Food Allergies and GMO Foods: Why We Got Non-GMO Project Verified
Way Better Snacks shares the concerns surrounding GMOs and their relationship to food allergies and the unknown health implications of introducing those ingredients into our food supply. We prefer a ‘back to the basics’ approach with food and think that keeping ingredients simple and uncompromised is important.
GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods were first introduced in the US in the mid-1990s and started with corn, soybeans and canola. According the Non-GMO Project, GMO ingredients are included in over 80% of the foods on supermarket shelves. Here is a list of those crops and derivative ingredients: http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/
The seeds of GMO crops were genetically engineered to resist to herbicides, insecticides, plant viruses, to increase yield, or slow the ripening process giving the produce a longer shelf life. Very often the seeds are genetically modified using the herbicides, insecticides, bacteria, viruses, or other plant and animal genetic material to achieve those attributes – literally changing the DNA of the seeds which also alters how the human body recognizes those crops.
GMOs have been in the news quite a bit lately with Monsanto at the center of a heated debate regarding the long-term implications of introducing GMOs into our food supply. There are essentially two schools of thought – those who feel that GMOs are needed to meet the growing demands on the food industry and those who believe they are harmful to the environment, human health and that GMOs are a dangerous game which demand further testing and research.
The controversy around GMOs is quite global with nearly 50 countries banning or severely restricting GMOs and requiring explicit product labeling. These countries include Australia, Japan, China, Japan, Norway, Austria, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France, Luxembourg, Portugal, Greece, Brazil, and Paraguay. Because so many countries have banned the production of GMOs and require labeling for imports that contain GMOs, in order to sell products to them, many US Food companies will label their GMO products if required or offer Non-GMO versions in those markets.
There is a great deal of speculation about the introduction of GMOs and the meteoric rise in food allergies. Speaker, author of The Unhealthy Truth, and children’s health advocate, Robyn O’Brien, has done a great deal of research on the topic and tours the country speaking about GMOs, additives and preservatives, and their connection to children’s health. She also gave an informative speech as a part of TedX which explains the possible relationship between GMO foods, food allergies and other illnesses such as cancer – not to mention the financial underbelly that makes GMOs a self-regulating cash cow.
Robyn also addresses the tie between GMO soy, the doubling of soy allergies, and their connection to peanut allergies. According to her organization, AllergyKids Foundation, in 1996, soy was genetically engineered with chemical toxins to make it a more profitable crop. That same year, there was a 50% increase in the soy allergy (source: York Nutritional Labs), making soy allergy one of the top ten allergies. Within the first five years of the introduction of this genetically engineered soy and the new proteins, allergens and toxins that this soy now contains, there was a doubling of the peanut allergy (from 1997-2002).
In the US nearly 90% of soy contains these chemicals, allergens and proteins.
Mandatory labeling of GMOs have been proposed in the US but not yet enacted. Those who are for the labeling of GMOs site a consumer’s right to know what’s in their food so that they can make an informed purchase decision. Opponents point out the logistical challenges with identifying and labeling GMOs and that GMOs don’t warrant specific labeling because they aren’t very different from their Non-GMO counterparts.
Some companies have taken the matter into their own hands and voluntarily label their products. The Non-GMO Project offers a stringent Non-GMO verification process which clearly labels Non-GMO foods. Way Better Snacks just received its official verification from the Non-GMO Project and we couldn’t be more thrilled. For a comprehensive list of products that have received this verification visit the Non-GMO Project website.
Way Better Snacks believes that changes can be made, even if it’s just one person or company at a time.