Home What Are You Eating? The Problem With Genetically Modified Foods

The Problem With Genetically Modified Foods

by Erika Nicole Kendall

When I talk about fruits and vegetables, there are a lot of things I know to be bonafide fact.

When I say that fruits and vegetables are naturally chock full of the nutrients that the body needs to heal and nourish itself, I know that for a fact.

When I say that fruits come naturally paired with both sugar – which energizes the body – as well as fiber – which forcefully tempers your intake of the sugar – in a way that protects the body from its brain, I know that for a fact.

When I say that nature pairs “the poison” with “the antidote” in our naturally occuring and naturally grown foods, I know that for a fact.

…but when it comes to genetically engineered foods, very little is for certain.

The nutritional value? Questionable. The damage to the environment? Questionable. The harm caused to the human body? Again, questionable.

Yet again, this stuff is everywhere. Don’t believe me? Here’s something to think about:

  • 93% of all soybeans used in the United States? Genetically modified versions.
  • 77% of all of the soybeans grown in the world… genetically modified.
  • 86% of all the corn grown in the United States? Genetically modified.
  • 93% of all of the cotton – think cottonseed oil, animal food – grown here is genetically modified.
  • 93% of all of the US’s rapeseed/canola oil? GMOs.

If 93% of all of the soybeans grown in the US are of genetically modified origin and 60% of all processed foods contain soy, where the hell are they? Look at your processed food labels… it’s in the ingredients list. Soybean oil (partially hydrogenated, or otherwise). Soy lecithin. Soy infant formula. Soy meat replacements. Soy protein. Soy milk. Vegetable oil. For goodness sakes… tofu. It’s there. Soybean oil, in all its inexpensive prevalence, accounts for 10% of one’s caloric intake in the United States if they’re processed food eaters! The stuff is everywhere.

One of the original purposes of modifying the genetic code of our food was to increase the ability of the seeds to produce larger yields as well as minimizing the amount of pesticide use required to protect the yield. Making the food undesirable to pests means less of the crops that would be eaten up before the yield could be harvested.

First and foremost, I’ve written about this – both humans as well as those very bugs and rodents subsist on the very same vitamins and minerals. It doesn’t make sense for humans to be ingesting en masse something that they don’t want.

You know how, if you leave food sitting out, it will attract flies? Why? Because flies and rodents are attracted to the same things that our bodies are attracted to in food – nutrients. Ever notice that with ALL the food in a supermarket, there’s rarely any ants or bugs in the aisles, but you have to swat them away from the tomatoes or kiwi in the produce area? That’s not because every area in the grocery store – except the produce – is sprayed down. I can only offer theory as to why that is. For starters, the processed foods have to be processed to maintain shelf life. They have to be able to handle being transported to the facility. They have to be able to withstand sitting on a shelf until purchased. They have to be able to withstand sitting in your cabinets until you cook them.Can you do that with your home made cooking? I doubt it.

Secondly… even though GMOs set out with very ambitious goals, they’ve done more harm than good. Studies have shown that farmers have actually resorted to using far more pesticides in order to protect GMO crops, and they actually don’t, in fact, increase the size of the crop able to be harvested. So we’ve introduced double the original foreign chemical substance to our soils – the very soils that grow all of our crops – and the only thing it has done is provided us with nutritionally deficient foods that have oversaturated our food market as a whole. Even if you don’t cook processed foods at home, is your favorite restaurant frying or cooking your foods in canola, vegetable or soybean oils?

Thirdly – and this is of the utmost importance to me – can we talk about the cost of the foods that contain these products? Foods that are genetically modified with questionable nutritive value, made inexpensively and easily available, grown in excess thus making it cheap as hell, used for various reasons in processed foods – because, let’s face it… the best way to turn a profit is to take the cheapest items available and manipulate them into much more valuable resources (think of how a kernel of corn is turned into high fructose corn syrup) – and marketed prominently to turn a profit? These items are cheap as hell and are marketed to the working poor as a way of profiting off of those least likely to know better or have access to better…

…and then we wonder why an influx of diseases that are easily cured by regular naturally occurring foods are reappearing. Because the people least likely to have adequate (or any) health care are eating foods that are genetically modified to be less-than-appealing and less-than-nutritive, leaving them far more susceptible to illness… because they can’t afford the foods they need, and the foods they can afford are lacking severely.

All of this uncertainty… and food is always supposed to be a sure thing. Food should always be simple… a sure thing. You care for the Earth, treat the soil well, you get good and healthful food in response. Clean eating is, by definition… a sure thing. There’s very little that’s up for debate when you’re eating as cleanly as possible. Clean eating ensures sustainability – you eat close to the source, you eliminate waste, you cause minimal damage to the environment in which you/your children/their children live and love. It might feel like “too much” to care about the environment, but look at how that cycle starts – you care for the Earth by inadvertently caring for yourself.

I say all of this to say… clean eating is something very qualifiable. It’s quantifiable. Genetically engineered and modified foods are, in fact, not… and until they are? Consider leaving them out of your grocery cart.

