We need to know about GMOs

Many Americans, unfortunately, are unaware of the dangerous effects genetically modified products can have on their health, and because of laws put in place, they don’t even know they are eating them.

Genetically modified organisms are products that have been unnaturally altered using DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. GMOs have been sold in the United States for more than 20 years.

The technology took off in the ’70s when scientists Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer invented genetic engineering. By the 1980s, corporations were working to obtain patents for organisms they genetically engineered, and in the 1990s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved GMO crops for commercial use.

Today, GMOs are present in 60 to 70 percent of U.S. foods, according to the Center for Food Safety. One of the largest issues with companies and food establishments using GMOs is that most people are unsure that what they are eating has not been pumped with harmful additives. Often, people unknowingly consume food that is harmful to their bodies.

The hidden dangers lurking behind GMO products can be devastating. Sometimes being vegan seems like the only option, but even with a diet that consists of mainly vegetables, it is still very likely to include GMOs regularly. Take into account the apples and oranges in the produce section at Wal-Mart. They are huge and sometimes seedless. It seems we cannot escape genetically altered foods.

According to nongmoshoppingguide.com, the problems that plants and crops experience because of genetic modifying include reacting to the weather differently, containing too many or too little nutrients, becoming diseased or malfunctioning and dying. Would it also be safe to say that what the plants and crops are experiencing could also happen to us?

The website also states the only feeding study done with humans showed GMOs survive inside the stomach of people eating the foods. Feeding studies in animals have resulted in precancerous cells, damaged immune systems and smaller brains among other issues.

Sixty-four developing and developed countries require GMO food labeling, according to Bill Freese at the Center for Food Safety. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require food companies to label foods containing GMOs. They practically tell us we do not have the choice to know what we are eating.

The interesting part is, we have allowed these changes to our food because we hear altered plants are more “bacteria resistant” or “keeps away bugs.” But what if, in all its organic ecosystem complexity, the bugs are essential to what make the food better for human consumption anyway? While the numbers of diabetes and cancer patients grow, people run to the pharmacy instead of the farmers. What is that old saying, “You are what you eat?”

But are we even asking what we are eating? We have a problem in the African-American community where we do not care what is in the food as long as it tastes good. The majority of us do not go that extra mile to really understand what we put on our plates.

It seems these days we do not focus on science as much as we should. This is an incredibly important issue, especially when it comes to GMOs. The community is already afflicted with rampant heart disease and diabetes. We need to be aware of what we put in our bodies.

Nevertheless, even if we do not read the label, if we are paying money to eat a product, we have the right to know if the ingredients have been tampered with. Across the country, there are bills called “Right to Know” that are aimed to require food companies to label any products that contain genetically modified organisms.

Many states are passing legislation that would force food providers to label GMOs, but the fight has been costly. While some states are making the change, others, such as Washington, are fighting to prevent it.

We have the right and personal duty to self and family to be aware of what is in our kitchen cabinets and freezers. Americans have to care enough about their health to rally together and cause a stir in Washington. We cannot let our taste buds rule us and ruin our health.