Organic vs Genetically Modified Food: The Difference

Food is very personal, and one of the few things that we can control. Deborah Koons Garcia discusses the problems associated with genetically modified foods and the increased dependence on pesticides and herbicides in her film “The Future of Food.” Monsanto & Con Agra are an agricultural industry giants that are buying up seed companies, homogenizing seed supply, and then making modified versions of seed that are resistant to their patented herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers.

Know The Difference

Genetically modified foods (GM foods) are those that have been produced from GM Organisms. These changes in the food come from specific changes in the foods DNA done through genetic engineering. These techniques are done to produce extra nutrients, faster growth and resistance to viruses or bacteria. Should we be wary of such foods? We probably should, simply because we don’t know enough about GMOs. There has been little scientific testing on humans, and at least in some cases the results on animals has not been good.

We are not talking about hybridization here, as sometimes that is confused with GMOs. Hybridization crosses dissimilar individual organisms to produce the best of each organism. For instance, combining a type of plant that has disease resistant qualities with one with great production capacity, the end product is a plant that is disease resistant with greater yields. This crossbreeding of different species of plants has been done for centuries, and has done wonders to increase food production over this time.

GMOs, on the other hand, are organisms that are altered at the gene level, and it is an entirely different ballgame. Genes from a plant, animal, or virus can be inserted into another organism, usually a plant, thereby irreversibly altering its genetic code. The health risks of genetic altered food have not been clearly identified, and few studies have been done evaluating the impact on our health. If you are wondering why we humans are basically being used as human guinea pigs, there is big money involved, both with producers who are overnight dramatically increasing their yields along with the biotech industry.

Laws in the United States do not force foods that have GM ingredients to be labeled, and it is estimated that as much as two-thirds of the food in grocery stores contain some genetically engineered ingredients. That is where organic foods come in. Unless you purchase only organic food, more than likely you will have something that has been modified, particularly if they have ingredients containing corn or soybeans.

So why is organic food your safest options? If you don’t want to tempt fate by having these kinds of foods in your diet, genetically engineered materials or seeds are not allowed in food production or organic farming. This is really the only way you can be sure to avoid GM food. And don’t be drawn in to the label that says its “natural”, as it has no meaning. “Natural” does not mean organic and genetically altered foods can still carry the “natural” label.

Finally, support any legislation that supports labeling of GM foods. Until now the biotech industry has lobbied to keep any labels off those foods, but consumers should at least know how their food has been produced.

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