What’s a GMO?

Did you know that yesterday was Non-GMO day? I didn’t either until I saw it on Twitter.


Are you wondering what a GMO is? GMO stands for genetically modified organism. Its an organism that has been created through biotechnology, not by nature.

So, then a Non-GMO is an organism that is not genetically engineered.

I know. Its confusing. I didn’t understand what it meant either until I read The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien.

I had noticed Non-GMO labels on many of the organic products I was buying and thought “ok, whatever that means.” Then I got to the “Soy Secrets” chapter in O’Brien’s book and realized I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know what the label meant. It had been a foreign acronym to her, too, until her youngest was diagnosed with food allergies and she began to research the food supply.

“At first I thought GMOs were a kind of nutritional supplement,” (O’Brien 64).

And what she found was shocking! I don’t think I could do the book justice by paraphrasing it all here but I will try to correctly recap what I read about GMOs.

GMOs are commonly found in soy and corn. Their DNA is altered (or modified) to make them more resistant to insects and diseases and thus more profitable plants. When genes are altered, however, its impossible to predict exactly what will happen to the organism, how it will mutate. Companies who use GMOs are NOT required to disclose that information on their products’ labels – and if you read labels, you know how many foods contain soy and/or corn. I was shocked, to say the least.

I started reading The Unhealthy Truth because I was interested in O’Brien’s food allergy story. I wanted to read about her experience, to find out how it was like mine and how it was different, and to learn what she had discovered about the food industry. While the writing isn’t stellar (I admit I’m a writing snob – its the editor and English major in me), her story is very compelling and informative. There’s a lot of science in the book that O’Brien breaks down into clear, simple terms.  Reading her book is like one food allergy mom talking to another. She knows her audience. I learned a lot by reading O’Brien’s book. It set me down my own investigative path towards a more natural and healthy diet.


Disclaimer: I recently blogged for Robyn O’Brien’s Allergy Kids Foundation. Afterwards, she offered to send me a copy of her book for review. I declined because I had read the book already but I did agree to review it. The ideas in this post are my own and its likely I would have shared them regardless of her request.

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