What Is GMO Free? Ireland!

November 16, 2011

Ireland has made a move to ban genetically modified (GM) foods, in an effort to support those who want a GMO free option as well as to support Irish farmers.

Genetically modified foods are subsidized in countries like the US, making it hard for places like Ireland to compete, especially when those GM crops are coupled with harsh pesticides and herbicides (one of the main reasons crops are modified).

Banning GM crops will allow Ireland to provide higher quality food, giving countries like the US more sources for GM-free ingredients to meet rising demands of an increasingly food-aware culture. However, the ban is still new, and it’s expected that Monsanto, the leading producer of GM crops will challenge the law, as they’ve done in the past in other countries.

How Are Foods GeneticallGenetically Modifiedy Modified?

“Genetically modified” is a term that is distinguished from traditional methods of horticulture. Traditional methods might be to select the best or biggest plant from a certain round of seeds, or to physically splice two plants together.

Some of that sort of work is still done today, except instead of selecting for quality, they might select for a factor like pest-resistance (which plant did the bugs eat the least?). After several rounds of this, you might have a crop that bugs won’t eat—because it’s highly mutagenic.

More often “genetically modified” refers to food crops that have their genes spliced with DNA from another organism in a lab. Again, one of the main goals is pesticide and herbicide endurance in the plant. Like antibiotics, herbicides and pesticides are losing efficacy, so stronger and stronger versions are required. To keep them from harming the plants, and to increase efficacy, the crops are genetically modified to endure, and in some cases absorb the chemicals.

What Foods Are Genetically Modified?

Corn and soy are two of the biggest offenders, and are in almost all prepackaged foods.

There are other reasons put forth to avoid high fructose corn syrup (or “corn sugar”, as it’s now called), but the likelihood of it being genetically modified is the best reason. Corn is in everything because it’s heavily subsidized, and it’s subsidized with genetically modified crops in many cases.

What Is GMO Free?

GMO-free labels are being introduced in other countries, although given the US’s kerfuffle over hormone free labels, I wouldn’t expect to be seeing a GMO-free label on US products anytime soon.

Instead, look for products that are certified organic (organic produce has a 9 at the beginning of its plu code).

What strategies do you use when grocery shopping for your family?


Emma Spera November 22, 2011 at 11:49 am

Most of the pro-GMO reasoning is along the lines of feeding the world—growing crops faster and more abundantly.

Unfortunately, most of the genetically modified crops are designed with pesticides and herbicides in mind, rather than higher quality food-stuffs. So not only are chemicals used intensively in their growing, but get absorbed in their skin to help farmers protect their crops.

A couple studies have found that their may be ill-effects to eating GM foods (the leading GM food producer funds most research, so finding non-biased third party studies starts to become a problem):

On a partial GM diet, hamsters not only started to show genetic mutations (fur in weird places) but became infertile after three generations.

In humans, GM foods may be responsible for the amount of chemicals that have been found in the umbilical cord and breast milk of pregnant women.

Beth November 21, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I’m a little confused by all of the information about GMO. Will it harm me if I eat it? There seem to be many arguments against its use, but no counter information from a pro-GMO point of view to provide a legitimate and healthy discussion from both sides of the issue. I don’t like to make decisions based solely from one point of view.

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