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GMO–Basics

I thought I’d write about GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms), but no one can explain this better than geneticist David Suzuki.

 

Are GMOs safe?

 

We are told that GM (genetically modified) foods are safe, but it really is still to early to know, and a growing body of research has connected GM foods with both environmental damage and with health issues, like cancer, digestive problems, inflammation, and fertility problems. Most developed nations require GM foods to be labeled as such, and some even ban GM food production and import. Canada and the U.S. have taken neither of these actions.

A recent study followed pigs eating GM corn and soy feed and compared them against pigs eating an equivalent diet of non-GM feed. The uterus of pigs on the GM diet were 25% larger. Both male and female pigs on the GM feed were 2.6 times more likely to have severe inflammation of their stomachs. This study was done because:

Farmers have seen a reduced ability to conceive and higher rates of miscarriage in piggeries where sows have been fed on a GM diet, and a reduction in the number of piglets born if boars were used for conception rather than artificial insemination. There is also evidence of a higher rates of intestinal problems in pigs fed a GM diet, including inflammation of the stomach and small intestine, stomach ulcers, a thinning of intestinal walls and an increase in haemorrhagic bowel disease, where a pig can rapidly “bleed-out” from its bowel and die. ¹

 

How to Avoid GMOs

 

If you do want to avoid GMO foods, limit or avoid processed foods as most will contain GMO ingredients. Be aware that the most genetically engineered (GE) foods in Canada are corn, soya, canola, zucchini, and sugar beets. We also import GE papaya, squash, milk products, and cottonseed oil. Apples and potatoes are next in line for GE production.

Since GMO labeling is not mandatory in Canada, choosing certified organic foods is one way to avoid GMOs. You can also avoid  buying from companies that use GM foods and/or are paying money to prevent our right to know (see below).

If you want to have a say in what policy decides about your food choices, there are many ways to do so.

–  Check out the Non-GMO Project

–  Don’t buy from companies that fund lobbyists working to prevent GMO labeling. Here are some of the “natural” food companies to avoid.

–  Sign a pledge to boycott companies that blocked GMO labeling (some of the parent companies of the ones listed in the previous bullet point link–these are the big companies like Pepsico, Kraft, Safeway, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellog’s).

¹ http://justlabelit.org/pigs-a-gmo-feeding-trial-exposes-problems/#sthash.MghtZ5Pj.dpuf

 

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