Monday, January 27, 2014

Do You Know What You Are Eating? [#CTWW]

This week's challenge:

FIRST ... Please visit Organic Consumers Association and read "Tell the FDA: No Watered-Down, Voluntary Federal GMO Labeling Rules!". You can also visit this PAGE for recent articles. Read through the information to lean about the GMO issue.

THEN ... If you live in the US and agree, sign the mandatory GMO labeling petition.

I was reminded, during a recent chat with my husband, that everyone has their "thing" that they focus on. We choose our own "things" to care about. Our "things" might be different from someone else's "things," but that is what makes each of us special and unique. That's how we make collective progress in this world. One of my big "things" is GMO labeling. While breeding plants to achieve desired characteristics keeps in line with nature and the environment (breeding has been done since the beginning of human civilization), genetically modifying living organisms by inserting genes that usually come from other species should be looked at with great scrutiny. I avoid GMO foods for three reasons: 

1) GMOs are not natural,
2) short and long term side effects are not known, and
3) heirloom qualities and varieties are lost.

I try to be open to new ideas. I am all for making the world a better place, but in the right way. Cows are meant to eat grass, plants are meant to be watered, and food should grow from seeds that have been naturally bred, harvested, and saved. I believe that GMO foods are not natural. Therefore, I avoid them. As a consumer, I do not know what genes have been inserted into the GMO food nor do I know how the alteration of genes affects the nutrition and health of the food. A zucchini might look like a zucchini, but the way the body processes it might be completely different.

This leads me to the second point. The general population does not know the short and long term side effects of growing and consuming GMO foods. Some large corporations might know the short term side effects, but long terms side effects will only show up in future generations. Let's assume that GMO foods are not safe for us. If they are proven safe after enough years of research and consumption by consumers, then I might reconsider. Eating a food that has been genetically modified could pose risks to our body because the body might break it down in a different way. The nutrients might be different. The cell structure itself could be toxic to our bodies. We just do not know. Although we do not know the internal changes caused by genetic modification to the food itself, we do know that the seeds of these foods are not viable.

GMO seeds cannot be saved and reused. Laws and regulations prevent the farmer from saving GMO seeds and replanting next year. Every year, the farmer who chooses to plant GMO seeds might acquire new seeds. For thousands of years, farmers have been harvesting and saving seeds, preserving the qualities of the foods that we eat. Since GMO seeds have been genetically modified, using them might yield a completely different food than expected. Farmers having to rely on large corporations to provide them with seeds is getting away from the art and science of farming. Some might say that they are just seeds. I say that a seed grows into a bush/plant/tree that supplies us with the foods to keep us alive. The quality of those seeds is of utmost importance.

If you are curious about the GMO labeling debate, read the article above. If you feel strongly about knowing exactly what you are eating, sign the GMO labeling petition.

Remember, buying Certified Organic produce and shopping at farmers markets are the best ways to avoid GMO foods. Certifications like GMO Verified Project are also helpful.

>> Would you like to know if the foods you buy are genetically modified? Why or why not??

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