GMO 101: Eating Healthy

1. What is GMO and why does it exist? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms and this means that an organism’s genetic material has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. Originally, the decision to start creating GMOs was based off the short term understanding that GMOs could help eliminate the need for pesticides, herbicides, increase the nutrient density of our foods or that they could even help feed starving populations.

2. Non-GMO - why should I care? The use of GMO’s in our food is actually a relatively new concept, as the science really is only about 20 years old. What this actually means, is that the long term research on the safety of GMOs both environmentally and for consumption actually isn’t there! We have all unknowingly been participants in large longitudinal studies with regards to the quality of our food supply for years. Only recently have scientific trials isolating the effects of the consumption of GMO foods shed light on the potential dangers and health impacts. There are reports stating that GMO consumption can contribute to rapid cellular replication and growth, leaky gut, autoimmune disorders, allergies and other digestive disturbances to name a few. The environmental impacts of GMOs have also actually been linked to lowered crop yields and higher usage of pesticides. It has now become more obvious that trying to outsmart Mother Nature on a large scale really might not have been the most well thought out idea we’ve had.

3. What are the three most commonly consumed GMO products? There is a wide array of commonly consumed GMO foods and it really does depend on where you live geographically, as well as what type of diet you follow culturally, as to which you might be consuming most. The traditional Canadian diet may see most often GMO corn, followed by Soy and one of our Canadian staple exports; Canola Oil. Common up and coming GMOs infiltrating the Canadian marketplace are also wheat and rice.

4. Is it easy to avoid GMO? It is easy to avoid GMO’s if when you purchase your food you ensure that it is all organic, as products that are certified organic, by definition, cannot contain GMOs. You can also look for the Non-GMO Project verified label on natural products to ensure there has been no seed/species modification. Otherwise, it is sad to say you are most likely coming in to contact with some form of a GMO on a daily basis. Corn ingredients and by-products are in more products that you would assume, disguised as ingredients such as maltodextrin or worse, high fructose corn syrup. Soy additives are also everywhere; the common emulsifier soy lecithin is in popular foods ranging from chocolate to salad dressings, although it is generally in small quantities. If you don’t feel as though eating strictly organic or Non-GMO Project Verified is attainable, you can always get to know your local farmers. Quite often farmers do abide by the Non-GMO/Organic regulations but they do not hold the certifications because the process can be quite costly. Also, municipalities across British Columbia are slowly binding together to declare themselves GE (Genetic Engineering) Free Zones; such amazing news! This means that 14 regions in BC prohibit the importing, exporting and growing of plants and seeds containing genetically engineered DNA, as well as the raising of GE animals. Here at Vitasave we’re beyond happy to report that our North Vancouver home was the 13th municipality to declare themselves GE free! That’s some great news worth spreading! Dana Johnston RHN, BSc. Hon. HK View a list of non-gmo verified products: To see the rest of GE free communities in BC click here:

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