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What You Need to Know About GMOs


By +Carolyn Richardson on Sep 26, 2012 10:00 AM in Healthy Eating

Voters in California will soon decide if labeling genetically modified foods (GMOs) should become law. The result could have a huge impact on labeling in the U.S. food supply. Proposition 37 would require processed food products containing GMOs, to include the words "Partially produced with genetic engineering" on either the front or back label. Currently in America, there is no labeling requirement so you may not be aware how much of your diet is a product of modern science. Here's what you need to know about GMO's. 

GMOs Explained

Genetically modified foods have had their DNA manipulated to include genes from another species of plants, animals, bacteria, or virus to alter the foods’ natural abilities. Some foods are changed to make them look better, more nutritious, or more flavorful. Foods are also altered to resist the cold, eliminate plant diseases, and tolerate certain herbicides and pesticides. The result of genetically-engineered foods on the whole is an improved yield that’s easier to store, ship, and sell. About 70 to 80% of processed foods in the U.S. particularly those that include corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and cotton oil, contain GMOs.

The History of Genetically Modified Foods in the US

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), GMOs were introduced to crops in the U.S. in 1996. Since then, they have literally taken over farms across America. In 2012, the USDA reports the percentage of all genetically-engineered crops planted stand at 93% of soybeans, 94% of cotton, and 88% of corn. Other common genetically-engineered crops include alfalfa, canola, papaya, sugar beets, and zucchini. Smaller percentages of strawberries, tomatoes, squash, cantaloupes, and potatoes are also available in grocery stores in the US and many more crops are in development. Around the world, many countries have banned or restricted the use of GMOs in their food supply. 

Effects on Health

So what does the prevalence of these foods mean for our health and the environment? There have been no human trials to identify health effects of GMOs short or long-term, however multiple animal trials show a disturbing trend. A recent study in Food and Chemical Toxicology showed rats subjected to genetically-engineered corn over a 2-year period resulted in premature death and a higher incidence of liver and kidney damage. Other reports point to the risk of allergic reactions when genes from known food allergens, such as peanuts, are transferred to otherwise hypo-allergenic foods. From an environmental standpoint, the long term effects of GMOs on the natural ecosystem are difficult to predict, but they can potentially present risks to other animals and plants from unintentional cross-contamination.  

How to Lower your GMO Intake

Even though they're unlabeled, if you want to lower your intake of genetically-engineered foods in your diet, there are steps you can take. Go for 100% certified organic foods since those regulations prohibit GMOs. Foods labeled as “organic” may have less genetically engineered ingredients, as they require at least 95% of the ingredients be organic as well. Lowering your intake of processed and pre-packaged foods is another way to leave GMOs on the shelf. In terms of meat, you might go for wild-caught seafood, or go for organic or grass-fed and pasture-raised meat. This will cut down on meat that has been fed genetically-modified corn and soybean products. Lastly, buying local from farmers’ markets, co-ops, or directly from small farms may also mean less genetically-engineered foods as large food manufacturers are the primary customers of companies that specialize in genetically modified crops.

For more information on how to lower your GMO intake, check out the Non-GMO Shopping Guide provided by the non-profit group, The Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT).


Addendum: This article is not attempting to take a stance on whether or not to ban GMOs and I apologize if any information was misleading. Whether or not you seek out non-GMO products is a completely personal choice like everything else when it comes to nutrition. We also acknowledge that more research needs to be conducted on the topic.


Your thoughts...

Have you taken steps to reduce your intake of GMOs? Why or why not?

 



Comments


Absolutely nothing.  It is silly to do so. Banning a gmo food like golden rice detrimental to third world health.  It has increased Vitamin A that decreases incidences of diet induced blindness  http://goldenrice.org/. ; Banning something like this is a case of the rich West, not affected by "feel good" decisions making those decisions to the detriment of the truly poor and starving.  Some genetically modified plants allow planting with lower use of pesticides and herbicides.  Some, like golden rice, increase micronutrients. 

Food fanatics seem to be more paranoid about progress and "they (big X) is out to get you" than the tin hat space alien folks.  Breeding and crossbreeding plants is a form of genetic manipulation.  Do they think the Big Boy tomato and Holstein cow sprang from nature like that?

 



Get rid of GMO's.  Some seriously scary stuff.  How many people want a company controlling their food supply?- which is exactly what can happen here.  Read about it, find out more, educate yourself on this subject because it is very important. 



Label Gmo's YES! They are poison.

