As adults, we are able to inform and educate ourselves about the foods we consume and the products we expose our skin and lungs to. This allows us the luxury of choice, when it comes to purchasing foods, clothing, and skincare products that contain ingredients that may be harmful to us. But for children, this caliber of control is relegated to their parents. In a day and age where one thing seems to be safe one day and potentially hazardous the next, these choices can be difficult to make for the safety of your child, especially when it comes to the hot topic of Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMO’s. Let’s take a look at some of the things you should know about GMO’s to determine if you should be concerned about exposing your children to them.
First off, what IS an GMO?
In short, GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a lab through genetic engineering. They are found in multiple industries including agriculture, livestock rearing, medicine and genetics. GMO’s do not naturally occur in nature or through more traditional cross-breeding methods.
When it comes to agriculture and our food supply, GMOs have specifically been engineered to be resilient to the direct application of herbicide, or to produce an insecticide. In addition, they can be used to artificially influence the appearance of our food, the growth rate, and other traits.
Why might children be more sensitive to, or vulnerable to GMOs?
First of all, children grow and develop at a rapid rate. As a result, their fast-little metabolisms burn through the food they eat quickly to supply the energy and nutrients to build and grow tissues and organs. That means that if a child is ingesting potentially dangerous GMO laden foods, their body will be absorbing these chemicals at an escalated rate and even storing them in the child’s fat stores. Studies are being conducted to discern if this is impacting children’s physical and mental development.
Next, children are more susceptible to allergies than adults. The immune systems of children are building and shaping rapidly to respond to a child’s environment and protect them. Foods that have been modified heavily with GMOs may contain ingredients that your child may not only develop allergies to, but may also disrupt your child’s hormones at a pivotal time in development.
Lastly, children tend to be exposed to more GMOs because they consume more corn-based products. Corn is one of the most GMO laden foods in our entire food supply. It is also one of the most “hidden” ingredients in foods. It can be found anywhere from infant formula, cereals, breads and even beverages our children drink.
Just like children consume more corn products than the average adult, they also consume more milk products. Like corn, milk may be highly modified. Many cows are not only administered genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH) to produce a highly volume of milk, they can also be fed grains which are laden with GMO corn and soy. All of these have the potential to be passed directly into your child’s body.
Isn’t our FDA system protecting children from this?
Unfortunately, our FDA does not require any safety evaluations for GMOs. In fact, the companies that produce GMOs are put in charge of determining whether or not their foods are safe for public consumption.
To make things even more confusing, some FDA scientists have issued loose warnings that GMOs may create “unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems.”
So, what’s a parent to do? Many parents opt for the approach “better safe than sorry” for now. Many products are now clearly marked with GMO FREE labels and certain grocery stores, such as Whole Foods, strive to offer completely GMO-free products.
A GMO biologist researcher, David Schubert, warns…
“Since children are the most likely to be adversely affected by the toxins and other dietary problems, if the GM food is given to them without proper testing, they will be the experimental animals. If there are problems, we will probably never know because the cause will not be traceable and many diseases take a very long time to develop.”