By Jonathan Wright, Linda Larsen

GMO foods started appearing in the news in the 1980s and 1990s. These foods are made when scientists insert foreign DNA from plants or animals into cells that change the plant or animal’s traits. Some GMO foods are bred to be resistant to herbicides and pesticides. Other changes can include increasing the speed with which an animal comes to maturity or reducing the signs of produce spoilage.

In fact, one company just received FDA approval to grow genetically engineered salmon bred to grow faster. Ecologists are concerned that this salmon may escape its breeding grounds and contaminate wild salmon stocks.

Many scientists state that, because we’ve been eating GMO foods for more than a decade and no serious health effects have been uncovered, GMO foods are safe. But some illnesses take much longer than a decade or two to appear. Testing on GMO foods is controlled by the companies that own the patents on the genes, and no tests have been run longer than three months.

Most of the corn, soy, canola, and sugar beet crops grown in the United States are genetically engineered. That’s just one of the reasons why we tell you to avoid the oils made from these foods, and one more reason why it’s important to avoid sugar. Only buy the following foods in their organic form: cornmeal, edamame, tofu, miso, popcorn, and corn tortillas.

One of the problems caused by GMO crops has been the increase in the amount of herbicides farmers use on their crops. Since 1992, the use of glyphosate, the ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, has increased by more than 200 million pounds. This has spurred an epidemic of super weeds that have become resistant to the herbicides, which in turn has forced farmers to apply more and different herbicides. And the cycle continues.

Most consumer advocates believe that any foods that contain GMO crops should be labeled so consumers can choose what they eat. Huge corporations are fighting these labels, and many ballot initiatives requiring these labels have failed.

All you can do is avoid eating corn, soybean, or canola oil, and try to avoid foods with a label, especially highly processed foods. And educate yourself on this issue so you can vote on referendums when they appear on the ballot.