Organic 101: Is Organic Food A GMO?

In 2002, the Philippines was the first country in Asia to approve the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) corn for animal feeds. Around 70% of the country’s corn output is GM. Furthermore, for more than a decade now, it has allowed the importation of GM crops into the country.

You might be wondering, is organic food a GMO? A lot of people are not aware of what a GMO, or genetically modified organism is. Critics have raised that this kind of technology is dangerous, while advocates continues to stress that such ill effects are not yet scientifically proven.

But what exactly is GMO and how is it done?

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How is a genetic modification in food done?

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are made by altering the genes of said organisms. Scientist remove one or more genes in the DNA of one organism, then recombine them with the DNA of the organism they want to alter.

By doing so, it is expected that the genetically modified organism will exhibit the certain traits associated with the genes that were recombined.

But why produce GMO in the first place? It is believed that doing so will yield positive results such as better crop yield, bug- and pesticide-resistant plants, improved nutritional values, and improved flavors. Again, there are critics that say this technology is dangerous.

Why are GMOs not safe?

Genetic manipulation might lead to disruptions of the function of the genes, creating new substances that could be dangerous to people when ingested. This might create or else increase allergens, and even create new toxins.

Another reason is that this method is considered to be a radical technology.

Plant breeders are capable of cross-breeding plants, but they deal with the same species to create new varieties. However, with GMO technology, you can use the DNA of any living organism and transfer it to other organisms.

This is possible even if they’re not of the same species, and without having to consider the side-effects of such a process.

According to critics, this is not just dangerous to humans, but non-GMO plants as well, since they are then at risk of being contaminated.

In what way can GMO affect non-GMO?

When planting organic products, it is strictly prohibited to use any kind of synthetic chemicals. This includes fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides. However, organic produce are still at risk of getting contaminated by GMO.

This contamination can happen in the following natural ways. First, through cross-pollination between a GMO and a non-GMO plant. This can be done through insects, especially if a nearby farm has GMO plants.

Second is from GMO seeds transferred via wind or birds, and then planted in soil near organic crops. Even conventional farms can be contaminated with GMO. They can come in a form of animal feeds and other ingredients.

Should we worry about GMO?

Despite different criticisms on GMO, advocates continue to have a positive outlook over GMO. According to them, negative claims against GMO are yet to be scientifically proven. Moreover, GMO are said to help in ensuring food security.

To answer the question, organic farming doesn’t produce GMO crops; instead, it’s contamination from GMO crops remains a threat. Nevertheless, with proper management, organic farmers can ensure that they are contamination-free. For more about organic products, visit Davao Organics.