Go for Healthier, Safer Food Choices
In recent times, there has been a spate of health and food alerts involving pesticides, weed killers, salmonella, E. coli and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Even infants have not been spared from melamine-contaminated milk. These disturbing global phenomena should make us seriously re-consider the food we buy. The fact is, most of the food we eat is processed, treated, filled, enhanced or fortified. Not only is it difficult to assess the implications of these processes, little is known of what they actually entail. It is therefore in our own interest that we dig deeper and make informed choices about the food we buy and prepare for our families.
What are GMOs?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are life forms, plants or animals, whose genetic material or DNA has been altered so that it does not occur naturally. This allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism to another, and even to non-related species. These organisms have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits, such as increasing resistance to herbicides.
Traditionally, farmers practise selective breeding, which can be time-consuming. Genetic engineering, however, can very rapidly and accurately create organisms with the precise desired trait, especially when genes from different species are combined. For example, genes from bacteria are placed into corn to produce pest resistant corn. Genetically modified (GM) products include foods, food ingredients, animal feed, medicines, vaccines and fibres. About 70 to 75 per cent of processed foods on supermarket shelves including soda, soup, condiments and crackers contain genetically engineered ingredients.
Many consumer-protection organisations across the world have issued grave concerns over GMOs and GM foods and the health risks they can inflict on humans.
What is rBGH?
Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is yet another concern. Also known as bovine somatotropin, it is a genetically engineered variant of the natural growth hormone found in cows. Injecting this hormone into dairy cows induces them to produce more milk. However, cows treated with rBGH also develop significant health problems, such as leg and hoof ailments, mastitis or udder infections and serious reproductive disorders.
How do cow maladies affect humans? In the case of dairy cows contracting mastitis, dairy farmers also feed the cows more antibiotics to fight the infection. The antibiotic residues may also end up in milk and dairy products. When consumed, food-sensitive people may have allergic reactions to these products.
Organic food, a safe choice.
Organic foods are grown, raised and processed without drugs, hormones, synthetic chemicals or genetically modified substances. With so many potential risks lurking in the foods we eat, choosing an organic diet makes perfect sense.
This is an adaptation of the story first published in Ezyhealth & Beauty magazine, November 2008. www.ezyhealth.com
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