Genetically Modified Foods: What you need to know

Genetically Modified Foods: What you need to know

A good friend of mine moved to New Zealand not too long ago. Her family was having a good time at a local fair. They came upon a food booth that was loaded with a variety of kiwis to taste. My friend told me that everything looked so yummy and perfect. She asked the woman there if the kiwis were GMO. The woman looked horrified as she exclaimed, “No! We don’t allow genetically modified foods in New Zealand.

No wonder I’ve been jealous of her ever since she moved.

Genetically Modified Foods

What are Genetically Modified Foods?

A GMO, or Genetically Modified Organism, is an animal, plant, or bacteria that has had its genetic make-up altered. We’re not talking about cross breeding or other farming practices that have been around for thousands of years. We are talking gene modification here. Proponents of GMOs say that this modification is designed to improve the quality of the organism. But not everyone is convinced Genetically Modified foods are safe, including me.

Here’s why.

1. Genetically Modified Foods are just too new.

There is a reason why many countries have banned Genetically Modified foods including New Zealand, Japan, and much of Europe. The first genetically modified plant was only produced in 1983. And the US didn’t approve commercial marketing for GMO foods until 1994. [i] We are talking less than twenty years. With such a short history, how can anyone really know the long term effects of GMOs on our health? But rather than take a “better safe than sorry” approach, our country has given these major food and seed companies the right to experiment with our health.

2. Genetically Modified Foods are everywhere.

Did you know that more than 90% of all soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified? Or that 85% of all corn is also genetically engineered? These statistics become even more scary when you consider that corn and soy find their way into practically everything. In fact, The Grocery Manufacturers of America has estimated that as much as 80% of processed foods in the United States contain Genetically Modified Ingredients.[ii] This includes breakfast cereals and other products that can still bear the label “all natural.” Along with corn and soy, cotton and canola oil are also among the conventionally grown foods that are most likely GMO.

Scary, right?

Genetically Modified Foods

3. Genetically Modified Foods aren’t labeled.

Clearly if you eat a lot of processed foods you’re going to have a hard time avoiding Genetically Modified foods. But beyond just being able to find safe food, this non-labeling issue becomes a major freedom issue.

I should be able to choose what food I put on my table. I should be able to “opt out” of this cruel “food” experiment. I don’t need my children being the guinea pigs only to realize twenty or so years from now that we have royally messed things up. Every person should be able to decide for themselves what they put in their body. Period.

4. Genetically Modified Foods are out of control.

I do my best to protect my family by buying only organic foods. Is it costly? You bet. Am I rich? No way. But my family has decided it’s worth forgoing big vacations, a second car, and other “luxuries” to provide real health through real food. But here’s the thing: Foods labeled “USDA Organic”are supposedly free from genetically modified foods. But due to cross-contamination of crops, even organic products almost always contain trace levels of GMOs.

“According to the Center for Food Safety, there have been more than 200 contamination episodes since GE crops were introduced, costing farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales. In 2008, the Government Accountability Office compiled a report that highlighted the challenges of containing regulated GE crops “given the porous nature of biological systems and the potential for human error.” According to the report, representatives from the biotech industry, agricultural commodity growers and consumer advocacy organizations admitted that “future unauthorized releases of low levels of regulated GE material are likely to occur.[iii]

Not only that, but GM crops have been altered to withstand increased pesticides. The constant use of Roundup (and its active ingredient: glyphosate) has created an epidemic of superweeds that are now resistant to glyphosate. Cross contamination and superweeds. Seems like we have lost control, folks.

5. Genetically Modified foods simply are NOT safe.

Here’s the bottom line: GMOs expose people to higher levels of pesticides. In fact, according to a report by the Organic Center, GE crops are responsible for increasing herbicide use by 383 million pounds in the United States over the first 13 years of commercial use[iv]. The Glyphosate causes higher plant estrogen levels which can be dangerous and pose long term health risks[v]. By genetically altering these foods we are creating complex interactions within the body—the results of which pose unknown risks. And even though the effects on humans are still so mostly unknown, animals who have grazed on GM crops have died from ruptured internal organs. 

Do you want to eat this stuff!?

David vs. Goliath: What can you do?

If you are already aware of Genetically Modified foods you know that this is an uphill battle. With huge businesses like Monsanto bringing big bucks to the table to keep us as lab rats in this experiment, it can seem like we are fighting Goliath. And guess what? We are. But the key is that we are fighting.

And if you remember, David wins.

Proposition 37: Label GMOs

This November, voters in California will have the right to decide whether or not to require GMO labeling on foods and drinks. Finally, there is hope that we can at least have the right to know what is in our food.

This will not be an easy victory. To fight this initiative, the big Goliaths are going to fight hard. Monsanto and PepsiCo are among the opponents of labeling Genetically Modified foods and have already put up $25 million (and could raise up to $50 million) to sway the vote in their favor.[vi]

Makes you wonder: If Genetically Modified foods are safe, why the worry about having them labeled?

