Do You Know Nutrition: Invasion of the genetically modified organisms

Oct. 11, 2011 at 5:11 a.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

By Phylis Canion

Sometime back, you had a timeline about GMOs. Can you please explain more about what GMOs are, how they affect our food supply, and names of product ingredients that we need to be aware of?

GMOs are genetically modified organisms (also called GEs, genetically engineered) plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology.

According to the Non GMO Project, this experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding. Virtually all commercial GMOs are bred to withstand direct application of herbicides.

In more than 30 countries around the world, including all of the European countries and Japan, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production of GMOs because they do not consider them safe.

In the United States, however, the government has approved commercial production of GMOs based on studies conducted by companies who created them and profit from their sales.

The six major GMO crops are soy, corn, canola, cotton, sugar beets and alfalfa. Specific ingredients to look for on product labeling that should be avoided are the following: soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed soy protein, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, monosodium glutamate, dextrose, modified food starch, corn syrup, sugar syrup, malt, mono and di-glycerides and rBGH(a recumbent growth hormone added to milk and butter), to name a few of the most prevalent.

One of the major issues concerning genetically modified organisms is that there is no labeling requirements that specifically states a product contains GMOs although they make up approximately 1/4 of our food supply.

Those manufacturers whose products do not contain GMOs gladly list on their packaging that the product is GMO free or that it is a NON-GMO product.

Because GMOs are relatively new and have not been in use long enough for the risk to be known, there is growing concerns about safety.

According to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified foods that include infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation and issues with the gastrointestinal system.

The World Health Organization has also taken an active role in the evaluation of genetically modified foods.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant; email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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