What is GMO, Anyway?
GMO stands for “genetically modified organisms”, and are typically plants or animals which have engineered DNA from other plants, animals, bacteria, or viruses. The hope behind GMOs is that we can produce foods that can withstand harsh environmental conditions and pesticides. Foods may also be genetically altered to be more nutrient-dense in order to help solve malnutrition problems.
Corn is one example of a common staple grain used both for human consumption as well as for animal feed. There are a few different modifications that we must be aware of in corn.
The first, “Roundup Ready Corn”, was developed by Monsanto in 1996 to withstand herbicides. There is also an insecticide-producing corn, which kills insects after ingestion. In 2013, Monsanto launched corn hybrid which can supposedly withstand droughts, which has been approved by the USDA and China.1
Why Is GMO Corn Bad?
There are a few obvious and hefty warnings against GMO corn (and GMO foods in general.) The first is simply that more than 60 developed countries ban or regulate GMO foods. Australia, Japan, and the European Union are amongst the ranks, while the U.S. is on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Most of the studies conducted in the U.S. are poorly constructed, and funded by the companies producing GMO foods. Most animal feeding studies have been short-term, and some lab studies have shown allergenic and toxic effects on livestock.
Aside from toxicity, some studies have shown that GMOs can cause renal and reproductive effects as well. Engineering foods to be toxic to insects may also be making them toxic to humans as well, and while millions of dollars have been spent on the development of nutritionally enhanced foods, they have yet to be proven safe to eat much less beneficial.2
Avoiding GMO Corn
Because 88% of all corn grown in the United States is GMO, it can be a challenge to avoid.3 Most foods with processed corn ingredients such as canned soups and frozen meals. Because GMO corn is so overly abundant in the U.S. you will also want to be careful with dairy products, baby formula, and meats, because cows and livestock are fed the genetically modified corn as well.
If you lead a relatively healthy lifestyle you probably try to avoid most high fructose corn syrup, but all other nutritional concerns aside, it is usually GMO as well.
The best way to avoid GMO corn is similar to eating healthy in general– eat whole, single-ingredient foods from trusted farms. The Non-GMO Project has an extensive directory of GMO-free brands and you can find another extensive list of SAFE foods right here on Live Love Fruit.
Whether you put effort into avoiding GMO foods or not, it’s important to be aware of potential risks involved so you can make an educated decision on what you fuel your body with.