GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are created when the genetic material from one species (bacteria, virus, plant or animal) is inserted into the DNA of another species in an attempt to introduce a new trait or characteristic. According to the USDA, 89% of corn, 92% of cottonseed, 100% of sugar beets, and 94% of soybeans are genetically modified. It is estimated that more than 80% of all processed foods contain GMOs.
The FDA has announced that GMO foods are safe, but a number of its own scientists and researchers have disagreed. According to some studies, the potential problems associated with GMOs include human health problems such as infertility, immune and digestive system problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation and organ dysfunction), as well as the disruption of traditional, non-GMO farming, and the inadvertent and irreversible contamination of our food supply. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has advised its members to recommend that patients avoid GM foods.
Independent testing of foods containing GMOs has been repeatedly blocked by industry and stymied by rigorously-enforced patent and trademark laws that prohibit any independent testing without the explicit permission of the manufacturer. Without independent scientific evaluation, the public is being asked to accept the assurances of the biotech industry that GMO products are safe.
The potential impact of GMOs on our youngest, most vulnerable populations is raising concern among pediatricians and parents alike. Young children are uniquely vulnerable to environmental toxins due to their rapidly developing physiology, and exposure to GMOs is no exception.
As it is, fetuses may be exposed in the womb and breastfed infants can be exposed through their mother's diets. Since the diets of young children rely more heavily on corn and soy, they are particularly susceptible to the potential health impacts associated with GM crops.
One such health impact may be the development of food allergies, according to some studies. Data shows that soy allergies in children living in the UK skyrocketed after GMO soy was introduced.
Sixty-four countries, representing more than half of the world's population, already require labeling of GMO foods. Connecticut, Maine and Vermont have passed legislation to require labeling of food products containing GMO ingredients, and over two dozen other states are considering GMO labeling laws.