Guest Author Julie Nicoletti talks GMOs

Our good friend, Julie Nicoletti, is a registered pharmacist, certified sports nutritionist, and founder of Kinetic Fuel: a company dedicated to educating and counseling athletes on proper nutrition. Today she’s tackling a rather trendy topic in nutrition: GMOs. 

WHAT IS A GMO?

A GMO is a genetically modified organism created by genetic engineering.  Scientists select traits that they would like a plant or animal to have and genetically engineer or introduce the gene that produces the desired trait. These desirable traits include:

  • Increased nutritional value (more vitamins, nutrients)
  • Increased resistance to pests (less susceptibility to insects)
  • Increased resistance to environmental hazards such as drought or frost (stronger, heartier)
  • Increased shelf life (not as perishable)

ARE GMOs SAFE TO CONSUME?

The FDA is confident that currently approved sources of genetically engineered foods are safe to consume. However, there are several criticisms against GMOs, including: tendencies to provoke allergic reaction (allergenicity), gene transfer, and outcrossing.

Allergenicity: Allergens may be transferred between foods during genetic enginerring, and new allergens may be formed. This may increase a consumer's potential for allergic reaction to GMOs.

Gene Transfer: Genes from GMOs may be transferred to cells of the body or to bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. This could pose a risk to human health, as some transferred genes may potentially be resistant to antibiotics (although studies thus far are inconclusive).

Outcrossing: The movement of genes from GM plants into conventional crops or related species in the wild (referred to as “outcrossing”), as well as the mixing of crops derived from conventional seeds with those grown using GM crops, may have an indirect effect on food safety and food security.

90% of all U.S. soybeans have been genetically engineered.

90% of all U.S. soybeans have been genetically engineered.

WHAT ARE COMMON SOURCES OF GMOs?

Currently, 40% of all corn and 90% of all soy beans produced in the United States have been genetically engineered to resist certain insects. Tomatoes, potatoes, papaya, zucchini, squash, and canola oil are also commonly engineered. Bacteria and yeast used to develop seasoning, flavoring, and processing agents are frequently modified and are commonly found in diet drinks, medicines, vitamins and nutritional supplements, gum, candies, baked goods, artificially sweetened yogurts, and dessert mixes. Meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals that have eaten GM feed, as well as, rice, wheat, and cotton have all been known to contain GMO ingredients.



WHAT CAN I DO TO REDUCE THE GMOs IN MY DIET?

Because of the many criticisms against GMOS, and the inconclusive information available regarding them, it may be beneficial to human health to avoid them as much as possible.

Look for this seal on food products in grocery stores to ensure the producer avoids GMO ingredients.

Look for this seal on food products in grocery stores to ensure the producer avoids GMO ingredients.

70% of processed foods contain at least one GMO ingredient, so limiting the amount of processed foods in your diet is one way to reduce GMO consumption.

When shopping for fruits and vegetables, especially those whose skin or peel is consumed, purchase organically grown, and when possible, locally grown produce. Farm stands and farmers markets are great ways to find minimally treated seasonal fruits and vegetables. Look for the “Non-GMO Project Verified" seal on products in the supermarket. This seal means that the producer used the best practices to avoid GMO ingredients.


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Julie Nicoletti is is a guest contributor to the Volt blog. She is a registered pharmacist, certified sports nutritionist, and founder of Kinetic Fuel. To learn more about nutrition and how it relates to sport performance, check out Kinetic Fuel!