From Superbugs to Super Weeds: Just How Safe are Genetically Modified Foods?

Last month we alerted you to the health hazards associated with conventionally farmed meat. In this post we’ll continue the conversation with a closer look at the role of genetic modification in farming methods and the potential health risks these practices have on your child’s health.

How does genetic engineering impact our food?

To put it plainly, genetically engineered (GE) foods, aka Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), are produced by using biotechnology to change the DNA of plants and animals by adding genes that are meant to accelerate and modify physical growth. Other ways our food becomes genetically altered is by overexposing crops to harmful pesticides and herbicides, and also by injecting animals with growth hormones.

As we pointed out last time, an obvious sign of genetic alteration is the antibiotic-resistant superbugs produced from over treating animals with antibiotics. And recent studies reveal an increase in super weeds, weeds that have grown resistant to commonly used herbicides and pesticides. In reaction, farmers are forced to use even more herbicides to combat the resistant weeds.

Extensive research reveals that harmful bacteria, chemicals and hormones are present in our food supply. Just Label It, an organization petitioning for the mandatory labeling of GE foods, estimates “…that 60%-70% of processed foods in U.S. grocery stores likely contain some GE material.

What health risks does GE food pose to your child?

According to an excellent article in KIWI Magazine, Jeffrey Smith, author of Genetic Roulette, asserts that GMOs may greatly increase a child’s susceptibility to food allergies and autoimmune disorders because of children’s rapid growth and vulnerable immune systems. Children (compared to adults) are also likely to consume more GE foods like, corn and soy-based products, which puts them at even greater risk.

The author even touches on studies concerning babies who suffered negative reactions to breast milk. The possibility of a mother passing along GE molecules through her break milk is not a far-fetched concept, having recently reported on how what you eat greatly impacts your baby’s dietary tastes.

With ongoing research consistently drawing connections between diet and well-being, it is difficult to deny that we are only as healthy as the quality of food we put into our bodies. Additionally, the rise of superbugs and super weeds and the steep increase in childhood diagnoses like asthma, allergies and even autism makes it nearly impossible to turn a blind eye  to the potential dangers of genetically modified food.

How do you really know what you’re eating?

Maintaining a healthy diet for your child isn’t about filling them full of just any old fruits and vegetables. Knowing where your food comes from and how it is produced is critical.

The tricky thing about GMOs is that you don’t always know that you’re buying them, and the terms used on labels can be misleading. This is why organizations like Just Label It are fighting to have all GE foods labeled for accurate identification. A report from the Environmental Working Group helps to clarify some of the terms distributors use to promote sales, rather than awareness:

•            “Free range” doesn’t always mean animals were allowed to roam about freely

•            “Organic” = 95% of the ingredients are organic

•            “Made with organic ingredients” =  70% of the ingredients are organic

•            “100 percent organic” = must entirely contain organic ingredients

How can you protect your child from GMOs?

As KIWI Magazine details, there are ways you can limit your child’s exposure to GMOs.  Choose foods that are labeled as “100 percent organic”, “GMO-free”, and “USDA-certified organic.” You can also buy local; get to know organic farmers in your region to ensure you know where your food is coming from.

Overall, knowledge is the key. Stay up to date on the foods that are safe for you and your children to eat. Check out The True Food Shopper’s Guide to Avoiding GMOs published for FREE by the Center for Food Safety.

Please call us at 415.826.1701 to learn more about how to keep your child and family healthy.