 



I think the Lord did it right the first time and science should leave things alone.  I was watching a clip on Celiac and they believe the uprise is environmental.  Another thing also in labeling our food is if it is not 100% organic it shouldn't be labeled as such it should be labeled 95% organic.  

 



You have had some good articles, but this one puts you on our 'questionable and biased information' list. You report one negative study. Have you checked for peer reviews? You do not mention the mountains of information on the benefits of increased production, better distribution, and quality.


The law in California, Proposition 37, is not about banning GMO's, it is about requiring the food to be labeled as such.  I think I have a right to know if a food is genetically modified; that is not going to prevent the food from being used in third world countries.  The article also states that their have been no human trials, so the author would not be able to cite studies; there haven't been any!  This is a huge problem, in my opinion.  How can we claim that GMO's are safe if we have no proof?  This is foolish.  There have been so many instances in the past where the public has been led to believe things are safe, when later we come to realize they are not.  A recent article in Psychology Today, Stealth Attack,  , http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201208/stealth-attac k talks about how even very low doses of pesticides, doses previously thought to be non harmful, are actually harmful to our health, especially the health of babies and small children.  Should we ignore that article because it only cites a few studies? 



Sometimes there are genetic realities in certain people that make them susceptible to all sorts of food related issues.    Much of our health has to do with the medical history of our families as much as with whether we eat GMO's or organic foods.

Now there's news out scaring people about rice, wheat and many other crops that feed 3/4 of the known world.

Also, I agree with the poster above.  Your site does have some good items on it.   Your calorie counter is very helpful, but this is a bit premature to make these kinds of proclamations after so little evidence and studies, especially when a report has come out that organic vegetables and the like apparently are no more or less nutrious than those which are not.  Also, humans are not rats, people.



Original Post by: greener333

Absolutely nothing.  It is silly to do so. Banning a gmo food like golden rice detrimental to third world health.  It has increased Vitamin A that decreases incidences of diet induced blindness  http://goldenrice.org/. ; Banning something like this is a case of the rich West, not affected by "feel good" decisions making those decisions to the detriment of the truly poor and starving.  Some genetically modified plants allow planting with lower use of pesticides and herbicides.  Some, like golden rice, increase micronutrients. 

Food fanatics seem to be more paranoid about progress and "they (big X) is out to get you" than the tin hat space alien folks.  Breeding and crossbreeding plants is a form of genetic manipulation.  Do they think the Big Boy tomato and Holstein cow sprang from nature like that?

 


I belive the discussion should not be about BANNING these aliments .... but they should be labeled as such.

I mean I have the right to know if I am buying real beef or some sort of modified version of the product. GMO may or may not be harmful for my health, but I am the one that should decide it. I mean if there is nothing bad about GMO and nothing to hide, then why not be transparent about it and write it on the label?



Well, there is another article listing 15 foods that you don't need to buy organic.  What's on the list?  Sweet corn and also cantaloupes, two of the foods listed in this article that are genetically modified.   Try to be consistent across articles Calorie Count.



I'm done with Calorie Count. They appear to be an arm of big corporations.



Labelling is the first step. They should at least give us a choice. Many believe it is this modification of foods like Wheat for example that is causing so many people to have food sensitivity. A friend of mine had to switch to non-wheat products to deal with health problems. You can't even get non-hybridized wheat in this country now. In some other countries eg. Sweden they are banning the practice altogether. It isn't about wonderful science bringing better products to us either; it is about cheaper produce and greater yield for the industry.



They aren't banning anything they are saying label it so people can choose to buy it or not. The most negative comments seem to be the least informed as if they have something at steak when people choose not to buy GMO food.

 



Quality should also factor in with quantity. More is not always better if it means that peoples health could be put at risk. The corporations producing the GMO"S are also ones doing the alleged testing for safety. Kind of like letting the fox watch the hen house.

 



LOL at "the lord" doing it right the first time.  Humans have been genetically modifying crops, through selective breeding since they started farming.  Every commercial fruit and vegetable you eat has different genetics than the ones humans originally ate.  Fruit is sweeter, bigger and more colorful.  Crops like corn have been bred to grow faster with better resiliance to disease and lower water needs.

Let's just say that the so called "Natural pesticides" in organic foods are just as carcinogenic as the pesticides applied to non-organic food oh yeah, you can wash off the pesticide residue.

Don't believe me, listen to the short 10 min video from Dr. Bruce Ames, the biochemist/molecular biologist who developed the Ames test in the 70's. (quick test to estimate carcinogenic potential of various compounds). 

