October is non-GMO month. What does that mean? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, which refers to the genetic engineering of a plant (or animal) by scientists. Many consumers are concerned about the impact of genetically engineered plants on the environment and on our bodies, and are fighting to make GMO labeling mandatory on product packaging.
Genetic engineering requires direct manipulation of the plant. Scientists splice isolated genes from another organism into the DNA of a plant (or animal) to create a particular outcome. For example, Monsanto spliced a pesticide-resistant enzyme from bacteria into soy, so that the soy became resistant to that pesticide. Many people worry about the long-term effects of this type of altered plant. No long-term testing of the impact of GMOs on the human body or environment is available yet.
Buying certified organic is the best way to avoid GMOs and to have an overall positive impact on our planet. The National Organic Program requires that no “synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering” are used on organic products. Buying organic also ensures the absence of many other negatives, including exposure to toxic chemicals (pesticides and herbicides), antibiotics and hormones, water pollution, soil erosion, and more.
Non-GMO month was started in 2010 by the Non-GMO Project to raise awareness about genetically engineered foods. High-potential GMO ingredients include conventional corn, canola, soy, beets, cotton, and derivatives such as malt, citric acid, maltodextrin, and soy lecithin.