Monday, June 23, 2014

GMOs: Understand the Basics

Nearly 90 percent of corn, soy, sugar beets, canola, and cotton in the United States are grown from genetically engineered seeds.

Syringe and fruit tree

You can’t escape them — genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are everywhere, from major U.S. commodity crops to grocery shelves to labeling legislation in 26 states. They are currently occupying the media in one of the most contentious debates in modern science.

What is a GMO?

A GMO is an organism produced by transferring genetic material between two or more species that are not capable of reproducing in nature. This process is termed genetic engineering (GE) because it takes place only in a laboratory through the use of biotechnology.

Why are they in our food supply?

The following are several of the reasons agribusiness companies create GMOs:

  • Protect crops from insects.
  • Increase crop resistance to herbicides.
  • Improve the growth rate of crops and yield size.
  • Increase the ability of crops to grow in harsh weather conditions.
  • Enhance nutrition.

Why are people opposed to GMOs?

The following are concerns among some citizens and scientists:

  • Unintentional allergens may be introduced into the food supply.
  • Weeds may become tolerant to herbicides and increase chemical usage.
  • Pests may evolve resistance to GM crop toxins and require increased use of insecticides.
  • GMOs may cross-contaminate wild species and decrease genetic biodiversity.
  • The toxins of GM crops may harm non-target insects such as bees and Monarch butterflies and impact the entire food chain.

Nearly 90 percent of corn, soy, sugar beets, canola, and cotton in the United States are grown from GE seeds. These ingredients exist in our food system primarily in the form of processed foods and as feed for our livestock in the industrial farming system. No long-term studies have been conducted on the safety of GMOs for humans or the environment. The FDA is currently reviewing the first GE animal, the AquAdvantage Salmon.

By Katherine Kopfler, MSN ('13), dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

FALL 2015
Have questions about a program?
Request information »

More Health Tips

In general, fish caught outside the Fukushima area have levels of radiation far below acceptable limits, but long-term effects of the disaster are still unknown.

Unplugging from electronic devices before bed can improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep.

No need for expensive, chemically laden household cleaners — you likely already have most of these eco-friendly, family- and pet-safe cleaning supplies on hand.

The CDC estimates that by focusing on chronic disease prevention, U.S. health care costs could drop by $1.6 trillion. Are you doing your part?

These simple tips can help provide relief from seasonal allergies so you can enjoy spring again.

Stainless steel and glass bottles are the safest options for you to drink water out of.

Subscribe to Newsletters

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
1 + 7 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.