A GMO (genetically modified organism) is an organism whose genetic makeup has been altered in a lab to include the genetic information of an unrelated organism. This enables organisms to be produced more efficiently, become more resistant to pests and disease and to perhaps increase their nutritional value and in turn become more economically beneficial.
So what is the concern over GMO’s? The potential for negative effects on the environment and human health are of greatest interest. Environmentally there is the potential for increased use of herbicide among others, and the change in genetic makeup means there may be alterations in the nutritional content of food which would affect human’s health directly. The biggest issue is the unknown. When certain genes are altered there may be undesirable effects that are not expected.
While growing GMO crops is not common place in New Zealand, this does not meant here aren’t GMO ingredients in our food. The GM ingredients that are sold on our supermarket shelves are assessed by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand for safety. They are usually only found in highly processed foods and often include corn, canola, soy and sugar-beet.
One way to avoid these GMO’s is to avoid highly processed foods completely. And look for GMO Free labels on packaged food.