Genetically Modified Organisms

There is a lot of information in the news lately about genetically modified organisms – better known as GMO’s – and many people have a lot of very different opinions about them.

Much of the controversy regarding genetically modified organisms is about the safety of the foods made from them.  Many scientists claim that eating them is fine, and not harmful, but it’s the companies that are creating and selling GMO’s who are backing studies saying that they are safe!

There are a few independent studies that have linked GMO’s to a frightening array of health problems like organ damage and toxicity.  By the end of 2015, GMO crops were banned in 38 countries around the world including 28 countries in Europe.Pixabay Image 389921

Now that it’s been established that GMO’s are harmful to humans, many people who feed raw diets to their dogs don’t realize that unless you’re taking conscious steps to avoid GMO’s in your dog’s food, he is eating them too!   Not only should you avoid GMO’s in your food, but you should also avoid them in your dog’s diet.  There are some very simple steps you can take to make sure your food and his food are safe and healthy.

gmo-254539_1280What Exactly Are GMO’S?

Genetically modified organisms are created when genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of another plant or animal.  This is not the same as crossbreeding between species or cross pollination because those two events are a completely natural process that happens.

It sounds like it can be a good thing when scientists take a single gene or set of genes and transfer them into a new genetic background to give a plant a new trait – perhaps disease resistance or increased food or fruit production.  However, it’s been found that genetic modification can affect many foods’ nutritional values as well as their toxic and allergic affects.  What was not realized early on was that by genetically modifying plants and making them insect resistant, virus resistant or herbicide resistant, there was an impact on our environment as a result.

Where Are GMO’S?

These genetically modified crops are common foods (like corn, rice, potatoes, beets, soy, tomatoes, peas and alfalfa) and are ingredients that are incorporated into commercial pet foods.  In fact, 70% of processed foods for humans also contain GMO ingredients.

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Unless you’re eating certified organic food, you can assume there are GMO’s in your food as well as your dog’s food.  Even if the listed ingredients aren’t GMO, the animals used for the meat in dog food are probably fed ingredients that contained GMO feed.  Likewise, if you buy your food at the grocery store, the grains of the food that the animal was been fed was GMO ingredients and it’s in the animal’s meat you are purchasing.

The Health Risks

There are some significant health risks in eating GMO foods.  Several studies have reported damage to organs – most common are hepatic, pancreatic, renal and reproductive effects.  GMO foods may also alter the blood, affecting immunity in humans.

There is a popular weed killer that is sprayed on weeds in many yards commonly called “Roundup”.  A two year feeding trial was done on rats that were given genetically modified corn and giving them water containing Roundup. They developed cancers faster, and died earlier, then rats fed on a standard diet.

Recent studies have shown that genetic modification can alter the gut bacteria and how the bacteria behave in the digestive tract.   Just recently, genetically modified corn has been shown to damage kidney cells, and cause leaky gut syndrome in human babies.  Because the blood-brain barrier is not fully developed in newborns toxins can enter the brain and cause serious cognitive problems possibly being a mechanism for autism.

There are many more studies regarding damages that GMO foods have been shown to cause, but the space that I have here to discuss them is limited.  Among them are liver damage, kidney damage, pancreas and reproductive issues, changes in gut bacteria leading to leaky gut and immune system issues, endocrine disruption, immune system damage, digestive disorders, skin and food allergies, cancer, cognitive issues and autism – and in dogs that autism factor translates to behavior issues!

Common GMO Foods

There’s an estimated 70% of processed foods which now contain GMO’s they are in many commercial pet foods even if you don’t see them listed on the label.  There most certainly in meat that’s in pet foods because a big percentage of these crops are in animal feeds eaten by cows, pigs, sheep, goats, poultry, rabbits and even fish.  If you’re not buying organic, GMO’s are most certainly not just in your dog’s food but also in your own meat, fish and dairy products.

GMO Labeling

Even though the United States Congress recently passed a bill requiring GMO labeling, there are some major flaws in it.  In the process of creating the federal law, they have overridden certain states such as Vermont which actually had stricter GMO labeling laws!  Producers don’t have to list GMO ingredients in plain English on the packaging but can provide this information via those black-and-white QR tags that you have to scan with a smartphone.  According to the FDA, the definition of GMO’s in the bill is written very narrowly and gives GMO ingredients many loopholes.  That means that many GMO foods just may escape labeling requirements.

My Final Thoughts

The safest way to avoid GMO foods is to buy whole, certified organic foods.  Certified organic foods aren’t allowed to use genetically modified ingredients.  They are grown without artificial pesticides or fertilizers and food animals are raised without antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs.  There is a non-GMO project website that will provide verification for non-GMO foods and products because they test for GMO contamination which is even stricter than organic certification.  You can go to www.nonGMOproject.org    I am quite sure that the controversy over GMO foods will continue because the new labeling law does not take effect for two years.

Meanwhile, I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure my French Bulldog, Reagan, doesn’t consume GMO foods.  Of course by avoiding GMO foods it adds an extra expense and complication but I believe that the risks just aren’t worth it!

I would love to hear your comments, feedback, stories and ideas.

Scoops is a pooper scooper, dog waste clean up and pet waste clean up service located in central New Jersey – Check us out at www.ScoopaPoop.com/contact-us/

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