Editorial: Eat your fruits and veggies

Alyssa Leonard
By Alyssa Leonard April 20, 2018 14:17

Editorial: Eat your fruits and veggies

By David Lafreniere, Christina Chibani and Alyssa Leonard

Parents often tell their children to eat their fruits and vegetables. Eating a balanced diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables is more important than whether or not those products are genetically modified.

A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is simply a plant or animal whose genes scientists have changed — something humanity has been doing since the dawn of agriculture. For example, the banana was little more than a pod of inedible seeds until it was domesticated in New Guinea around 6,500 years ago.

According to Canada’s Food Guide, people should eat one dark green and one orange vegetable each day, have fruits and vegetables more often than juice and make at least half of their daily grain products whole grain.

Changes to foods’ genes are not necessarily a bad thing. With GMO, they are just nature on fast-forward. Humanity mixed plant species in the past, making them free of viruses and drought tolerant. This helped farmers with food production. If you like peaches and cream corn on the cob, it started with ancient ancestors saving the cream of the crop, painstakingly harvesting their seeds for the next year. Fast-forward 10,000 years and you are ready for that juicy, buttery corn.

Some people seem concerned about GMOs when this process is sped up in a lab. Yet scientific organizations, such as the World Health Organization, the American Medical Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, all agree GMO foods are safe. The FAO said with limited land, water and other resources, GMOs can be used to feed an increase in population. In addition, the Pew Research Centre survey in 2015 showed that nine out of 10 scientists from the American Association for the Advancement of Science said GMOs are generally safe to eat.

Olive oil is healthier for your heart than trans fatty oils — GMOs have allowed for the fats in soybeans to be changed so they are more like olive oil. Genetic modification has increased the amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids in some foods, created a new strain of beta-carotene golden rice that is good for your eyes and skin and produced bruise-free potatoes that reduce cancer causing chemicals. A bigger and stronger sugarbeet, also made possible by GMOs, now produces most of the sugar we eat.

Most people are unfamiliar with traditional ways of modifying livestock and produce so they tend not to think about the effects of those genetic modifications. You are most likely already eating GMOs every day while the food we eat is also eating GMOs, with as much as 90 per cent of animal feed being genetically modified.

Since you are already eating it maybe the only concern is the labelling letting you know you are doing it. But will GMO labelling be scientifically based or is it a marketing based gimmick?
In fact, labelling is the strongest argument for the non-GMO crowd. The non-GMO project builds itself as North America’s “most trusted seal for GMO avoidance.” They use fear of GMO to market their non-GMO labelled products. Similar to certified angus beef, they are a marketing organization using scientific words in a non-scientific manner. Scientific consensus does not back up their claims and only produces unfounded consumer anxiety.   

Currently, foods that claim to be “non-GMO” or “GMO-free” cannot be supported using scientific testing. Government regulation regarding labelling will likely not be able to keep up with the faster-paced scientific changes to GMOs.

So follow your parents’ advice and whether it is fresh, frozen, canned or GMOd, eat your fruit and vegetables and throw in some whole grains, too.

Alyssa Leonard
By Alyssa Leonard April 20, 2018 14:17

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