Green Scene Blog: The lowdown on GMOs


What’s the deal with GMOs, anyway? Guest blogger, and local nutrition expert, Wendy Vigdor-Hess explains what you need to know about these not-so-green foods.

By definition, a GMO is a genetically modified organism. GMOs (e.g. viruses, bacteria, etc.) are transferred into other species and/or animals, resulting in different combinations not found in nature. Having a healthy curiosity for the unknown makes life an adventure. But using this technology in our food may pose significant risk versus reward, leaving us to choose a more pleasing adventure.

Genetic engineering was first utilized in the early ‘70s. In the late ‘80s these practices were applied to our food supply (including medications). Now, the widest application of this technology is in utilizing patent-protected food crops. Monsanto, a large biotech company, owns the largest share of GMO crops and combines weed and insect controls to make plants resistant, resulting in a larger yield of crop—but at what expense?

These days, the most genetically modified foods on the planet include soy, corn, canola (also called rapeseed), sugar beets and cotton. A few others include Hawaiian papaya and small amounts of zucchini and yellow crookneck squash. For anyone who is a reader of food labels, you may realize the significant impact this practice has on our food supply, with corn and soy products showing up in some form in a majority of processed foods.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine states, “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food.” Those include the potential for allergies, infertility, immune problems, antibiotic resistance, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.

This consumer has made it a point to choose GMO free foods. We are lucky to live in an area where some restaurant owners support their local farmers, ensuring a GMO free experience. How can we, as consumers, make a difference to large food suppliers like Sysco? Are they reviewing the items that they carry and supply for GMOs? Can our choices make this big of an impact?

One easy way to ensure you’re buying non-GMO foods: choose certified organic. When purchasing from our plethora of local farmers, ask them about their practices. (The expense of becoming a certified organic grower may prohibit some people dedicated to safe practices from going through the official process, though they are actually GMO-free.) Organic food mandates animals be fed GMO-free food—plus, the crops are free from irradiation and synthetic chemicals.

Wendy will write more about green eating in this space. For now, check out her book!