Genetically Modified Foods

Well, I don’t live in California… So how does this affect me?

Remember, a “yes” vote in California (which is home to about 10 percent of all Americans) would ultimately be a vote “yes” for all of us. The likelihood of food companies printing different labels for different states is unreasonable. So labeling in California would be a major step forward to reclaiming our food.

Okay, so… still, I can’t vote. What do I do?

Spread the word. Let people know. Make GMOs a household name. Tell the real story. Share this post with your friends. Change your facebook status.

Say YES on Proposition 37!!!  You can learn more about the proposition and how you can help by visiting

I believe we all have a right to nourishing, whole, real food. Unfortunately our world has done a pretty good job messing that up. But at the very least we have a right to know what is in our food.  We have a right to know if about genetically modified foods.


Looking for quality real food ingredients? Be sure to the check out the Village Green Marketplace!


(Top featured image by Daquella manera, Flickr)
(Other images by MillionsAgainstMonsanto and Tim & Selena Middleton, Flickr)

This post is part of Living Green Tuesday, Fresh Food Wednesdays,  Whole Food Wednesdays, Eat Make Grow Thursday, Keep it Real Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Freaky Friday, Fill Those Jars Friday, Simply Living Saturdays, and Real Food Wednesday.

Think getting real food the table is hard? I used to, too. Well, my friend, let me introduce you to Real Plans. A brand new way to think about meal planning that makes getting healthy, delicious food to your table easy. I am absolutely in love with it, and I know you will be, too. Check it out here.

NOTE: Due to an never-ending cesspool of spam, I have made the tough decision to close comments 14 days after the original posting of all posts. Sorry to anyone left out of the conversation. I just needed to spend less time monitoring spam and more time with my kids. Best wishes, Robin!

STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note, I only ever endorse products that are in alignment with Thank Your Body's ideals and I believe would be of value to my readers. You may read my full disclosure statements here.

About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie


  1. kristy @ gastronomical sovereignty

    it’s so important to explain the concepts behind prop 37 and you’ve done a great job of that. i find sometimes people get all wrapped up in the politics of food issues without laying a base understanding of what is actually at stake. well done :)

    today is the Wednesday Fresh Foods Blog Hop – I was hoping, if you feel up for it, that you’d link up this fabulous post (and any future fabulous, seasonal and/or real food posts) with us :) Everyone is welcome so feel free to stop by. take care! xo, kristy

  2. Massuma

    Thank you so much for this post, you cleared up a lot of things for me. I recently began looking into GMOs and such, due to a medical condition related to my diet, and am appalled at what kinds of poisonous substances are being forced onto us.

    You are doing an amazing job, and while I’m in Canada, I hope this proposition goes through!

  3. Debra

    Love this post, very timely. Washington is just at the petition signing stage with I-522 to get labeling on the ballot. As I collect signatures I do wonder why some people won’t sign even when presented with all the facts. Thanks for posting this!

    1. Post author

      Good luck for all of those in Washington! I really hope more people will realize how important this is. Thanks for all the work you are doing to get us to a better place. :)

  4. Lyza May

    I found your post of Fresh Foods Wednesday Blog Hop. I posted my piece on Prop 37 on there too. I totally agree with you, GMO’s are scary business.

    1. Post author

      Awesome! I’ll go check your post out. I love the support that is out there. Just got to spread the word.

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  18. cassia

    i just discovered last night that my request to vote absentee for california was allowed, so i got my ballot. and i’ve been thinking about voting yes for prop 37 – holy tacos, we would finally be able to know?? but i still felt funny about THIS proposition. i looked it up. and what i found is that this particularly phrased proposition is not as strong as it could be. there are loopholes and it worries me, because obviously the idea is fantastic. but i wonder if holding out for a better-worded, tighter proposition would be the better choice? i’m not saying i’m voting for or against it, i’m genuinely curious as to who here has read through the whole thing and if you all really think the costs this would bring are outweighed by the one benefit of knowing whether *some* of your food is gmo or not?

    i just wish this was already strong, then it would be a no-brainer. i just worry that more harm will be done than good :/

    1. Post author

      Hi Cassia,

      I hear your concerns, and obviously the proposition isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. This article spells it out pretty accurately:

      Ultimately, ANY step in the right direction is a good one. We don’t know if we’ll have another chance like this with a better proposition in the future. In the meantime, the big GMO companies are paying MEGA bucks to get this proposition down. They have done a good job saying it will cost people more, that there’s too many loopholes, and all other “back and forth” arguments. But the in reality, ANY step forward to knowing what is in our food is a good thing… even if it’s not perfect it’s a whole lot more information that we have now.

      Good luck with the vote. :)

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