Feb 5, 2011

What is a GMO? (and why you should care)

A GMO is a genetically modified organism (plant, animal, or even microorganism) and can also be referred to as a GEO or genetically engineered organism.  Scientists have altered the genetic code of these organisms in an effort to introduce new genes and thus new characteristics that the organism did not possess naturally.  In fact, scientists are now capable of transferring genes between 2 species that cannot mate.  This phenomenon is referred to as transgenesis.  Little is known about the long-term effects that this gene manipulation will have on us or our environment and while some view GMOs as the way of the future, others view them as a sign that science has gone too far.  There are currently 5 major genetically modified agricultural crops.  They are soy, corn, rice, wheat, and cotton.  The U.S. currently plants approximately 30% of its cropland with genetically modified seeds.  Crops have been modified for higher yield, increased nutrient value and even pesticide resistance.  Some will argue that man has been manipulating plants and animals to produce specific results for thousands of years, but never before have we been able to alter the genome so quickly and so precisely.  What are your views on GMOs?  Do you think that we should embrace the technology and advances that have been made or do you think that we have gone too far?

Here's another tip for you when you are shopping to help you better understand where your produce comes from:

Look at the PLU; if it’s organic, it will start with a 9, followed by four digits. Genetically modified fruit PLU codes start with 8 followed by four digits (however, labeling GMOs is not mandatory here in the U.S. so you many not realize that you are buying GMO) ; non-GMO, conventionally grown fruit PLUs have only four digits.)

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