~ 4:45 speaking about the tests showing rates of cancer in rats: "You get exactly the same rate in natural chemicals as the synthetic chemicals"

~5:05 "Every plant makes 100 toxic chemicals to kill off the predators. All of plant evolution is chemical warfare .... they can't run away... how do plants defend themselves? Toxic chemicals"

~ 8:30:  "You get more carcinogens in one cup of coffee than pesticide residues you get in a year."

~ 9:50: "If you scare people about a thousand minor hypothetical risks, you lost because nobody knows what's important anymore."



Listen, the only way to insure you know whats going into your body is to grow and process it yourself.  But America is way to busy to do that.



If the result is that it kills you, higher production is irrelevant. They use antibiotics to fortify foods, which in the long run will make us immune to their effect on us. It also caused 3rd generation infertility in rats. Wanna take a chance?

I don't. 



Just label it and let me decide. You can eat the way you want then and those of us who don't want to eat GMO food can choose. Stop trying to force feed me your corporate propaganda. It's plane to see where all these comments originate from.



SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!


GMO is best left to those who want to buy it. Not me.



I would like to see a study showing how GMO are different than any other type of hybrid if they in reality are. Evidently all those up in arms have never seen a seed packet or tomato plant...how else would they not realize those things have been genetically modified against disease etc, including the varieties you buy as organic. Since this basically has been going on since Mendel's day, until I see some kind of concrete evidence that there is a difference I assume it is just another case of paranoia from ill informed individuals.



There are studies that have shown that GMO food has not only killed lab rats, but that it is also environmentally irresponsible to grow. 



by the way the photo is ridiculously deceptive, no one is injecting your veggies with poison, they are producing seed that is able to withstand disease and is more nutritious. Nothing like showing your bias, which of course an article should be free from if it indeed wants to inform people accurately. Personally I would be a lot more concerned about the lead in the water and air that actually touch your food, "organically " grown or not. I btw am an organic gardener, have been for decades, long before it became trendy.



Original Post by: fit_artist

There are studies that have shown that GMO food has not only killed lab rats, but that it is also environmentally irresponsible to grow. 


can you site them please? Usually I find those types of articles are published by fringe groups and are not accurate nor scientifically sound, pretty much like the one they quoted here but didn't reference so you can't check it for yourself.



Like round up ready seeds! Go ahead. Eat them, No one's stopping you. Monsanto has already gone down.



sorry that should be cite not site



Thank you for posting the article about GMO foods.  I believe readers should be made aware of what the government and Monsanto is doing to our food supply.  Yes, as individuals, we can make our own decisions as to what type of foods we put in our bodies.   Don't forgot the corn feed to animals is also all GMO produced. 



 You can eat all the bio tech crap you want to because once it is labeled GMO everyone will know what they are getting. I buy only organic seeds to plant in my organic garden which I have also grown for decades. That's because I can choose. The point is the right to know and the right to choose.



I received my undergrad in Agricultural Economics with a concentration in production and my graduate degree in Agriculture with a concentration in weed science. Speaking from experience, Genetically Modified crops are a result of the overwhelming need to produce more food faster because of the worlds growing population. Without GM crops, the land that we cultivate would produce inefficient quantities of food and thousands upon thousands would die of starvation. On the other hand, rats only live 2-3 yrs on average anyway and typically never live on a pure diet of corn and neither do people. I would have to see how this experiment was conducted before I placed much faith in the results.



The term "genetically modified" gives no more information about a product than the term "stuffed". For those without any background in natural science: think of a genetically engineered product as of a pie. You can stuff it with strawberry, meat, or a potassium cyanide, and guess what, each pie will produce different effect in eaters. But you no way can conclude that since a pie stuffed wi potassium cyanide kills, we should not eat pies at all. Where is an original study about rats who ate GM corn and got sick? Where was it done? What particular modification the corn had? What was the lab rat strain? Unless at least those questions are answered, no conclusion can be made. Do you know that genetic technologies, such as hybridization or mutagen exposure were used for centuries in food production? Can you name the mutagens used to treat wheat or corn to achieve better features? I can answer you: EtOH or formaldehyde, for example. Do you know that insulin which is vital for millions of people with diabetes (I mean type I, not manageable with diet and exersise) is now produced be GM bacteria? Bacteria produce human insulin, which is better for the patiens than previously used pig insulin. Do you know that GM rice helps millions of people to avoid malnutrition-related problems? I am all for labeling products. Label them, so some people could act upon their phobia and avoid buy only hybridized or mutagen treated products, but never lab made. But don't attempt to ban anything from the market. There are many people interested in buying affordable nutrient rich stuff and in living longer on bacteria-produced insulin.


