Genetically Modified (GM) Foods, also known as Genetically Engineered (GE) foods have been around even before the GMO debate started. Most of the products in the market today contain traces of GMO. According to research, more than 60 percent of processed foods in the market today are genetically modified.
Why GMO Was Introduced
The biggest factor for the introduction GMOs was to fight crop diseases. For instance, transgenic papaya was first introduced in Hawaii after the original one was wiped by a viral disease. Today, almost all varieties of papaya grown in the US are GE.
GE crops have high resistance to diseases and can withstand the damaging effects of pesticides and insecticides. Genetically engineered crops also produce bigger and tasty yield. GE products are therefore economical for the farmers.
Common Foods With GMO
The first transgenic crop was introduced in the market in 1994, but today, 94 percent of the soybean varieties from the US are genetically engineered. 90 percent of papaya and cotton varieties grown are also transgenic. Other GE crops today include:
- Corn – 88 percent of feed corn and a few varieties of sweet corn grown in the States is transgenic
- Some varieties of rice and wheat grown outside US
In addition, most snacks contain GMO, with research indicating that 40-75 per cent foods sold in the supermarket contain traces of GMO. Pizza, pre-cooked soups, ice cream and popular condiments have high levels of GMO.
GMOs are also used to produce fermented foods, cheese and starch products. 42 percent of the sugar consumed in the US is transgenic, and is mainly found in processed foods in the form of beet sugar. Therefore, most processed and sugary foods contain GMO.
Transgenic animals have also been produced in the lab. These include fish that grows faster than the normal rate, cows that produce milk with pharmaceuticals and sheep. However, they are yet to enter the market.
Negative Effects of GMOs
FDA has maintained that GE foods are safe for human consumption, but people still believe they deserve a chance to make the judgment for themselves. Though these foods are said to possess various health benefits over non-GE foods, various health scares have been reported in the US.
The main reason GE foods are opposed is because of the negative effect they have on the environment. Genetically modified crops not only pollute groundwater but also harm wildlife, making them ecological hazards.
Gene flow from transgenic crops to weeds is also feared to cause weed problem. Tests done on caterpillars showed that GE crops contained allergens that killed some and left others with stunted growth. Though the health effects on humans are not yet known, long-term consumption of GE foods has been linked to various types of cancers.
In conclusion, it is important to note that government regulators have already approved the use of GMOs and there might not be turning back on this. Though the long-term impacts of these foods on your health are not yet clear, it is good to protect yourself and your family by making wise health choices.