How much do you know about the food you eat on board? If you're a Chef, you either operate on a budget or not and make purchasing decisions accordingly. If you're the rest of the Crew, you may have no idea of what consists of your diet. Even with 'all natural' and organic brands, did you know some of the organic brands could be owned by companies backing anti-GMO labelling initiatives? Everyone has an opinion on issues and we chose to take a non-GMO stand based on lots and lots and lots of reading over the years.
What are GM or GMO foods?
According to Wikipedia and the Non-GMO Project, GM foods are foods produced from organisms that have had changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering techniques allow for the introduction of new traits as well as greater control over traits than previous methods such as selective breeding and mutation breeding.
Living organisms' genetic material have been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.
Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems (this varies from our sources), environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.
Commercial sale of genetically modified foods began in 1994, when Calgene first marketed its unsuccessful Flavr Savr delayed-ripening tomato. Most food modifications have primarily focused on cash crops in high demand by farmers such as soybean, corn, canola, and cotton seed oil. Genetically modified crops have been engineered for resistance to pathogens and herbicides and for better nutrient profiles. GM livestock have been developed, although as of November 2013 none were on the market.
So! That said, there is a growing movement to avoid GM foods due to the uncertainty of their origins and of whether they offer increased health risks or are the wave of the future. The question is this - are GMO foods safe?
Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.
There is a new labeling system in place in the U.S. from the Non-GMO Project that allows you to know if a product is a Non-GMO product. The Non-GMO Project is the only third party verification in the US for GMO avoidance.
What are the impacts of GMOs on the environment?
Over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMO crops are also responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs:’ which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons like 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange). GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture, and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment these novel organisms cannot be recalled.
How do GMOs affect farmers?
Because GMOs are novel life forms, biotechnology companies have been able to obtain patents with which to restrict their use. As a result, the companies that make GMOs now have the power to sue farmers whose fields are contaminated with GMOs, even when it is the result of inevitable drift from neighboring fields. GMOs therefore pose a serious threat to farmer sovereignty and to the national food security of any country where they are grown, including the United States.
How can I avoid GMOs?
Choose food and products that are Non-GMO Project Verified! Click here to see a complete list. This might be a website you wish to use to check out your favorite brands :)