Can anyone answer this question: If we're not sure what the long term effects of GMO consumption by humans is, why is it allowed in the food supply?

well, other than the obvious profit motive, and a well-intentioned desire to grow more food in a smaller area at lower cost and more consistent yield, which theoretically could help reduce famine and starvation?



You can have your genetic crops. The point is the choice not to eat them if I don't want to hence the push for labeling. You forgot to mention when you genetically modify that seed you can not patent the seed and control the seed thereby earning greater profits. Solving world hunger pales behind this motivation.



Original Post by: rwallace75

I'm done with Calorie Count. They appear to be an arm of big corporations.


Actually, this article is the exact OPPOSITE of what the big corporations want!

 

There is a difference between what Mendel did--crossbreeding--and what Monsanto is doing--introducing chemicals into the plants, ie: Round-Up, etc. People have always crossbred plants and animals but there is a natural limit to that in that it is very difficult to breed different species successfully. Chemically modifying the genes in a laboratory they way Monsanto does it is entirely unnatural and we do not know the possible effects of this.

As someone has stated--these studies were dome on animals. Human tests are being done, its just that we are the test subjects!



I have an BSc in Agriculture, and have also done many research papers on GMO's.  Originally I was not a supporter, but now I know better.  The only difference between GMO's and regular crossbreeding is time.  Where normally it would take years even decades to produce the traits wanted in a plant,  GMO's have shortened this time considerably.  Also like in the Canola plant, only the proteins in the cell walls of the plant are modified, not the oil that is used and consumed from the plant.  Also organic produce etc. is no better for you then any other. It still contains the same vitamins and minerals the only difference is that going organic is better for the environment.   



Original Post by: greener333

Absolutely nothing.  It is silly to do so. Banning a gmo food like golden rice detrimental to third world health.  It has increased Vitamin A that decreases incidences of diet induced blindness  http://goldenrice.org/. ; Banning something like this is a case of the rich West, not affected by "feel good" decisions making those decisions to the detriment of the truly poor and starving.  Some genetically modified plants allow planting with lower use of pesticides and herbicides.  Some, like golden rice, increase micronutrients. 

Food fanatics seem to be more paranoid about progress and "they (big X) is out to get you" than the tin hat space alien folks.  Breeding and crossbreeding plants is a form of genetic manipulation.  Do they think the Big Boy tomato and Holstein cow sprang from nature like that?

 


This article is very dissapointing the author should not write about anything science related if they do not understand science are you a journalist or a journalist hidden as a marketer were you told to write a biased blurb, why not do more research? Unless you have read the studies and understand how data is collected and reported please don't write speculative articles.



Here is a link to the study results.

 http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm



you just proved my point by sending me an abstract



the study was only replicated once for 90days and says the study needs to be respeated and state that there were no signs of actual toxicity



You've made no point other than you want to eat GMO and produce GMO food. Guess what many of us don't want to eat it! Labeling it doesn't change anything for the producers of GMO food. They can continue to alter the food anyway they want. By labeling it I can choose not to buy it. If there is nothing wrong with GMO food then why have soon many countries banned it or required it to be labeled?



All commercial produce is GMO, its just a matter of it was modified over decades by selective breeding or in a generation by selective gene modification in the lab.   As Kargor pointed out.

GMO shouldn't be the concern, rather the concern should be what has the plant been modified to do?  For example, rice that's been modified to provide more vitamin A should be of no concern, whereas modifying a vegetable to produce higher levels of its own pesticide should.

If you have time, read Organic Food Exposed.

There is no evidence that organic is better for the environment or human consumption.



Assuming this is the cited article (A three generation study with genetically modified Bt corn in rats: Biochemical and histopathological investigation.
Aysun Kılıc, M. Turan Akay, Food and Chemical Toxicology 46 (2008) 1164–1170), my reading of the data is that a diet of 20% non-GMO corn (i.e., normal corn) + 80% standard rat chow produces statistically significantly more kidney pathology, as detected by protein in urine, in female rats than does a 20:80 GMO corn-to-standard chow diet. FEMALE RATS ARE HEALTHIER IF THEY EAT GMO CORN THAN IF THEY EAT NON-GMO CORN!

Let's have truth in labeling and label GMO foods as such; but if you avoid eating GMO food because you think it poses a health hazard, there is no factual basis for that fear, leaving you with a superstition.



Is GMO food safe?

