Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were once promoted as the future of agriculture and the industry of food in general. With an increasing world population and the development of new technologies in the field of agroindustry, companies – especially the corporate giant Monsanto – presented options to increase productivity with plantations and cattle. Many plants and animals were genetically modified to better fit the model of productivity and convenience that was shaping the agroindustrial sector back then, and mostly still does today.
However, research shows that genetically modified food can be very harmful for our health. The reasons vary from case to case, and here we will quickly review the main hazards of genetically modified organisms when integrated into the human diet. Here is a list of our top picks for genetically modified food you should avoid for the sake of your health, as research suggests after years of scientific trials.
Soy is a widely consumed grain, especially in the Eastern world, and is widely regarded as a healthy aliment. Even though the actual nutritional and health benefits of soy are under scrutiny, what is true is that is has been an integral part of human diet in many ancient cultures, and is still widely consumed nowadays. However, soy is one of the most heavily genetically modified foods you can think of.
About 90% of soy that is currently cultivated and consumed in the world has been genetically modified, which means that it is almost for sure that you have consumed genetically modified soy and/or its subproducts many times in your life. Genetically modified soy is known to cause many health problems and has been especially linked to pancreas failure, which can be potentially deadly. If you want to eat soy, then you should buy only organic soy, and even then chances are the seeds will be genetically modified anyway.
Tomatoes are among the most heavily modified vegetables we can eat, and as such, they are a rising cause of concern among scientists and advocates of organic food alike. Genetically modified tomatoes have been found to have less nutritive properties than their organic counterparts; for example, they have fewer antioxidants, which means that they are less effective at helping our body regenerate and clean itself from its own metabolic waste.
Additionally, vegetables that grow outside of the soil can have many rests of pesticides, herbicides, and other poisonous substances, because those are more heavily used on genetically modified organisms. The DNA of these vegetables is altered so they resist the action of herbicides and pesticides, so these are sprayed once and again on tomatoes and other transgenic foods. They don’t kill the plant, but remain on its surface, and then, when we eat the fruit or vegetable, we eat the poison with it.
There are many concerns regarding genetically modified corn. Studies have linked GM corn to a number of health conditions, including problems with many organs and even an unwanted increase in body weight. For example, the consumption of genetically modified corn has been linked to problems with kidneys, which means that patients are not able to properly detoxify and filter the toxins from their blood.
It also causes liver complications. Heart disease and suprarenal gland disease have also been linked to the consumption of genetically modified corn. Finally, GM corn could be behind a number of spleen problems, which means that people who eat it are more likely to get infections and develop lymphatic problems. The kind of toxin that is used on genetically modified corn has already been found in the blood of pregnant women as well as their unborn babies, which is yet another sign of alarm for people’s health.
4. Sugar from Sugarbeets
The majority of the sugar that we eat, not only white sugar but also the sugar that is added to processed foods that we eat and consume every day, comes from sugar cane. However, around 35% of sugar that we consume every day comes from sugarbeets, a type of root with a high concentration of sucrose and other carbohydrates that are used as sweeteners in many recipes and food products.
Sugarbeets are highly modified, so much so that in many places of the United States their growing and distribution has been followed very closely by the law. Few people know that some of the sugar obtained from sugarbeets that we access today comes from farms that haven’t grown these plants legally, because of the GMO seeds they used. There has been quite a struggle between regulation entities, the governments, and companies pushing to legally distribute these products.
Aspartame has since long ago been regarded as one of the most dangerous components of food. Even if the substance itself is not the result of a genetically modified plant or animal, just like the other entries in this list, it is still produced through a process that involves genetically modified organisms. Namely, this chemical product that is used as a diet sweetener, because it has no calories unlike sugar, is produced with genetically modified bacteria that transform chemical substances.
The scientific community, in general, agrees that aspartame is a highly neurotoxic chemical, which means that it damages and even kills the neurons and other cells in our neurological system. Also, research shows contingent results proving that aspartame increases our likeability of developing certain types of cancer. Aspartame is widely used in many diet sweeteners as well as other diet processed foods and products for human consumption, but it should be avoided.
Perhaps genetically modified papayas aren’t as widespread as other genetically modified foods such as soy and corn, but a large number of papayas consumed in the United States are heavily modified. They are grown in Hawaii and carried to the rest of the United State for human consumption. Our neighboring country, Canada, also imports genetically modified papayas grown in Hawaii, in spite of all warnings.
However, those have been banned from the European Union due to some health concerns, so we could ask ourselves if we should be eating vegetables that have been banned from entire countries for that reason. Perhaps the most worrying aspect of genetically modified papayas that are widely available for human consumption in the United States is that they have DNA strains from a virus called the Ringspot virus, and whoever eats these vegetables is incorporating said strains of DNA into their own organism.
7. High fructose corn syrup
HFCS has been heavily criticized and warned against even without taking the genetic alterations into consideration. It is, in itself, a very unhealthy ingredient, even if at the beginning it was presented as a convenient and healthy replacement for traditional sweeteners such as regular sugar. The fructose that gives this food its name is a variant of sugar that is actually more difficult for our bodies to digest and process than glucose, the key component of regular sugar.
For this reason alone, the use of high fructose corn syrup has been advised against, but if we take the genetic modifications into consideration, then the risk of incorporating high fructose corn syrup to our diet increases even more. As stated above, corn is a highly modified aliment, and since HFCS is made of corn, all the potential damage this GM corn can do persist in the syrup.
8. Canola oil
This is yet another food that at the beginning was praised as a healthy alternative for more traditionally criticized foods such as sunflower oil. Canola is a plant with a bright yellow flower, and from its seeds oil can be obtained. Canola oil is said to have some good nutritious properties and is sometimes advised as a healthy replacement for traditional vegetable oils.
However, believe it or not, the plant of canola is poisonous for the human being. It takes a long process to extract the oil from the seeds and make it technically apt for human consumption. The process through which the oil is extracted and processed until it is ready for legal commercialization includes many chemical actions, including chemical waste, that could leave residues that will potentially harm your health. Canola has been genetically modified to endure other poisonous substances such as pesticides and herbicides.
9. Chicken and beef
Organic farms often have free ranges where animals roam free and live their lives until it is time for them to hit the butcher. However, a different model of farms is more cost-effective, makes more money, and therefore is preferred by many meat producers. In order to increase their revenue and maximize the weight of the product they can get from their animals, breeders implement a series of genetic modifications and bioengineering techniques on cows and chicken.
It is common for them to inject animals with growth hormones that are patented by a certain company, in order to get more meat. Studies show that these hormones produce tumors and other disorders in the bodies of those animals. Also, they are often fed with plants such as corn and alfalfa that are already genetically modified, so they pass on the herbicides, pesticides and other toxic substances that get stored in their own meat.
The bioengineering techniques used on cattle are not limited to increasing the productivity of meat. With hormone injections, such as the recombinant bovine growth hormone patented by Monsanto, breeders can make animals bigger and fatter, yielding more meat that they can later sell. Variants of growth hormones are also used on cows to increase the production of milk.
However, this does have some negative consequences, not only on the animal itself, which is more prone to certain disorders and health problems but also on the milk that is later distributed for human consumption. Cows injected with growth hormones are more likely to have mastitis, which is an inflammation of the udders. Milk coming from cows with mastitis is more likely to have infectious agents, including traces of blood and even pus. It is better for our health to eat dairy products coming from organic farms where these methods are not used.