GMO simply means genetically modified organism or the earlier definition of ‘living organism whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering’.  GMO has been around for thousands of years but the GMO we think of today have their origins in the 1970, when the agricultural company Monsanto created Roundup.  The science behind this herbicide led to the boom in DNA modification research.  

It is very likely you are eating foods and food products that are made with ingredients that come from GMO crops. Many GMO crops are used to make ingredients that Americans eat such as cornstarch, corn syrup, corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, or granulated sugar. A few fresh fruit and vegetables are available in GMO varieties, including potatoes, corn, summer squash, apples, papayas, and pink pineapples.  

In the U.S., GMO soybeans, wheat, corn, canola and sugar beets made up >90% of those planted in the U.S. As GMO technology has advanced, the FDA has recently approved GMO Salmon allowing faster growth and Alpha-gal free pork for those with Alpha-gal syndrome (SGS). 

So Why are Crops Being Genetically Modified? 

As the world population continues to grow, the demand for food, both grain and animal protein, is growing. Some GMO products such as Golden Rice are fortified with vitamin to enhance the nutritional value.   

GMO crops are engineered to produce their own built-in pesticide in every cell. If a bug bites into a plant, the poison splits open their stomach and kills them. GMO crops are more tolerant to herbicides, such as Roundup (glyphosate) which are sprayed on the crop to prevent weeds.  All this produces a larger yield at a faster rate and with less waste.   

Although GMOs are in a lot of the foods we eat, most of the GMO crops grown in the United States are used for animal food. More than 95% of animals used for meat and dairy in the U.S. eat GMO crops according to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).    

What is the Negative? 

While GMO products seem to be solving the problem of hunger, health concerns are rising. There seems to be more than a casual association between GMO and adverse health effects.  

You may be old enough to remember the 1960s slogan ‘You are what you eat’.  This was the first movement for organic food in this country. There is some concern that the gene inserted in GMO foods transfers into the bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function.  This gene transfer is thought to be driving the increase in gastrointestinal problems and inflammatory illnesses such as asthma, allergies, heart/vessel disease, diabetes and obesity, just to name a few.   

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAME) states, ‘multiple animal studies show significant immune dysregulation’ which are associated with asthma, allergy and inflammation, all of which are on the rise in this country. 

The FDA wants to assure us that GMO fed animals do NOT affect the health and safety of the animal or the consumer and  does not need any evidence to prove this claim. As of 2021, there are nineteen countries that chose not to grow GMOs mainly France and Germany. 

The GMO movement is nowhere near a balance between pros and cons. Personally, I avoid GMO products as much as possible and encourage others to do the same. 

Dr. Julie Wood is a Nurse Practitioner and has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for more than 30 years, specializing in adults with obesity, prediabetes and diabetes. Office is located at 401 First Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, TN and statewide with telehealth. Dr. Wood can be reached at 931-325-5560,, 

Articles are meant to be informative and should never replace the advice of your health care provider.