Do you know just how many foods contain GMOs, or ingredients from genetically engineered plants?
You might have heard recently that the FDA has approved Genetically Modified Salmon, stating that there is no evidence that it is harmful to humans, and it is unlikely to harm the environment. What. The. Heck. Apparently, GMO, or Genetically Engineered, salmon, as the FDA prefers to call it, may be at a fish market near you in about two years, but you probably won’t know it, because there are no laws requiring food that contains GMOs to be labeled as such.
Genetically modified foods are not always bad. More than likely, they are safe to eat, and they’re not any different nutritionally. Foods have been genetically modified for thousands of years – it’s called selective breeding. Farmers have long selected seeds, or animals with more desirable traits, and crossbred them. Genetic engineering (GE) is what we commonly refer to as GMO, and it is a whole different animal (or fish in this case), because scientists actually manipulate genes and mix together species that may be completely unrelated. GE seeds can produce plants that are more drought-tolerant, weed resistant, and require fewer pesticides. That has definite benefits for our health, and the food supply, but it also has effects on the environment, and most of those effects are not so good.
If the GE fish makes it to market, it would be the first “animal” approved for human consumption. The fish can grow twice as fast as regular farmed salmon, and be ready to eat in half the amount of time. Call me crazy, but there’s got to be something wrong with that. The biggest concern that many have identified is the risk (although they tell us it’s small) of the GE salmon escaping from confinement, breeding and spreading the modified genes. Sounds like a science experiment that could go very wrong.
Many people are concerned about GMO foods in general because of their potential negative impact on the environment – and there are potentially many things to worry about. It’s important to learn more about them – both the positives and negatives. This list shows the most common crops that are genetically engineered, and this article from Abbey’s Kitchen explains some of the important environmental effects of genetic engineering.
The hard part about avoiding GMOs is that they are virtually everywhere. Even if you don’t eat these particular foods, the most common foods that you buy at the grocery store are made from ingredients that come from these crops. They’re in the formula we feed our babies, the French fries and snack foods we eat, the ketchup we pour on our burgers, and the feed that the chickens, farmed fish, and beef we buy, eats.
As I said, there are no laws that require products made with GMO ingredients to be labeled. Personally, I’m on the fence about the entire controversy, but I do feel that consumers should have a choice whether or not to buy from companies that use GE or GMO ingredients. If you really want to avoid foods with GMOs, you should buy foods labeled as organic, or those labeled with the Non GMO Project label. As for that salmon, many major retailers have already stepped up to say they will not carry it in their stores.
Do you have an opinion about GMOs? Do you think we should be manipulating our food supply, or are we just asking for trouble?