I’d like to share my simple reasons why I avoid GMO foods.

GMO (genetically modified organisms) are everywhere. I’m afraid there are some in our cupboards as well. There’s no way of identifying them now, so it’s nearly impossible to avoid them completely. I’ve heard 90% of soybeans grown in the United States are genetically engineered.

“Genetic engineering allows scientists to cross the species barrier, mixing genetic material among of animals, plants and microorganism. The offspring of genetic engineering would never be found in nature. For example, fish genes have been placed in tomatoes, human genes in tobacco, bacteria in corn, and viruses in squash and fruit.” (a excerpt from Council for Responsible Genetics website FAQ page)

Without further ado, here are my top 10 reasons to avoid genetically engineered foods.

  1. GMO plants are showered with herbicides, such as Monsanto’s RoundUp.
  2. It’s not natural for plants to have animal genes.
  3. GMO corn is responsible for death of honey bees, important pollinators.
  4. Its long term effect on human/animal health is unknown.
  5. It contaminates the organic farms through natural cross pollination.
  6. GMO reduces bio-diversity, which is very important for plants’ survival.
  7. Monsanto sells GMO seeds to poor farmers at much higher price than normal seeds.
  8. Monsanto sues poor farmers on suspicion that they reproduce/use GMO seeds.
  9. FDA, EPA, USDA take side on big food industries instead of protecting people/animals.
  10. GMO is a fraud/scam to make big food industries to get even bigger.

The first one is critical, and directly concerns our health. I abhor chemical pesticides and herbicides. I still vividly remember my joy and heartbreak of poor butterfly caterpillars from years ago.

When I was still in high school, my mother had a very small patch of parsley growing in our yard, and swallowtail butterfly laid some eggs. I watched the caterpillars grow bigger, eating our parsley everyday. But there were too many of them in such a small patch. Learning that once they learn to eat one particular plant, they usually don’t eat another plant, I bought some parsley from a local market on the way from school for the hungry swallowtail caterpillars.

Pretty monarch butterfly caterpillar munching away a leaf at MassAudubon’s Wachusetts Meadows (sorry, I don’t have a photo of swallowtail caterpillars -_-)

Well, you probably guessed it. They unsuspectingly ate the parsley I brought home, and all died. Mind you, I washed them several times before feeding them to the caterpillars. I felt absolutely awful.

Yes, I suppose humans/animals have much stronger tolerance for poisons like pesticides and herbicides. But I hear they harm in a way we don’t notice. They disrupt our hormones. Let me just say that constant hormone disturbances can lead to major illnesses like cancer.

So I’m sticking with organic foods as much as possible. That’s the only sure way for now to avoid GMO. I hope California will pass the Proposition 37, which is to mandate labeling of GMO on packaged foods. They say it is unlikely that the food industries would have two separate packaging (one for CA and another for the rest of the States) if California mandates the labeling. I’m hopeful. I want to live in the world where caterpillars can safely turn into beautiful butterflies.

Swallowtail butterfly feeding on a red clover at World’s End, Hingham, MA