In recent years, the question of GMO vs. Non-GMO has come up more and more in consumer conversations and we’ve seen a 150% growth in interest in this topic over the last year alone. However, there are still many misconceptions about genetically modified food and their organic heirloom counterparts.
What is GMO?
It’s a genetically modified organism is created by merging the DNA from different species to create this organism; combining plant, animal, bacteria and/or virus, which cannot be produced in nature or through traditional crossbreeding.
When modifying the organism, scientists will remove certain genes from the DNA of a plant, animal, bacteria or virus different to that of the organism they are modifying. These genes are then combined with the DNA of the organism they are modifying in the hopes that these newly added genes will create new traits.
As a result, in some instances, plant foods in particular can be modified in such a way that the food is able to produce its own pesticide. Needless to say, this internal pesticide is consumed when you eat the plant.
Also, pesticides used on GMOs cannot be washed off as they are absorbed into the crops. For Bt GM crops which are genetically modified to carry the Bacillus thuringiensis gene, making the plant produce a crystal toxic to insects, this is in addition to the insecticide already present within the crop itself.
Contrary to popular belief, GM crops do not mean less spraying of pesticides. In fact, GMO’s have lead to massive increases in toxic agricultural chemical use.
★ GMO’s in South Africa
As of 1 October 2011, the law in South Africa is that food producer, importers and packagers need to specify if a product is made with 5% or more GM ingredients (5% is still too much GMO for anyone to consume)and if the food is grown from GM seeds such as maize products. Also, if the food has not been tested for GMOs it needs to say that it could contain them. You can read more detail on that here.
A quick look at the label of a product should tell you if what you are buying contains GMO ingredients, but there are only a few companies that comply with the labeling laws. We would recommend becoming familiar with the ethics of the product brand rather than just relying on labeling.
If a product is organically certified, it will also be GMO free.
A product cannot be organically certified if it contains genetically modified ingredients in any percentage.
South Africa is also said to be the 8th largest GMO crop producer in the world with our maize, cotton, canola and soya production. We South Africans have been eating genetically modified food for more than a decade without knowing it.
But why is this conversation such a relevant one and, more importantly, what do you need to know to become an informed conscious consumer?
There is a common, worldwide upward trend amongst consumers wanting organically grown, GMO-free food.
When you start looking into the foods you eat, you need to know what it is you are looking for. Knowing the difference between GMO and Non-GMO foods is one of the simplest ways to invest in your health, now and in the future.
So what is Non-GMO?
In a nutshell, non-GMO foods are foods which have not been genetically modified, meaning the food strain and DNA have not been engineered or altered through the years and still contains the original integrity of the food strains.
★ What are heirloom seeds?
Heirloom foods are even better as they are grown from the original, non-hybridised, non-GM seeds. They are seeds that are passed down through generations of farming families and have the most diverse colours and flavours available.
★ Why should you start phasing GMO foods out of your pantry? Like, today!
On the outside, it sounds like a good idea: food that can protect itself from both insects or even disease it comes into contact with while growing. Food that is cheaper, yields more produce and can grow faster …
While this technique has been used for some time, in recent years, scientists, consumer groups and environmental groups, have pointed out that modified foods can have certain risks.
No long-term safety studies exist on either the safety or benefits of GMO ingredients.
★ The health and environmental hazards of genetically modified foods
The only human feeding study ever conducted showed transference of foreign DNA into human gut bacteria. GMOs have been linked to increased allergies, gut-related conditions, autism, auto-immune disease, infertility, birth defects, obesity, cancers, and other illnesses in independent scientific studies on lab animals.
As for the environment, GMO foods can release harmful toxins into the soil, they can create pest resistance that ends up decimating organically grown foods, and they can cause an upsetting disruption to the biodiversity of the plants by interrupting the natural genes. GMOs and increased pesticide use are a major factor in the increasing death rates of bees and butterflies, as well as bird populations.
GMO pollen can travel for miles by wind or via pollinating animals like honeybees. GMO genes then infect non-GMO and organic crops. Allowing the increased use of GMO agriculture could mean the contamination and eventual extinction of natural species; animals and plants alike.
For more in depth information on GMO’s you can watch the free movie “Genetic Roulette” based on the book by Jeffery M Smith here. Make time for it, it’s worth it. If you only have 10 minutes then you can find the shorter version at the end of this page.
When these risks were exposed and made public, consumers began to demand that products be labelled as GMO or non-GMO so that they can decide what kind of food they eat.
If you join the growing legions of consumers taking back control over what they and their families eat, there are many ways you can avoid genetically modified foods when the label isn’t giving you the information you need.
How to avoid GMO foods
♥ Buy locally grown food
Explore farmers markets nearby and support local small farmers producing small scale crops through sustainable business practices.
Locally grown food generally comes from small scale farms offering fresh from the farm foods. If you can, start a conversation with them! Check with the farmer if the seeds used are non-GMO, or even better, heirloom seeds. And check if pesticides are used – non-GMO doesn’t mean it’s organic. Not only will you be buying quality, nutritious food, but you will also be supporting your local farmer and their workers meaning you are consciously choosing to invest in your local community.
♥ Grow your own
Another super easy way to commit to a GMO-free diet is to grow your own food.
If you have a garden, why not put it to good use by planting vegetables? It’s not as hard as it seems and along with improving your diet, it may also become a favourite pastime where you reconnect with nature the soil from which you grow your foods. You can get in touch with Soil For Life to take a course on making a garden, or you can buy their book here.
♥ Know the ethics and standards of the businesses you buy from
If you understand how and why a business does what it does, it means you can buy their products with confidence.
At Soaring Free Superfoods, we stock a range of organic superfoods, free from genetic modification. Our product ranges will provide you with healthy, nutritious superfoods which contain the original integrity of the plant strains. We care about how the environment is affected by the farming adnd harvesting methods used to grow these superfoods. That means organic, non-GMO or wildcrafted with integrity is the only way to go for us.
★ What’s the bottom line ?
Love is the bottom line. Making conscious purchase decisions means that you are aware of how your money-vote impacts the world around you. By wisely choosing to support conscious companies who lead sustainable business practices and who invest in building communities, you as a consumer, are driving the change towards a more eco-friendly and ethical practices.
Choose Organic GMO-Free Superfoods
Superfoods are truly worthy of their name. Unlike much of the food you buy these days, superfoods are high-return nutritional investments as they are more densely packed with quality, high integrity vitamins and minerals, including anti-oxidants, fibre, and healthy fats, than many other foods and commercial supplements. They are still in their wholefood form the way they are designed in nature. Including superfoods into your diet can elevate your energy levels, as well as many other benefits, even when consumed in small amounts. We find that people experience each of the superfoods differently and that therefore, they have their favourites. Find the superfood that fuels you!
Soaring Free Superfoods is committed to helping you live a healthier lifestyle through providing you with healthier nutritional supplement choices that are naturally from our earth and processed to maintain their integrity. Our product range is available to order online, and are certified organic or wildcrafted and certified pesticide free.
They are ethically & sustainably sourced to show that we respect Mother Earth and all the life she supports.
♥ You can rest assured that your money is voting for ethical industry.♥