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16 comments

Serenity February 15, 2011 - 1:19 PM

Agreed.

Stick to food that is in season, unprocessed or grown by someone you know.

It’s our own faults, though. We want what we want when we want it. We want the food seedless and convenient. And we pay for it in the end.

Heather V. February 15, 2011 - 3:46 PM

I agree. I am getting better at eating raw organic foods, but still have a way to go. As I enter the home stretch in my weight loss, I am noticing that I have to be even more diligent and observant of what I eat and the source.

Danielle February 17, 2011 - 9:45 AM

Everyone needs to watch Food Inc !

Tiana February 17, 2011 - 11:49 AM

I agree!! That movie is what actually jump started me into changing my habits and what I eat and taking it seriously and sticking with it…it was shocking!

Danielle February 20, 2011 - 7:38 PM

yea – today i had a veggie plate for lunch at work, because i only want organic meat (did you see those chickens take 2 steps then fall down defeated because they couldn’t walk?!). that is such a change for me- like i used to not cook if there wasn’t a meat to go with it- there needed to be meat at every meal! at fish and shrimp didnt count!

Queen July 10, 2011 - 4:25 PM

I have been preaching about this exact thing for years now! All the foods that I cook for my clients as well as on my show are cooked with foods grown out of my garden or a known organic gardener. Also, dont go buy seeds to grow yourself without researching first! Even the seeds are GMO’s! You should specifically look for seeds that say No GMO or harvest your own! Since serving non GMOs to clients on a regular basis as well as instructing them on how to buy, Ive had clients lower blood pressure and cholesterol, clear skin, and have more energy and brain power.
Im glad you wrote this. THis is definitely something we should all think about if we expect to be healthier and live longer!

Annette May 1, 2012 - 4:18 PM

I heard about the soybean a la Tofu which I love. I have been weening myself off by using almond milk or coconut milk As for the oil using sesame, olive and coconut oils.

It scares me about the corn is that the corn they feed to their cows. No wonder everything is so messed up. Farms use to be run by Mom’s and Pops who were barely getting by. Now it’s big corporations that are mass producing.

I don’t know if it was there intention but I feel that we are corralled like cattle..they engineer the food, they have diet programs or other things as fixes. It’s like it’s a vicious circle. They have us as consumers running for one program to the next, round and round we go. Lack of quality products all in the name or extraordinary profits. There is nothing wrong with making a profit yet they put people’s life at risk. Just don’t know what the genetically engineer food is lacking that our body needs. Could be the reason why people are overeating to fill up on missing nutrients.

My cravings are much less eating a variety of fruits and veges. Whenever I have a craving I try to figure out what my body is missing now and take supplements or the fruit or vegetable that will supply it. Sometimes we are just missing nutrients cause we work out a lot. Don’ drink enough water, starving our bodies.

Jame (@jameane) July 12, 2012 - 3:15 AM

If you are in California, look for Hodo Soy products. They use organic non-gmo soy to make their tofu, soy milk, and some other soy stuff (chocolate pudding, tofu nuggets, yuba strips). Besides that? It is literally the best tofu ever. My local restaurants specify when they use it on the menu. 😀

Clean Eddy » Sausage, Kale & Tomato Salad November 27, 2012 - 3:45 PM

[…] 2 teaspoons of canola oil (organic is the only kind that’s likely to be non-GMO) […]

DNLee April 27, 2013 - 4:55 PM

I thnk you’re conflating processing and generic modification of food.
food processing involves mechanically & sometimes Chemically altering food products in a way to reduce or delay spoilage. Processing absolutely robs food of important vitamins and nutrients. Leaving food whole requires means risk of loss to spoilage or infestation.

“both humans as well as those very bugs and rodents subsist on the very same vitamins and minerals. It doesn’t make sense for humans to be ingesting en masse something that they don’t want” hmm..this assumes that people are by & large comfortable competing with rodents and insects for food. Pretty much the course of human history has been trying to not to lose food to bacteria, roaches, and mice.
I’m not buying that people are comfortable with the idea that because food gets moldy and decays that it means we want it more.
There are entire industries & technologies that help us keep our food longer – canning, pressure cooking, smoking, salting << all of these all-natural & old school. More modern we have ziplock bags, those veggie bags, Tupperware, etc.

Being able to eat nearly fresh fruits & veggies – even non GMO, rests on the assumption that you can access those items in the quantities and qualities you want whenever you want. We just can do that sustainably now. Those of us who can must acknowledge the privilege we exercise in that choice.
It also mans time – shopping more often, assuming produce is available…more time cooking. We're more busy outside of the home than ever before. These ideas just won't jibe with our current way of life on a wide scale.
Some people will be able to live the life, many of us won't.
I want better too. We al need to eat less processed foods, but it's easier said than done for some people.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 27, 2013 - 9:22 PM

“hmm..this assumes that people are by & large comfortable competing with rodents and insects for food. Pretty much the course of human history has been trying to not to lose food to bacteria, roaches, and mice.”