The FDA conducts no independent testing on bio-tech GMO food.

The Bio-tech industry is not required to conduct long term safety studies on GMO's.

I don't want more chemicals in my food, bug DNA or it to be anymore roundup ready. There is a big difference between natural selection and what happens in a bio-tech lab. The bio-tech industry doesn't care if it is safe or they would test it and get rid of the negative rap. Label it and let the public choose what they want. 



I apologize for my poor wording. I wasn't speaking for the author and can't say if this is the study referenced in the article above. I posted this link so people can read for themselves.

 

Quoted from section 5, conclusion "in the three GM maize varieties that formed the basis of this investigation, new side effects linked to the consumption of these cereals were revealed, which were sex- and often dose-dependent. Effects were mostly concentrated in kidney and liver function, the two major diet detoxification organs, but in detail differed with each GM type. In addition, some effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted." "We therefore conclude that our data strongly suggests that these GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity".

 

The researchers commented that long term effects required studies to be performed for 2 years. I would think these studies would be required prior to approval for consumption by humans. Can anyone point me to these studies? Preferably studies done by scientists not on the payroll of big-agra.



"Despite biotech industry claims that GE seeds are needed to feed a growing population, genetic engineering could actually lead to an increase in hunger and starvation. Biotech companies like Monsanto force growers to sign a “technology use agreement” when growing their patented GE crops which stipulates, among other things, they the farmer cannot save the seeds produced from their GE harvest. Half the world’s farmers rely on saved seed to produce food that 1.4 billion people rely on for daily nutrition."

http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/campaign/save-our-seeds/g enetic-engineering-and-patents/



"Seed industry concentration has resulted from major pesticide manufacturers like Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer and Dow buying up half the world’s seed supply, and it has several negative impacts: 1) Use of genetic engineering to make pesticide-promoting GM crops, harming the environment; 2) Reduction/elimination of conventional seeds, giving farmers little choice but to buy GM seeds; 3) Astronomical prices for GM seeds and the pesticides used with them hurt farmers financially; 4) Monsanto’s patents on seeds permit prosecution of farmers for seed-saving; and 5) Monsanto “strong-arm” tactics with ever fewer remaining independent seed companies further reduce farmers’ seed choices and enforce the company’s stranglehold on seeds."

http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/campaign/save-our-seeds/c orporate-control-and-seed-monopolies/

If you don't care whether you consume GMO's or whether the companies producing them are marginalizing small farmers, that's up to you. But why can't I know what's in my food and what companies I am supporting? Labeling GMO's is a no brainer!



I am also officially done with Calorie Count.  



This is about labeling GMOs, not banning them. People in this country are always up in arms about freedom of this and freedom of that. Well guess what... Knowing what's in my food is a freedom as well! If you choose to eat GMOs, well good for you, but I would like the choice. Given the choice I choose "no". I am a chemical engineering student, so I do know something about this topic.


I would also like to add that GMOs are banned in most countries. The problem here is we live in a perpetual oligarchy, meaning everything is run by the large corporations. The research, the politicians are garnered by these large corporations through lobbyism, patents and lets not forget threats. Independents do research and it is bought out or undermined by corporations. The most important thing to remember here is that corporations don't care about feeding people, they care about money! Why else would they sue farmers for seeds saving?


http://m.psychologytoday.com/articles/201208/stealth-attack

Interesting article about the Bee population. It makes reference to the impact GMO and Big Company (Government backed) food suppliers are impacting the environment. Yes, they should tell us, so we can make informed choices. Anything else is fascist.


It never ceases to amaze me at how stupid people are about their own health!  They worry more about what kind of gas they put in their car then what they put in their mouth. 

The people promoting GMO are the big corporations not Calorie Count.  And the only reason they want to further the use of GMO's is so that they can line their pockets with lots of money.

I agree wholeheartedly with the other poster that mentioned that God knew what he was doing and we should just leave the food supply alone.  It is not an area in which we should be meddling.  Man is by no means smarter than God!

As far as organic vs. non-organic...it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that eating foods that aren't sprayed with poisons (pesticides, etc.) is better for you than the converse.  And no matter what the FDA (or anyone else) says, you can't make me believe that organic foods aren't higher in nutritional value.  The people saying that they aren't are the big chemical companies (like Monsanto) because they don't want to lose their revenue.

Some day, we as a society will finally wake up and realize that our health (or lack of it) is directly related to what we are putting into our bodies.  If you eat junk your health will suffer, and if you eat real, whole foods your health will soar.



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