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What’s all the fuss about genetically modified food?

Genetically modified tomatoes

Genetically modified tomatoes

Recently, in Bulgaria, where I live, there have been extensive debates over the changes in the law regulating the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s). The Act has caused a stir in Bulgaria, prompting parliamentary debates and public protests about lifting the country’s five-year ban on GMOs. It looks like the majority of Bulgarians do not want to hear about genetically-modified crops. That’s all good, I don’t want GMO’s in Bulgaria either, but I don’t think that this is what is going to solve the problem. And the problem is that GM food is already all around us. I just wonder whether most of protesters realize this fact. Because it seems to me that some of them, without even realizing it, have had a breakfast packed with GM ingredients, before leaving home to go protesting before the parliament.

What I mean by saying that GM food and products are already all around us, is that Bulgaria, being a small country with developing economy, imports most of the agricultural produce it needs. Soya granules and soya lecithin, corn and beef, among others, are imported from countries such as Argentine, United States, Brazil, China and others. Do we know if it’s genetically-modified. Most probably it is.

So I am asking, what is all the fuss about to grow or not GMO’s in Bulgaria? Bulgarians already eat a lot of GMO’s based food.

Besides, genetic-modification of crops is not some kind of evil plan, developed and implemented by some dark people, designed to do us harm. It’s quite the opposite (or at least it’s supposed to be). The potential benefits of genetic modification include controlled speed of ripening; resistance to pests and herbicides; enhanced taste or appearance; vitamin enrichment; increased crop yields; and drought, cold or disease resistance.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that GMO’s should become a norm, if only for the reason that I myself am a little bit scared of this stuff. Primary because the extent of outcomes on human health are still unknown, and it will take years and years to establish what are the effects of GMO based foods on us, humans.

On the other hand, I would like to ask, will we be able to say we eat healthy, if we ate 100% GMO’s free food? How about the other stuff we buy, cook (or don’t) and put in our mouths? We all know that we are what we eat, right?

If I was in a position to give advise, I’d say two things. First, do not eat food that you suspect containing ingredients produced from genetically-modified crops. I mean that it’s your choice whether or not to eat that burger, sausage or candy bar, or any high risk products, containing soy and corn derivatives, for example. Start reading labels and learn to recognize label terminology and numbers.

Also shop locally. By shopping at farmers’ markets or patronizing a local co-op, you may be able to avoid GM products and possibly save money at the same time. I wrote a post about shopping locally and buying products when they are in season. Click here to read this post.

Second, and even more important, is to not concentrate on just one aspect of what you eat, such as whether or not your food contains GM products. Do not forget that you are what you eat! There are things which depend entirely on you – what you buy, cook and put in your mouth, in what quantities and so on. And then, there are things, such as genetic-modification that still depend on you but not more than the global warming.

3 comments to What’s all the fuss about genetically modified food?

  • emo

    Здравей Сергей,
    много мислех дали да ти пиша на латиница или кирилица понеже сайта е регистриран в Техсас а в една от статийте ти пише ,че живееш в Българиа.Много ми допада сайта ти с няколко забележки…аз съм готвач и си мисля също да правя гурме сайт :)
    Поздравления Емо

  • Sergey

    Здравей Емо,

    Радвам се, че сайта ти допада. Много ще се радвам и ти да направиш свой – ще ми е много интересно.


  • Jeanne

    Hello, I stumbled upon your website by accident but have really enjoyed reading the content. I am completing my MA in Food Studies in the US and we have discussed GM food at length. There are a couple of misconceptions regarding GM seed, they are incredibly resource intensive, they take a lot of fertilizer and water to get them established. Yes, perhaps once they are established, they can sustain some water stress in periods of drought, but so can many other non-GM plants. The second issue is that by supporting GM crops, we are diminishing our own biodiversity. It is through biodiversity that we can survive pests and drought because farms are not dependent on one crop, a monoculture. Also, by encouraging biodiversity, as consumers, we will have more choices of foods which will provide us with the appropriate nutrients and we will not be dependent on gene-splicing. Lastly, so much of the soya and corn that is grown is used for animal feed, processed foods, and biofuels. From a US perspective only, we in the US eat FAR too much meat and it is taxing our resources and ecosystems. Because GM farmers are growing so much of these crops, it depresses the market so they don’t get a good price for their crop. This is especially an issue in places like India where farmers must take out loans to buy seed and fertilizer. They then cannot make enough on their crop to pay back the loan and they are in a cycle of debt. Lastly, for generations farmers have been able to save their seed from their crops. That is not true of GM crops, farmers must buy the seed, food seed that is PATENTED. Food should not be patented.

    Sorry this is so long. I believe that we should know if the food is GM and have the option not to support this type of dirty industry. And the world population of 9B that they are always talking about? We have plenty of food to provide for them now, we will also be able to do it in the future if we cut back on the amount of acreage dedicated to providing animal feed. We eat too many animals as it is (I am an omnivore). Hunger in this world has more to do with distribution and access than it does to production. That is why I’m against GMO. Thank you for reading.

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