As a parent, you watch what you feed your child. You want to ensure your little ones get the best foods and ingredients to help their tiny bodies grow. Over the last decade, a significant push in the parenting community has been to popularize organic foods.
Many foods at the grocery store are GMOs. Not all GMO foods are bad for you or your little one, but some studies indicate that children might be more susceptible to some ingredients than others.
What Makes It a GMO?
The term GMO is not uncommon, but many people do not know its meaning. A GMO is a genetically modified organism. As it relates to groceries, GMOs can represent produce and animal products.
Genetically engineered or bioengineered foods are safe, according to the FDA. Still, some foods get a bad reputation because of byproducts, like Bt-toxin from genetically modified corn.
Genetic modification is a process that stems back thousands of years. In the early days of bioengineering, farmers crossbred animals and mixed crops. The modifications were attempts to:
- Improve yields
- Reduce crop loss
- Improve nutrition
- Encourage longevity
Regardless of the reasons, new studies point to possible conflicts between GMOs and children's health. Thus, you may want to be more selective on your grocery runs.
What Are the Three Types of GMOs?
Different GMOs require different production or farming methods. There are three methods for altering food:
- Traditional modification
- Genetic engineering
- Genome editing
Traditional crop modification is the process of selective breeding or cross-breeding to produce a new plant. The method of breeding plants is cross-pollinating.
Genetic engineering is a more selective and advanced process for GMO production. A scientist copies the gene with the desired trait from one organism and transfers it to another. For instance, the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) occurs naturally in soil. Scientists copy Bt and implant it in corn, creating insect-resistant corn.
Genome editing is the most evolved process of developing new crop varieties. The process provides a more targeted and precise approach to modifying crops faster and more reliable than traditional methods.
Common GMO Foods
Consumers likely eat some GMO crops or foods. Many GMOs become ingredients in other foods, such as granulated sugar, corn syrup, canola oil, etc. Additionally, the U.S. grows and sells several GMO crops. Some of the most common GMO crops include:
- Summer Squash
- Sugar beets
GMO animals, such as genetically modified salmon, may soon be in the food supply. However, the threat of GMOs in animal proteins is currently slim. Livestock, such as cows, chickens, and pigs, might consume GMO foods, but the DNA from the GMO does not transfer to the animal.
How Can GMOs Affect Your Child's Health
GMOs do not seem to affect as much as they might affect children. Infants and small children are still developing. The blood-brain barrier is thinner in young children, allowing contaminants to cross the threshold.
Too often, the toxicity levels of GMOs are not tested against potential effects on children. While it is challenging to state precisely and scientifically what adverse effects may afflict children, parents may want to be cautious about the foods they provide.
How To Avoid GMOs
The best way to avoid GMOs and reduce potential risks is to purchase USDA-certified organic foods or Non-GMO Project Verified goods and foods. Certified-organic foods and supplements, such as Wellements products, are non-GMO. The Non-GMO Project is the only independent North American verifying body for avoiding GMOs.
GMOs are a part of produce and food production. While the FDA deems such products safe for consumption, there is not enough research about the effects on children, especially little ones. As a parent, you might want to focus on certified-organic products and supplements to ensure your child remains happy and healthy.