of GM canola with many more trials under way. American chemical companies such as Monsanto and Bayer are behind the process of Genetic Engineering.
Modification of food genes allows the plants to withstand the toxic effects of herbicides which are sprayed over crops to deter pests. These herbicides are provided by Monsanto themselves.
As consumers we have the right to know what is in our food. There are many ways that you can make a difference including signing the ‘Right toKnow’ petition found at at http://www.truefood.org.au/OurRightToKnow/ to let the government know your stance on GM foods.You can also get a copy of the ‘TrueFoods guide’ at the same address which informs you which popular brands contain GM ingredients and which are GM free. A kids edition of the guide has recently been released with popular childrens foods listed.
Eating a diet consisting predominatly of plant based foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds will help you to avoid the packaged and processed foods which are commonly sourced from GM ingredients.
Try to buy organic as much as possible, especially when it comes to animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. By demanding the labelling of GM ingredients in our food we can protect ourselves and our children from such artificial manipulation of our food supply and therefore preserve our health and wellbeing.
So… what do you think about GMO foods? Was this info a surprise?
Kate Harrison is a Melbourne based Naturopath and Mother. Kate specialises in Woman and Children’s health and has worked alongside other allied health professionals at Victoria’s first independent midwifery center, MAMA. (Midwives and Mothers Australia). Kate maintains a blog and social media platforms where she regularly writes health related articles which focus on educating the public about Herbal Medicine and Nutrition. You can follow Kate’s blog at www.kate-harrison.net