What’s the Deal with GMOs?

shelling corn cobs at a farm

GMOs: The least you need to know.

GMOs, aka genetically modified organisms, will either save or end the world, depending on who you ask. One thing’s for sure, there’s a lot to say on this hot topic. Here’s our attempt at trimming this mountain down to a molehill.

What the heck are they?

Let’s say you’re a farmer with a pumpkin patch, and you take only the seeds of the largest pumpkins and you plant them the next year in hopes of getting only really big-ass pumpkins (so you can sell more than your neighboring farmer friend). Well, that’s not GMO. That’s called selective breeding, and it’s totally fair game.

Let’s say instead you take a pumpkin seed, remove some of its DNA, scramble up the code to tell it to do things like guzzle more water and eat up more nutrients through go-go gadget roots, and develop a slippery protective coat that bugs can’t land on, and you wind up growing a pumpkin the size of a house. That, my friends, is genetic modification. (And “so not fair!” says your neighbor.)

GMOs cannot occur in nature. Scientists must manually splice the genes (aka, rewrite the DNA instructions) of plants or animals in order to make them grow bigger, taste different, have a better nutritional profile, repel insects and herbicides, and other stuff.

Some would claim this is awesome, because, duh you’ve got larger, more nutritious pumpkins and can now feed a hungry world (and with pumpkin pie, no less!). Others, would argue that you’re “playing God” since this would never have occurred in nature, and just imagine if things got weird, and they started making giant flying pigs. Yikes.

Which foods are GMO?

Some foods are GMOs themselves; others are cross-pollinated (i.e. corn seed blows into a neighboring farm) or cross-contaminated (i.e. flour mixes with GMO flour residue on equipment). Some estimates suggest 80% of foods grown in the US contain GMOs. Most consumers aren’t aware of this.

Most common GMO sources:

Soy corn canola
beets canola squash (zucchini, yellow)
cotton

 

GMO ingredients are often hidden in:

amino acids ascorbic acid vitamin C MSG
aspartame sodium ascorbate citric acid sucrose
sodium citrate high fructose corn syrup molasses textured vegetable protein

 

Foods that are monitored for risk:

chard Siberian kale mizuna
beets bok choy Chinese cabbage
rutabaga turnip rapini
tatsoi squash (acorn, delicata) patty pan
wheat flax rice

 

Animal products that are often cross-contaminated: milk, meat, eggs, honey

Are organic foods non-GMO?
Most likely. Organic food companies are not allowed to knowingly plant GM seed, but organic certification does not require testing. This means organic foods are much less likely to contain GMOs, but they still need to be verified to be sure.

Are GMOs bad for you?

The short answer is, we’re not really sure. Most GMOs are probably harmless. Proponents boast about incredible applications like growing bananas that come packaged with the flu vaccine (No joke. So cool.) But the truth is, genetic modification is a relatively new type of biotechnology, and the jury’s still out on how they impact our health and the environment. It’s kind of like a giant experiment at the moment.

At Nourish Snacks, we believe going “no or pro” GMO is a personal choice and we support full transparency on food labels. This way, you can check the package and at least know when you’re eating them. After all, unless your broccoli starts growing it’s own cheese topping, there’s no way to tell just by looking at your food whether it’s GMO or not.

About the ‘Non-GMO Project’

Since the government has no regulations on GMOs, a group of retailers got together and created this non-profit organization called The Non-GMO Project. They test and label products with the goal of increasing non-GMO foods in the marketplace. Labeling educates consumers, so consumers will demand more non-GMO products. Currently, it’s the only organization with independent verification of testing of products in the US & Canada.

Nourish Snacks and Non-GMO

All of the snacks at Nourish are inherently non-GMO. We are enrolled with the Non-GMO Project, and all of our snacks will soon bear the Non-GMO Verified logo. You can check which ones are already sporting the seal here.


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