There is a fair amount of GMO-related buzz happening these days. Sourcing! Labeling! Biotech! “GMO-free”! How much do you actually know about this issue? Should you look into avoiding GMOs?
What Does GMO Mean?
For starters, the term “GMO” refers to genetically modified organisms. This may also be referred to as genetic engineering.These are plants or animals created in a laboratory through the gene-splicing techniques of biotechnology. This allows DNA from one species to be merged with another species through injection or crossbreeding, creating new combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that cannot occur in nature. Glyphosate-resistant crops are an example of this. Through unifying crops like corn and soy with the target enzyme EPSPS, these crops have become resistant to herbicides like Round Up.
This modifying process has already happened with the majority of corn, canola, soy, alfalfa, potato, papaya, sugar beet, and zucchini that are commercially produced.
The Food and Drug Administration published an article in 2022 that includes data on GMO percentages in crops we consume every day.
Data from the US Food and Drug Administration
The public availability of GMOs is growing faster than consumer knowledge about them! You have a right to know more about GMOs.
Why Genetically Modify an Organism?
So, why would laboratories use biotechnology to gene-splice DNA? The majority of GMOs have been created to resist herbicide application or to produce their own insecticides. This enables farmers to utilize efficient weed killers that do not kill the crops they are producing. For farmers, this means they can focus less on weed and insect control and more on their crop yields. By cultivating herbicide-resistant crops, farmers can save money and time as well as the number of pesticides used on their produce.
Reasons to Avoid GMOs
Long story short, we don’t know the long-term impact of GMOs on human, soil, or environmental health. Conflicting information can be overwhelming, but there are many strong reasons to further research current GMO use. We do know that the use of toxic herbicides, such as Roundup, has increased tenfold since GMOs were first introduced. In 2015, the World Health Organization determined that the herbicide glyphosate (a key ingredient in Roundup) is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
More than 80% of genetically modified crops grown worldwide have been engineered for herbicide tolerance. We might assume, then, that these same crops are being sprayed with potentially hazardous herbicides.
Over time, weeds have become resistant to herbicides like Roundup, so there’s been a call for stronger toxins to be used, like 2,4-D. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the midst of performing a 15-year review of 2,4-D, but the long-term health effects remain unknown. There have been speculations that it can affect fertility or increase the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for those exposed more than 20 days per year. Although the commercial farmers working with the herbicides are at highest risk, a report published in 2017 stated that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had found residue of 2,4-D in food samples. For instance, 14.1% of imported grain samples violated the permitted rate of residues followed by 12.5% of imported vegetables. In terms of domestic commodities, 9.4% of vegetables analyzed violated the regulated level of residue levels.
The effect of herbicides, like Roundup and 2,4-D, on the environment and surrounding wildlife is also a cause for concern. With the increased use of 2,4-D, it was noted that the EPA did not properly assess the harm inflicted on Monarch butterflies. Additionally, GMOs have been shown to kill beneficial insects like bees and other butterflies along with the bad ones, also called pests.
To sum it up, GMOs are allowed for commercial production in the US, and there is no federally mandated law to help consumers identify them or products made from them.
The Non-GMO Project
We know GMOs are out there, but how can we know if we are putting them into our bodies or feeding them to our loved ones? With all of these looming unknowns, the Non-GMO Project is here to provide an easy way to identify and purchase Non-GMO foods.
The Non-GMO Project is a mission-driven third-party verification program created in 2007. Their goal is simple: clearly label products that are confirmed to avoid GMO risk from seed to shelf. Enrolled products undergo an intense approval process and are required to adhere to rigorous standards set by dozens of experts on the Non-GMO Project Verified team.
With the United States being the leader in genetically bioengineered produce and accounting for around 40% of global GMO crops, the Non-GMO Project Verified butterfly is something you may want to look out when you shop!
What Does Non-GMO Mean?
The best way to explain “Non-GMO” is with the term “avoidance.” The truth is, no product can be certified 100% GMO-free. This is due to limited testing methodology, supply-chain complexities and uncontrollable seed, crop, and ingredient contamination. However, the Non-GMO Project Verified badge on a product means use of third-party verified best avoidance manufacturing practices. The Non-GMO Project team analyzes a company’s product formulas, ingredients, and manufacturing standard operating procedures such as traceability, segregation, ingredient procurement, certificates of analysis and more, to ensure they are in avoidance of GMOs.
Now you may be thinking, what is the difference between Non-GMO and certified organic? Well, organic certifications are run directly through the government. Organic standards determine how animals are raised, how crops are grown, and how pests are treated. Organic products are GMO-avoidant, but the government does not perform ongoing testing to ensure the quality of these products or practices is being maintained. The Non-GMO Project works to build on the National Organic Program (NOP) to further test risky ingredients. There is also a strict annual renewal process in place to ensure each company is continuing to use their Non-GMO formulas and practices.
How to Find Non-GMO Supplements
The Non-GMO Project in collaboration with New Chapter® makes finding Non-GMO supplements easy for you! The majority of our vitamins and supplements are Non-GMO Project Verified and are labeled accordingly.
- Single nutrients
- Calcium and more
When you are in the grocery store, look for the orange Monarch butterfly and you will know you are purchasing products that are GMO avoidant. Additionally, some companies label their products as “Non-GMO” based on their own internal specifications, which is also helpful.
How to Find Non-GMO Foods
Checking labels is important! Look for GMO alternatives and reference the Non-GMO Project website for an extensive list of enrolled companies and their verified products.
You can also keep an eye out for the crops that are most likely to be GMO. Most packaged goods contain ingredients derived from corn, soy, canola, and sugar beet and the majority of these are genetically modified. Other items you will want to check are eggs, milk, honey, and seafood because of the genetically engineered ingredients in animal feed.
The Bottom Line
New Chapter has been a pioneering advocate of the Non-GMO movement for years, and we’re proud to partner with the Non-GMO Project and support their important work. We were one of the first companies to have products enrolled in the project and we continue to uphold high standards for our products. Since 1982, we’ve been committed to making supplements you can trust and that are good for you and the environment. We call that wellness, well done.