Genetically modified seed corn
One of the fiercest debates raging in the food community these days (or maybe ever), is the debate about genetically modified organisms - and particularly, foods. In truth, the debate is more about politics than it is about health, but health is where we need to start. The pro-GMO camp swears that GM foods are totally safe, while the other side counters with a range of arguments, from the seemingly reasonable contention that GM foods should be labeled as such, to the extreme position that GMOs could be the end of life on this planet.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably can guess that I fall somewhere in the middle. But I still think it's an important topic to address, especially considering how much of our food now contains genetically modified ingredients.

For one thing, the contentions that GMOs are "safe" for humans to eat really don't have a lot of long-term evidence to back them up.

Then again, neither do the claims of mass extinction or major health problems caused by eating GM foods. The fact is, we've only been eating GMO foods on a regular, large-scale basis for 20 -30 years. This is certainly not long enough for conclusive multi-generational studies. Our health as a nation has declined over that same time period, but so has our diet in general, and the majority of Americans make numerous unhealthy lifestyle choices, which aren't necessarily related to consuming GMOs.

When it comes down to it, human consumption of genetically modified foods is really one huge experiment. While the outcome may be no more harmful than destroying some of our best farmland and disrupting the ecosystem (also not a wise decision when viewed long-term), it could also end up having lasting health effects on our population that are not so easy to reverse. What happens if the worst-case scenario turns out to be true? What if GMOs really do contribute to some of our most prevalent diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and more? What if they affect fertility, cause cancer, or increase incidence of mental disorders such as autism? And if we don't really know for sure either way, do you really want to be a guinea pig?

Here are a few facts that may help you make up your mind:

  1. GMOs don't just increase resistance to pests and disease; in many cases, what they actually do is make plants resistant to the ill effects of herbicides (i.e. "Roundup-ready"). What this means is that crops can be sprayed with greater amounts of chemicals, without killing the crops. What does this mean for you? It means you're eating more chemicals - not less, as some GMO-proponents try to claim. (It also means that the farmland where these crops are grown is more polluted, and the local ecosystem may be harmed more than it would be with growing non-GMO crops.)
  2. Some GMOs actually incorporate chemical agents and pesticides into the genes of the plant itself. While this may mean that pests don't bother the plants as much, it also means, again, that YOU are eating more chemicals - and they're not the kind you can wash off anymore.
  3. No matter what argument anyone poses, the fact is that GMOs are just not natural. They don't occur in nature, they're not a part of our natural food supply, and they simply would not exist if we weren't trying to play God. Our bodies were meant to eat naturally occurring foods (not ones with man-made chemicals spliced into their genes), and that is what we have been eating for thousands of years.

So, do I think it's okay to eat GM foods? If I truly follow my own premise for good health, I would have to say no....

"Eat what God made; eat it the way He made it."

Nothing genetically modified by humans would qualify as edible under this philosophy.  Everything is connected, after all, and everything works together. Messing with the system is just never a good idea - especially when you really have no clue what the outcome is going to be. When you alter the natural balance - whether it's in your brain chemicals, the microflora in your digestive system, or the population of a species - disaster usually results. I'm not in the "GMOs-are-the-end-of-the-world" camp, but I also am not interested in being a guinea pig in this grand experiment.

So for now, until I know conclusively otherwise (and maybe even then), I will treat GM foods as though they are unsafe, and opt out of consuming them myself whenever possible. As for you, you can make up your own mind, but I encourage you to educate yourself on both sides, and either way, to continue the push for GMO labeling and safety testing standards. That way, consumers will be able to decide for themselves whether or not they want to be a part of the "beta test" that is genetic modification.

To your health,


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