Genetically modified (GM) foods have become very controversial over the years and labeling initiatives have been popping up in many states across the United States. Genetically modified foods are created by scientists who take foreign genes and insert them into any plant, animal or microorganism. There are two sides to the debate about whether or not genetically modified food is safe for human consumption. There are those that believe genetically modified foods are perfectly safe and they can help increase the food supply. Those that are against the genetic modification of foods believe that these types of foods can be highly dangerous to human health.
The United States is lacking on the labeling of GM foods, as 15 nations in the European Union, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Russia and China all have laws requiring the labeling of genetically modified foods. The U.S. FDA continues to believe that GM ingredients are “substantially equivalent” to conventionally grown foods, thus believing that labeling should not be required.
The use of genetically modified organisms in our foods has led to the creation of organic foods, which contain neither genetically modified organisms as well as harmful pesticides. Organic foods have become big business due to consumers taking charge of their health and wanting to avoid harmful additives and chemicals. Here is a list of 10 genetically modified foods you may not have known you were eating.
Genetically modified peas created quite the stir in 2005, when according to Science Daily, an Australian study showed that genetically modified peas created an allergic response on rats. Peas are often attacked by pea weevils. However, beans are not attacked by these pests due to a protein called α-amylase inhibitor. In order to genetically modify the peas, scientists took the pest resistant protein in beans and injected into beans. In 2013, German scientists revisited this GM pea case and concluded that rats had an allergic reaction to both non-GM and GM peas. Thus, leaving the public confused once again.
9. Vegetable Oils
Vegetable oils that are mainly used in processed foods are genetically modified. According to Mother Earth News, corn, soy and cotton seed oil are also genetically modified. These genetically modified ingredients used to produce the oils are mainly grown in the United States, China and India. Canada is known for its genetically modified canola crops and according to Eating Well, 93 percent of canola oil in the United States is genetically modified as well.
According to Mother Jones, 77 percent of papayas grown in Hawaii are now genetically modified. This occurred due to the crop becoming overrun by the ringspot virus during the 90’s. The solution to the virus was the rainbow papaya, which scientists genetically modified to be resistant to the destructive virus.
Many milk producers choose to use the genetically modified hormone, recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) in order to increase a cow’s milk production by 10 percent. According to the Organic Consumers Association, rBGH not only increases a cow’s milk supply, but it also increases the likeliness of reproductive complications.
In 2012, according to the UK Telegraph, researchers revealed that they were successful in creating a calf whose milk could be drunk by people who are lactose intolerant and they created a second animal whose milk contained high levels of healthy fat that is usually found in fish.
According to the Huffington Post, genetically modified zucchini is found in two different species in the United States. The zucchini species have been genetically modified to contain proteins that help protect it against viruses.
While you may not have eaten this frankenfish just yet, it looks like it is about to hit store shelves very soon. Genetically modified salmon will be best known as AquAdvantage salmon that is produced by bio-tech firm, AquaBounty Technologies. According to the Huffington Post, the genetically modified salmon is made from a gene from a Chinook salmon that is injected into an Atlantic salmon in order to ensure speedy growth and then a gene from an eel fish is injected in order to continue the gene from the Chinook salmon is continuously working on growth. Thus resulting in a market size fish in half of the time. According to Fox News, the FDA has already labeled the fish as safe to consume and it is not an environmental hazard, although many stores such as Kroger and Safeway have announced that they will refuse to sell the frankenfish.
Genetically modified tomatoes have been made to withstand a longer shelf life, thus reducing waste. However, according to Natural News, the safety of genetically modified tomatoes is still under suspect since some animal test subjects died weeks after consuming GM tomatoes.
3. Sugar Beets
According to Rodale News, 90 percent of sugar beets are genetically modified and 54 percent of sugar in the United States comes from sugar beets. In 2012, the USDA ruled that genetically modified sugar beets are perfectly safe and thus would no longer be regulated. This means that farmers and distributors can freely plant GM sugar beets wherever they please.
Soybeans are the second largest crop grown in the United States. According to the US Department of Agriculture, more than 90 percent of the soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified. This means they are genetically altered to be able to withstand herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup. Most of the soybeans produced in the U.S. are used for two things, animal feed and cooking oil.
The United States is the largest corn producer in the world and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture 85 percent of corn acreage in 2013 was genetically modified. Genetically modified corn is made to be herbicide and insect resistant. According to CBS News, genetically modified corn has become highly controversial since the 2012 research study conducted by biologist, Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini. The study was able to link genetically modified corn and Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide with tumor growth and death risk in rats. The study was contracted in 2013 despite the fact that there was no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation.