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A Quick Understanding of GMO’s

In the year 2000, when I was pregnant with my first child, I started to learn surprising information about some dramatic changes happening in the world of food. In the early 1980’s, large chemical corporations like Monsanto were taking over how our food was grown by selling our farmers Genetically Modified seeds.

A GM seed, aka GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. The term “genetic modification” is used both commonly and legally to refer to the use of recombinant DNA techniques, in ways that are not possible or desirable in nature, to transfer genetic material between organisms. This concept of genetic modification brings about alterations in the genetic makeup and in the properties of the organism developed. This technique using genetic engineering is highly mutagenic and leads to unpredictable changes in the DNA and the proteins produced by the GMO that can lead to toxic or allergic reactions.

20 years ago this struck me as such an outlandish and scary situation. Perhaps because I was sensitive to world events that would affect my child, perhaps because I grew up in an Italian-Irish family in which we enjoyed growing a garden and sharing food as a source of health and well being, perhaps it was because I had a health education degree and felt blindsided that this knowledge had eluded me up until now. Or maybe because is was just downright scary that chemical companies would control the growing of our food supply.

As often is the case, once you learn something it is hard to unlearn it. I studied, read, and educated myself with what was happening in the GMO industry. The main reason that GMO’s have been created is to work with the pesticide industry to enhance the functionality of those pesticides. Farmers spray pesticides to control insects, rodents, and weeds. But the dilemma is that when they spray pesticides they must be careful not to affect the growing plant itself. The GMO industry determined that if they could inject the DNA of our plants with the “DNA” of the pesticide, this would allow the plant to resist the destructive effect of the pesticide. “Herbicide tolerance lets the farmer spray weed-killer directly on the crop without killing it.” During these last 40 years, in America, the majority of our corn, soy, sugar, canola, and cotton seed plants are now grown using genetically modified seeds. Also, zucchini, squash, papaya and even apples, potatoes, and tomatoes, wheat and salmon are now heavily affected by the GMO industry.

According to the Institute For Responsible Technology, the two main traits that have been added to date are herbicide tolerance and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide. These results have no health benefit, only economic benefit.

You may have questions about WHO allows this (our government), WHERE are the long term studies showing it is safe to consume GMO’s (there aren’t any) , WHEN will this end (when American consumers speak up), or WHAT can be done (here’s my top 5 list):

  1. Watch these movies:
    GMO OMG, Biggest Little Farm, and this educational video from Jeffrey Smith
  2. Read these websites and books: Institute for Responsible Technology, Seeds of Deception, Robyn O’brien
  3. Shop according to this guide:
  4. When you grocery shop, Look for this Seal
  5. Speak Up for Organic Farms and Food and Read Stories of Success
I always hear people say, “All these allergies didn’t exist when I was a child,” or “There didn’t used to be so much disease and sickness, ” or “Why is wheat causing so much trouble for people?”.

Well when chemical companies take nature’s beautiful bounty and inject the DNA of our plants with pesticides, toxins, bacteria and DNA from other species.. what do we think our bodies and our guts will do with the unrecognizable, indigestible, un-real “food” that is going into our system? Our immune system has no choice but to over react, to attack, to question what was added into our gut. Because 70% of our immune system is found in our digestive tracts, the foods that we eat and the chemicals that they contain can have a significant impact on our health. ( ) Thus we have high allergy rates, high asthma rates, high ADD/ADHD rates.. the list goes on. Human bodies are not meant to ingest pesticides and toxins and our guts are screaming at us to tell us.. stop GMO foods, stop eating the pesticides that have been added to so many of our foods.

I find it really hard to digest this information, every time I read it and write it. It is unacceptable to me that big $$ can control our food supply. Food is our medicine, our nourishment, our source of joy and satisfaction. Food belongs in the hands of farmers who understand life cycles, soil, and the well being of society. It is these farmers we need to be supporting with our voices and our dollar.