Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)
Your Questions Answered By Dr. Michael Wald
Would you eat foods that have been genetically modified in a laboratory? How about if they have not been studied for their potentially harmful effects upon your health? Would you still eat them? You might want to know a few more facts before you start to much-your-lunch!
1. Genetically modified foods are?
GM foods contain DNA from another source (i.e, virus, food, etc.). GM-foods are more resistant to disease, pesticides and insects. Sounds great right? But are GM-foods safe? Read on.
2. True or False: The FDA does not require labeling of GMO foods in the US.
True: The FDA does not require labeling of GMO foods, therefore, making it hard for the consumer, if by their own discretion, to avoid them. When shopping for GM foods look for food products labeled GM free or Non-GMO. 100% organic, free range, GE-free, cage free or the term 100% natural are other indicators of GM free foods.
3. Due to cross-pollination or “pollen drift”, few products within the US are GMO free. High-risk crops for GMO contamination include:
Canola, corn, cotton, papaya, alfalfa, soy, sugar beets, zucchini and yellow summer squash. Contaminated feeds also place animal products at risk including, milk, meat and eggs.
4. True or False: GM goat’s milk has antimicrobial effects and is effective in the treatment diarrheal disease caused by bacteria.
True: Goats that have been GM to produce higher amounts of lysozyme, a protein found in human breast milk, cows milk and goats milk, demonstrates antimicrobial activity in the treatment of bacteria induced diarrhea. In this case, food products from GM animals may pose benefit to human health in the future.
5. True or False: “Roundup Ready” crops, a formalized weed control system, developed by agriculture giant Monsanto, account for a significant percentage of processed foods in circulation.
True: 80% of processed foods in the US are genetically modified and a large number of these ingredients have been exposed to the weed killing chemical glyphosate or otherwise known as Roundup. “Roundup Ready” means it can withstand the spraying of glyphosate and live, while all else around it dies.
6. The Non GMO Project is a third party verification and labeling of Non GMO foods and products and serves as a resource for consumer education?
True: The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices.
7. True or False: The FDA prohibits the injection of rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) in cows, constituting that all milk is created equal.
False: Since 1993, GM hormones have been injected in cows with the goal of producing larger quantities of milk at the expense of the cow. “Milk on Drugs” is the classic phrase branded by the consumer opposition and has led to rBGH free product labeling and companies such as General Mills, Starbucks and Chipotle to free their products of artificial hormones.
8. True or False: Recognizing fruit label numbers is a technique in avoiding GMO’s.
True: Some stores choose to label fruit with an optional rating system such that: if the food is labeled as a 4-digit number it is conventionally produced; if it is labeled with a 5-digit number beginning as 8 it is GM; if the food is labeled with a 5-digit number beginning as 9 it is organic.
9. True or False: Most cattle in the US are grass fed, therefore are free from GMO exposure.
False: Most US cattle are in fact grass-fed, but may spend part of their lives in feedlots where they are fed GM corn or barley (to increase the fat content or “marbling” of the meat). This same concept applies to other herbivores like sheep. Eat only 100% grass-fed or pasture-fed (also known as pasture-finished or grass-finished. For poultry look the labeling of 100% organic as these animals cannot be 100% grass-fed.
10. True or False: the average cost of organic foods are more expensive than its conventional counterpart.
True. Overall, organic foods are more expensive – and they must be. Organic farms do not use potentially harmful chemicals to increase crop yield so their total organic food crops are substantially less than traditional farms that use chemicals. Organic foods can be as much as 20-100% more expensive than their non-organic counterpart foods. The choice is left up to the consumer and outweighing risk vs. potential benefit.