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The debate over genetically modified organisms has been on the rise for quite some time, but lately the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has issued a warning encouraging physicians to tell their patients to remove GMO foods from their diets.

GMOs are created in a laboratory and then injected into a food source. The injection contains a gene that carries a desirable trait, and is used to give that trait to another food source. This way, farmers are able to give their plants and animals characteristics that are more appealing to consumers.

At first biotechnology companies, such as Monsanto, promoted their biotech foods as a means to feeding those that are living in poverty and not receiving proper nutrients. The GMO food known as “golden rice” was thought to be the answer to malnutrition because it contained the vitamin beta-carotene needed for vitamin A production. Time Magazine stated that golden rice could help end blindness and death in countries that suffer heavily from vitamin A deficiencies.

On the contrary though, golden rice is not the golden ticket to ending world hunger. In fact, GMO foods have been found to do more harm than good.

Firstly, producing golden rice requires expensive amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, an expense that would not be affordable in developing countries.

Secondly, water is a major contributor to golden rice thriving, and in countries where vitamin A deficiency is prominent clean water is also usually scarce.

Thirdly, the amount of golden rice needed to properly nourish a healthy young boy is 27 bowls a day, but for a malnourished person the nutrients in golden rice may not even be properly digested in the body. One of Monsanto’s developments was a system known as the Terminator Technology, which genetically forms plant seeds that are sterile. Farmers in developing countries usually save seeds from fertile crops in order to produce their next batch of crops, with this Monsanto system farmers would suffer and potentially starve.

The Institute for Responsible Technology has found that GMOs are huge contributors to health problems, such as immune and gastrointestinal system problems, infertility, trouble with insulin balance and failing organs. The best possible method is to stay away from genetically modified foods. CNN offered a list of ways to keep your diet free of GMOs, some examples included:

  1.  Eating fresh produce, usually they are GMO free.
  2.  Buy foods with the non-GMO-verified seal, as food companies are not required to label that their foods contain GMO.
  3. Always buy wild seafood in order to avoid farm-raised and potentially GMO fish.

As for GMO foods’ relation to poverty, fresh is always healthier, cheaper, and more beneficial in terms of nutrients. GMO has been proven to not yield any higher amount of crops than organic and chemical free crops.

Becka Felcon

Sources: The Food Revolution, CNN, International Business Times, GMO Awareness
Photo: LA Times