Are there any GMOs in our products
The first modified tomatoes appeared in American stores in 1994. Since then, laboratory-improved food has launched an offensive in most countries of the world. There are no official statistics in Russia, and we do not know how long ago GM products replaced “honest” vegetables and fruits from our plates. But experts believe that up to 50% of products on the market are produced using at least one modified component.
A few years ago, few in our country thought about GMOs (genetically modified organisms), but the situation is changing rapidly. According to the VTsIOM study for 2014, 82% of Russians are sure that modified products are harmful to health.
At the same time, the majority of respondents (54%) admit that they know almost nothing about the production technology itself. Let's try to figure out what GM products are and what they are for.
What is GMO?
GMO refers to any product whose DNA has been intentionally altered to give the body new properties. This can be done with the product itself (soybeans, tomatoes, apples) or with one of the ingredients (chips from GM corn or cookies containing sugar from modified sugar beets).
The initial task that scientists set themselves when creating GMOs, quite mundane, is to increase the resistance of crops to pests and temperature extremes. Now in the world for modification use 27 cultures.
The main plants are soybeans, potatoes, beets, cereals, corn, apple trees, plums, cucumbers, rye. The goal of GMO production in recent years has become wider - to feed the planet. According to UN forecasts, by 2050 the population will be 9 billion people, and we all will need something to eat. Every year we lose hectares of crops due to temperature changes and pest attacks. To cope with insects, pesticides are widely used, as a result of which toxic substances remain in the products. The modification allows you to make plants invulnerable to cold and drought, as well as refuse harmful processing.
Donors can be microorganisms, viruses, other plants, animals, and even humans. For example, a frost-resistant tomato was obtained, in the DNA of which the North American flounder gene is embedded. And to create a drought tolerant wheat variety, the scorpion gene was used. Work is underway to create GM salmon, which grows and gains weight twice as fast as regular fish.
Can GM foods be harmful to health?
Discussions on this topic continue, but there is still no evidence of the harm that modified products can cause to the body. In 2012, French scientists published a sensational study on the relationship of GMOs and several types of cancer. However, later these data were disproved: in the study and interpretation of the results, serious shortcomings were discovered.
Another major scandal erupted a year later, when British doctors said that GM products provoke gluten intolerance. These data were also recognized as invalid.
Russian scientists also conducted research on GMOs. Employees of the N. N. Severtsov Research Institute of Ecology and Evolution (Russian Academy of Sciences) in 2008-2010 proved the relationship between GM nutrition and the health of offspring in rats. A similar relationship in people could not be established.
Can GMOs trigger an allergy?
Scientists give a definite answer to this question: modified products are no more allergic than ordinary ones. All plants that have been changed by laboratory methods are tested for the main types of allergens and only after that they are launched into mass production.
The fact that allergies are becoming more common, it is necessary to blame other factors - the adverse environment, increased stress levels and the greenhouse effect, due to which the flowering of many plants begins earlier and becomes more intense.
Is there a reason to worry and how to distinguish GMOs
Is there any reason to worry?
It’s worth worrying though because we cannot be sure of the choice of products. Not all manufacturers are ready to openly admit the use of GMOs and put the relevant information on the packaging. Labeling adopted in Russia has one significant drawback: companies must make appropriate markings on the packaging of GM products. However, there are goods that are technically not classified as modified, but still contain GM components - manufacturers are not required to report this.
“The genetic correction procedure of a threat does not carry a threat per se,” said Vlasta Bobrynina, senior researcher at Genoanalitika CJSC. - Organisms turn out to be more viable. And they naturally displace the original species. Yes, we can introduce new genes to give plants or animals the qualities that humans need. In Europe, manufacturers are obliged to label products with GMOs, and on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean genetically modified plants are actively used, and no one bothers to indicate this on the package. It is probably better when the consumer has more information. But to make conclusions today about the dangers or benefits of GMOs is premature. ”
How to distinguish GMOs?
It is possible to say exactly whether the culture contains modified components only after laboratory analysis. And those who want to avoid the use of GMOs, it remains to carefully study the labels. Most often, modified soy and corn varieties are used in the production of products. If you see components based on soybean (soybean flour, soybean oil, lecithin, hydrolyzed vegetable protein) and corn (cornmeal, cornstarch, corn oil), you are likely to see GMOs.
Pay attention to the appearance of vegetables and fruits, especially tomatoes and potatoes: if the fruits look exactly the same and do not spoil for several weeks, this is an occasion to suspect the presence of built-in genes.
Give preference to Russian vegetables and fruits, in this case the chance to buy "improved" varieties is much lower. Most often, GM components are used in the production of convenience foods, fast food and industrial baking - these products should be abandoned without regrets.
GMOs and the environment
It was believed that GM crops will have a beneficial effect on the ecological situation, because pests do not pose a threat to modified plants, which means that less chemicals are needed. These hopes did not materialize. According to Washington State University, pesticide use has been halved over the past 8 years. This happened due to the cultivation of GM crops, in which a gene that repels pests is embedded. However, at the same time, the use of other chemicals increased several times. Because of this, the risks of water and soil pollution have not decreased, but rather increased.