Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:00 AM PST
You probably want to know what's actually in what you're eating, right? Of course you do. That's probably why you read the ingredients label. But even if you're making responsible choices, there still might be more to that meal than you realize. There's a movement that's trying to keep you in the dark about genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), not to mention a host of other nasties in your food. You'll want to stick around while I tell you seven things that you should really know about GMOs.
1. A lot of money is being spent to make sure you don't get labeled food.
Giant corporations like Dupont and Monsanto spent millions of dollars recently in Colorado and Oregon to thwart labeling campaigns that would list genetically-modified ingredients.  In Colorado, for example, these two giants outspent supporters of GMO labeling by 22-1. These labeling movements are all part of the 'Right to Know' campaigns, but apparently manufacturers don't feel Americans need to know what's in their food.
2. GMO labels wouldn't cost much at all.
Those same labels these corporations are so afraid of would actually cost the taxpayer a tiny amount—about two dollars a year—but it's not really about spreading the cost to the consumer.  Corporations want to turn a profit, and if the product you've been buying for years suddenly proclaims that is has GMOs, you'll likely stop buying it. In an effort to stop the pro-GM labeling, TV ads even tried to tell voters that these labels would cost them between $400 and $800 dollars a year. An ECONorthwest report, however, proved that inflated figure wrong. 
3. All the while, food companies remain willfully ignorant.
General Mills was in the news recently when GMOs were taken out of Cheerios, so the next logical step should have been to take GMOs out of the entire cereal lineup. Well that didn't happen for two main reasons: removing GMOs from Cheerios hasn't translated to higher sales, and the company still doesn't fully believe GMOs aren't safe. As almost every company shareholder voted against removing GMOs, I think it boils down to what the company thinks will make the most money. This focus on profit is seen in the policies of many of the food giants. Companies aren't going to ban GMOs when they're making money.
4. Ask for GMO-free, and ye shall receive!
Lately, there's been so many anti-GMO stances that companies are jumping on the non-GMO bandwagon. In the case of a vegetable that's a cross between a Brussels sprout and kale, a non-GMO label is arguable. Hybrid plants are created when you crossbreed two compatible plants; no DNA is genetically modified or enhanced, but some people might still consider a hybrid a GMO.  The bottom line is most companies want to make money, and the anti-GMO movement is a big moneymaker.
5. The fact is GMO-free animals are a good business model.
For large and small companies, when it comes to taking GMOs out of the equation profits usually soar. Sure, using GMOs in products is a safe bet; this is why General Mills stuck with them, after all. Consider, though, the power of the organic food market right now. Everyone wants organic, and farmers and ranchers are taking note. Using organic practices can add as much as $100 to a head of cattle, so from a market standpoint, the organic movement makes sense.  While most farmers and ranchers are driven by profits, we, as the consumers, are presented with more organic and non-GMO options.
6. Beware of the hucksters: "natural" doesn't mean GMO-free.
I mentioned this earlier, but let's talk about those labels on your food. Have you ever bought something that claimed it was 'natural' without it mentioning anything about GMOs?  Buyer beware! A recent study found that a lot of those products actually do contain GMOs. Consumer Reports tested over 80 different processed foods with corn or soy and found most of them had GMO ingredients.   If you want to make sure you aren't getting genetically-modified corn or soy, look for non-GMO or organic labels.
7. GMOs have already created a crisis situation and need to be stopped now.
Not only are GMOs bad for our health, genetically-modified crops are causing a big land crisis. Corn and soy are two crops that are genetically modified to tolerate multiple herbicides; however, what we're left with is two-fold: crops dosed heavily with herbicides and superweeds! These superweeds are resistant to all the common herbicides and are quickly becoming an issue–especially for farmers in the southern US where most of these weeds grow. It's estimated that almost 70 million acres of U.S farmlands are now infested with superweeds, and no one knows how to handle it. 
One Final Thought
So yes, there are a lot of reasons to avoid GMOs, and many businesses are taking note of what consumers want and making adjustments. Progress is slow–and in some cases nonexistent–but eventually there will be change. After all, we have the right to know what's in our food.
What about you? What do you think about GMOs? Be sure to tell us in the comments below.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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