I went was walking into my grocery store last week and noticed their plant display. As an avid gardener, I cannot help but stop and browse. This Bonnie sign caught my attention. The first thought to cross my mind was "Oh that's wonderful! Non-GMO plants!" Then it hit me. This was their marketing at work and I came to my senses. Of course, these were not GMO plants, as there are very few actual GMO plants out there, and those few won't be in your home garden. This is where arming yourself with knowledge pays off!
On the flip side, I AM happy to see that our consumerism towards non-GMO food is being realized. My hope is that the trend continues and the demand grows!
So what IS GMO?
According to the Non-GMO Project "A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Genetic modification affects many of the products we consume on a daily basis. As the number of GMOs available for commercial use grows every year..."
As of yet, GMO seeds are only available to farmers. You won't find a GMO plant hanging around your local garden center, well, because it just isn't available!
What you do need to look out for are commercially produced foods that contain the following plants:
Alfalfa, Canola, Corn (except popcorn), Cotton, Papaya, Soy, Sugar beet, Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash
Chances are any item that contains one of these ingredients or a derivative of these can contain a GMO. A few examples of these derivatives are hydrolyzed vegetable protein, corn syrup, molasses, sucrose, citric acid, soy lecithin, yeast products, tocopherols, and the list goes on.
Why Does it Matter?
Unfortunately, you have two sides to every argument. Those arguing GMO foods are safe and those arguing that GMO foods are not safe. This is where you need to do your own research and decide what you feel is the right answer.
However, my own opinion is to proceed with caution. I question the validity of any research performed by the companies that make a profit off of these items. My additional concern is pesticide residue. Most GMO seeds are engineered to withstand chemical applications of harmful chemicals. I do not feel confident that the chemicals have leached into the produce or that the skin doesn't have a chemical residue remaining. I would love for the demand for non-GMO foods to lead the way in having a long term, independant study performed on the effects of GMO foods!
I do my best to avoid GMO produce or pre-packaged goods that contain a GMO derivative. You can look for the Non-GMO Verified logo on your foods. USDA certified organic foods also do NOT contain GMO's!
Here I leave you with a few websites that will help you form your own opinion on GMO foods.