Science of Food: A current perspective of GMOs and RoundUp, part 2
February 8, 2017
Editor's note: This is the second installment of a two-part series on GMOs. In the first part, Lisa Julian discussed some possible reasons why these man-made genetically modified crops, and the widespread use of its counterpart RoundUp herbicide (glyphosate), may be harmful to our health, and she provided scientific evidence supporting this claim. Find the first part at SummitDaily.com.
The number one genetically modified crop in the world is soya (soybeans), followed by corn as a close second. Canola, cotton and alfalfa are also commonly genetically modified.
Soybeans are a common additive to numerous food products, coming in the form of soybean oil, soy lecithin and soy protein. Corn is also present in many processed foods like corn cereals, corn chips and any products containing high fructose corn syrup. Both soy and corn GM crops are also typical components of animal feed. The U.S. and Canada are the only two countries that do not require genetically modified food to be labeled as such, so unless you are buying "certified organic" food, most of your common food products — including non-organic meats, eggs and dairy — likely contain GMOs.
Over 300 million pounds of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's RoundUp, are applied to U.S. farms each year. Glyphosate is used on many crops that are genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide RoundUp ("RoundUp Ready" crops). More recently, glyphosate is being sprayed on non-GMO crops, like wheat, oats and sugar cane as a pre-harvesting agent for an earlier, easier and bigger harvest. Its application to crops just days before harvesting results in much higher glyphosate residues in that harvested food.
Food labels can be confusing and consumers must pay close attention to know exactly what they are buying. If a food is not specifically labeled as "certified organic," look for the "non-GMO Project Verified" label, which indicates it has gone through a strict testing process to ensure it is indeed a non-GMO food. However, know that the "non-GMO Project Verified" label does not mean that it is free of synthetic pesticides like glyphosate.
If you see "GMO-free" on the food label, that this does not necessarily ensure a non-GMO product either, as there are no federal regulations about using this terminology on labels. To avoid eating GMOs and glyphosate, buy "certified organic" food — represented as the green and white circular label on packages — which means that the food does not contain GMOs and contains at least 95 percent organically grown ingredients (grown without RoundUp or other synthetic pesticides/herbicides).
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In addition to its potential harm to human health, the widespread use of RoundUp has environmental consequences. Since its introduction in 1974, RoundUp is now so widely used by both farmers and homeowners as a weed killer that billions upon billions of pounds of RoundUp have been sprayed onto our crops, fields, parks, playgrounds and in our own backyards. This has resulted in the emergence of "superweeds" that are less sensitive or resistant to glyphosate. So in an attempt to counteract the resistance, RoundUp use has escalated steadily since the mid-1990s.
There are now public health concerns about contaminated drinking water due to glyphosate runoff events following application of the herbicide. The soil quality is another concern, since glyphosate disrupts the delicate microbial environment in the soil and will degrade the integrity of the soil over time with repeated exposures.
This directly influences the quality and nutritional value of crops cultivated in that soil and the ability to continue using that soil for future crops. Although studies documenting the long-term effects are still unknown, there is plenty of scientific evidence showing that there are risks to human health and the environment with the widespread use of GMO crops and RoundUp.
Lisa Julian, Ph.D. has a passion for organic chemistry the "molecules of life," and its application to food and health. She's the owner of Elevated Yoga & Holistic Health in Frisco and teaches Science and Nutrition at CU Denver and CMC. She can be reached at (970) 401-2071 or firstname.lastname@example.org For more information about services offered at her studio, visit ElevatedYogaColorado.com.
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