Before we start this article, we wanted to say that our intention for tackling this topic is not to cause confusion or divisions. The main purpose of this write up is to lay out what GMO is and why there are many people who think that genetically modified organisms that end up on our table are one of the causes of rising food allergies and other illnesses.
I’ve read several articles online regarding GMO and its relation with food allergy and I often discover on the comment section that people have different opinions about GMO. Some say that it is dangerous to our health and others say that it’s not and that they’re seeing these modifications as an improvement of an organism to benefit humans.
In reality, science hasn’t discovered the exact reason for the development of food allergies and though research and studies are still ongoing, we need to stay food allergy safe until we have a cure and one way of ensuring it is that is to be on the lookout for foods that are being made available for our consumption.
What is GMO?
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms, which means that plants or animals’ genetic make-up has been altered. To some, this is to improve an organism that aims to increase the vitamin content of fruit or make a vegetable more resistant to viruses or diseases or makes animals like cows produce more milk and even close to composition and nutrients of milk from humans (still in progress). Some experts say that this modification is a more precise method of breeding plants and animals to remove the undesirable trait of that specific organism.
To others, GMO is an unnatural process that is harmful to both our environment and to us humans. It is a step to make vegetables and other crops withstand harmful pesticides and make farm animals produce meat in a short period of time for profit with no regards to the natural process of producing food.
Most Common GMO Produce
It is estimated that there are 120 varieties of GMO foods circulating in the US market. What we included in this list are some of the most popular and can be found as ingredients to some snacks, cereals, and other processed foods that most of us consume. This list is not in order.
- Soy – The most common or heavily modified food in the US. It is modified to achieve the highest level of oleic acid and make it resistant to herbicides.
- Corn – Also modified to resist herbicide. According to studies, almost 85% of corns available are GMO.
- Alfalfa – Is an herb used to improve kidney conditions, bladder, and other prostate issues. It is a very common crop to feed to horses and dairy cows. It is modified to withstand herbicide that kills weeds.
- Canola – It is a common source of edible oil that we normally use for cooking, and like the previous crops, it is modified to withstand herbicide. Weeds affect the quality and the quantity of the produce.
- Sugar Beets – According to studies, GMO sugar beets are in 95% of the sugar beets market.
- Zucchini and Yellow Crookneck Squash – Though the GMO numbers are small, these popular vegetables are modified to protect it from viruses.
- Milk – It is always in high demand that some farmers give their dairy cows a hormone called rBGH or recombinant bovine growth hormone to increase the quantity of milk that a cow produces.
Food Allergies and GMO
There are some claims about the negative effects of GMO on our health and linking it to the rise of food allergies. We always mention that the numbers of people affected by food allergies are growing and that’s because it’s true and GMOs is one of the possible factors of it.
There are experts stating that the existing allergen on fruits, nuts, and veggies are increased when it’s modified making it more dangerous to people with food allergies. There’s a possibility that our parents who consumed GMOs, might’ve passed along the side effects of it and may have caused food allergies but unfortunately, there are no reliable studies about it yet.
GM critics also claim that genetic engineering a soybean alters its DNA that may produce more allergen protein than its natural genetic make-up. This claim may be possible as genetic engineering can mutate, permanently turned off or on, delete, and change level of proteins of an organism’s native DNA.
Other Health Concerns
Some other concerns about GMO are plants that have been modified to be resistant to pesticides, herbicides, parasites, among others. These plants may develop diseases which are more resistant to antibiotics that may later lead to new viruses and diseases.
Other studies show that since the introduction of GMO in 1996, there’s an increase in the following health conditions:
- Reproductive disorders
- Digestive Problems
- Chronic illness
- Food Allergies
Do we need to avoid GMO?
How we eat and live our lives are always our choice. If we don’t see any issues with GMO then there are a lot of options, since it’s supported by some food producers and big corporations. Many crops aside from what we mentioned above like apples, potatoes, plums, tomatoes, squash, and even rice that are genetically modified and some are available all year round.
If you are convinced that GMO is a health risk, fortunately, there are farmers who still choose to go organic with their products using organic pest repellent and organic ways of growing their live stocks. Many establishments like hotels and restaurants support organic produce and choose to buy with local known farmers only.
Nature and food deserve our utmost respect, it is our main source of energy and we can all agree that we can’t live without it. These organisms, especially fruits, vegetables, and farm animals, are as they are for a reason and their DNA and genetic make-up are developed through millions of years of survival and adaptation. What we’re trying to point out is that nature has its own way of developing itself and human intervention may need more years of studies, especially if the product is being consumed by humans itself.
There are more to tackle this matter and we admit that this topic is too broad however our goal is to provide an easier understanding of GMO and its relation with food allergies. The last thing that we can say is that nature provides us with what we need and it’s been doing that for several thousands of years and heck, our population is growing by the second. Choosing natural and organic is being practiced more these days; it is up to us if we will support GMO or non-GMO products.