I think there’s a difference between “being comfortable” with competition, and trying to preserve that which you’ve already safely acquired. To think that people stand between the choice of having to compete for resources and having processed food…. only highlights the falseness of the choice, especially considering how we’re not talking about foods with equal nutrition. If you can acknowledge that extruder guns and puffers affect the nutritive quality of a food, then you can acknowledge the problem with thinking there’s an actual choice to be made.

But this isn’t about processed foods, though I understand where you believe the conflation is taking place.

I’ve spent a lot of time delving into the details of why eating fresher is so challenging for some, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is necessary, and that necessity only further illustrates the importance of ALL of us understanding the fullness of the problems. The more it becomes a societal priority, the easier it becomes for us to support real change that makes it easier for all of us.

The challenge of GMOs, like I said earlier, is how little we actually do know about them, and it’s easier to step back and say “I’ll embrace it when I know more” than it is to say “YOLO.” We’re not talking cross-pollination; we’re talking changing genetic codes that result in patented life. That’s new, and problematic. I’m familiar with a lot of the anti-GMO conversation out there, and though I’m not fully convinced of all of its validity, I think that taking steps backwards to say “wait a minute” make sense, especially when we are talking about our health. Like I said, I think it’s fair to harbor healthy apprehension, for a multitude of reasons.

Janelli July 28, 2014 - 12:39 AM

I am an old, but wise, white-haired woman who has spent years studying this subject.

There is a huge difference between the selective breeding and cross-pollinating that can be done in a green house and the gene splicing that can only be done in a lab. Monsanto has added the chemical make-up of pesticides and herbicides to the genes of some of our food. They have also made crops resistant to herbicides and pesticides so they can dump as much of these poisons as they want on our food and the food crops will not die. This, by the way, has more than doubled the profits of companies like Dow that make these toxins.
THE PURPOSE OF GENETIC MODIFICATION HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH CROP YIELD. IT MEANT THAT COMPANIES LIKE MONSANTO COULD PATENT ALL OF THEIR SEEDS CREATED IN LABS.
* THIS MEANS THAT FARMERS NO LONGEER HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAVE THEIR SEEDS FOR NEXT YEAR, AND HAVE TO BUY NEW SEEDS EVERY YEAR.
*IF POLLEN FROM A GMO FARM BLOWS INTO AN ORGANIC FARM AND INFECTS THE ORGANIC FARMER’S CROPS, MONSANTO COULD SUE THE FARMER AND TAKE AWAY HIS FARM.
*IN SOME PLACES NON-GMO FARMERS ARE THREATENED IF THEY DO NOT SWITCH TO GMO SEED.
*IF THERE IS NOTHING DONE TO PROTECT NON-GMO GROWERS, SOON ALL OF OUR CROPS WILL BE CONTAMINATED.
*BEES AND BUTTEFLIES THAT FEED ON THEM DIE. WITHOUT POLLINATORS, THE RESULT WOULD BE FAMINE.
*RATS FED SEVERAL GMO FOODS, INCLUDING SALMON, HAVE DEVELOPED CANCER.
*GMO FOOD DOES NOT HAVE THE NUTRIENTS THAT NATURE MADE FOOD HAS.
*SUSTAINABLE FARMING PRACTICES OF NATURE MADE CROPS PRODUCE HIGHER YIELDS THAN GMO CROPS.

WHAT IF MONSANTO AND A FEW OTHER CHEMICAL COMPANIES HAD PATENTS ON EVERY SEED IN THIS COUNTRY OR THE WORLD? CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT KIND OF POWER THEY WOULD HAVE?
THEY ARE CONSTANTLY INTRODUCING MORE AND MORE GENETICALLY ALTERED FOOD, SO THAT ISN’T AN IMPOSSIBILITY.

Selene June 25, 2013 - 8:52 AM

So is soy a no-no all together? I’ve been trying to cut back on my dairy (because of the problems it gives my stomach), but I love (Greek) yogurt. So I gave the Silk brand of yogurt a try. I’m just confused on this whole soy thing. I once thought it was safe, now I’m not so sure.

Erika Nicole Kendall June 25, 2013 - 3:53 PM

In the context of GMO, you’d just need to go organic.

There are tons of different kinds of strained yogurts. Don’t feel confined to soy or cow. 🙂

Kami October 5, 2013 - 10:15 AM

Even though I stick to organic soy it still does not agree with me. Afterwards I been starting to get digestive issues from it. THe gastro doctor say to take it out my diet. My favorite is to use cashew milk . Do you have a recipe for it?

Most of the food that I purchase is from farmers markets and coops. Now I cannot enjoy going out for food sometimes. All these restaurants should start admitting that they use genetically modified foods.

Delbert Scott December 17, 2016 - 4:57 AM

Great article Erika! It’s so amazing that we as American are a nation of consumers and we like what we like regardless of the end results. The fact that we cannot even trust our own government on this matter is a crying shame. Keep up the good work!

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