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    Ask the Chef: Why is Non-GMO Important?

    By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef | October 5, 2015

    Why is “Non-GMO†important?

    As you've likely noticed, the conversation surrounding GMO's continues to increase in volume, and with good reason: GMO's are one of the single biggest, most important “food issues†in modern times.

    GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, which can apply to any living being, flora or fauna. In some ways, humans have been “modifying organisms†for thousands of years through selective cultivation. For example, our ancestors chose to only farm and reproduce types of grain that produced the largest crop yields compared to other varieties; mating a donkey and a horse created the highly functional mule; and the creation of new types of produce through hand pollination, such as the pluot -a combination of a plum and an apricot. Though this could be considered coaxing the path of nature, it still allows for organisms to develop naturally, and is not considered a “GMO.†True genetically modified organisms can only be created in a laboratory. Like their name suggests, they are formed by splicing and altering individual genes, thus, changing the DNA of an animal or plant to produce a new, internally altered species. In terms of agriculture, GMO foods have been gradually introduced into various foods since the mid 1990's.

    Although the corporations behind the GMO patents argue their crops are easier to grow/hardier against pests/produce bigger yields etc., there are legitimate concerns regarding the potential downsides to GMO's. GMO seeds are designed to germinate in conjunction with the use of pesticides and herbicides (in other words, requiring corporation-owned products to grow, as opposed to simply needing soil, sunshine and water like a normal seed). Aside from being dependent to these circumstances, these additional pesticides are connected to many serious health issues including allergies, digestive issues, and some types of cancer. From an environmental perspective, , the chemical substances are known to negatively affect their surroundings, killing harmless and good insects like bees and butterflies, sickening animals, and polluting the soil, streams, and groundwater. Furthermore the foreign seeds often uncontrollably cross-pollinate with natural, non-GMO crops, risking forever changing our landscape and food choices.

    These concerns may be only the tip of the iceberg. Though science has repetitively shown us that gene-splicing has unintended consequences, there are no long-term studies on the effect of GMO foods on humans with regular consumption.

    But one of the most debated issues of GMOs comes down to transparency. Despite increasing public pressure, U.S. lawmakers have continued to back the interests of corporations, who deny the public the right to know simply whether or not a commercially sold food contains GMO ingredients via a label. This is a major point of contention for many Americans, as over 60 other countries already require labeling … or simply ban GMO ingredients altogether.

    For now, avoiding GMO ingredients is possible. Choosing certified USDA Organic foods, which are not allowed to contain GMO ingredients, is one guarantee you're GMO-free. Some companies which are not organic have begun to differentiate their products with Non-GMO certifications as well. For the record, Navitas Naturals is a 100% organic line, with a strong stand against GMOs, and does not (and never has) used them in products.

    GMO's are a complicated and heated issue. Our strongest stand against them is through voting with our dollars: exclusively supporting certified Non-GMO and/or organic companies that actively care about the well-being of their customers, and their environment. For more, visit the Non-GMO project.