Natural-Habitats
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GMOs: Be Informed

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10 May 2013

GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology. Engineering of DNA from different species creates breeds that will not occur in natural settings.
There are a variety of crops present on the market, which are primarily produced as modified. It is important to be aware, which ones are at high risk, and therefor more important to buy organic.

In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. GMOs may not only bear health risks, but also have negative effect on farmers, because once they buy a seed from engineering company, they have to buy their seeds every year.

Moreover, they also have to buy chemical fertilizers to go with those modified seeds. With presenting GMOs and chemical herbicides to farmers, weed started to adapt to herbicides and by now became resistant to it, which means farmers have to buy even more of herbicide from biotech companies in order to fight weed. In addition, there is an intensive marketing/sales work done by biotech companies, which forces farmers to buy modified seeds. Once they start using such seeds, they are "glued" to those companies.

Organic and non-organic seeds cannot co-exist, because organic seed becomes contaminated straight away. (Michael Hart ) That is why one of the conditions to receive an organic certification, is to ensure strict physical separation of organic farms from non-organic ones. For example, Natural Habitats palm plantations in Ecuador have no physical proximity with contaminated plants.

Overall, palm oil and palm kernel oil are GM free so far (Greenpalm.org ), but several attempts were taken in Malaysia in order to create a modified palm tree.The palm oil of Natural Habitats is proved to be GM free by Non-GMO project .

Debates are going on about the effect of GMOs on humans. There is an opinion that GMOs save us from hunger and from another point of view, GMOs are harmful, non-essential way of growing food, which causes severe illnesses rates to go up and benefits only biotech companies. Despite the debates, it is important that food is labeled, whether it contains GMO or not, because people have a right to decide on their own if they want to consume such a food. Since GMO’s are not labeled properly so far, those who are concerned should be aware which crops and ingredients are at high risk to contain modified organisms.

Therefore, below we provide some information on products, which are mostly grown in non-organic way. All the data below is taken from the Non-GMO project, a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. In table 1, we list the most high-risk crops and common ingredients derived from GMOs.

Products below are not yet conquered by the biotech companies, but were and are attempted to. It is better to track them from time to time, if something has changed. Check list below, for the products, which are highly likely to become modified, but so far have a status of a low-risk:
Tomatoes: In 1994, genetically modified Flavr Savr tomatoes became the first commercially produced GMOs. They were brought out of production just a few years later, in 1997, due to problems with flavor and ability to hold up in shipping. There are no genetically engineered tomatoes in commercial production, and tomatoes are considered “low-risk” by the Non-GMO Project Standard.
Potatoes: Genetically modified NewLeaf potatoes were introduced by Monsanto in 1996. Due to consumer rejection several fast-food chains and chip makers, the product was never successful and was discontinued in the spring of 2001. There are no genetically engineered potatoes in commercial production, and potatoes are considered “low-risk” by the Non-GMO Project Standard.
Wheat: There is not currently, nor has there ever been, any genetically engineered wheat on the market. Of all “low-risk” crops, this is the one most commonly (and incorrectly) assumed to be GMO. It is a key commodity crop, and the biotech industry is pushing hard to bring GMO varieties to market. The Non-GMO Project closely watches all development on this front.
Salmon: A company called AquaBounty is currently petitioning the FDA to approve its genetically engineered variety of salmon, which has met with fierce consumer resistance.
Pigs: A genetically engineered variety of pig, called Enviropig was developed by scientists at the University of Guelph, with research starting in 1995 and government approval sought beginning in 2009. In 2012 the University announced an end to the Enviropig program, and the pigs themselves were euthanized in June 2012.

What is your opinion on GMOs?

Let us know!

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