Today we are featuring 3 Questions to Cape Cod Mom Advisor: Heidi Ingram.. If you have questions for Heidi or ANY of our Cape Cod Mom Advisors, please e-mail them to: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get them answered.
I was wondering if you could discuss GMO foods and how they affect our children, whether we should exclude them completely or limit them since it may be hard to avoid completely. ~ Emily, Truro
Genetically-modified foods (GM foods) have made a big splash in the news lately. European environmental organizations and public interest groups have been actively protesting GM foods for months , and recent controversial studies about the effects of genetically-modified corn pollen on monarch butterfly caterpillars have brought the issue of genetic engineering to the forefront of the public consciousness, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) held three open meetings in Chicago, Washington, DC and Oakland, California to solicit public opinions and begin the process of establishing a new regulatory procedure for government approval of GM foods.
What are genetically-modified foods? The term GM foods or GMO (genetically-modified organisms) is most commonly used to refer to crop plants created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques. These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content. The enhancement of desired traits has traditionally been undertaken through breeding, but conventional plant breeding methods can be very time
consuming and are often not very accurate. Genetic engineering, on the other hand, can create plants with the exact desired trait very rapidly and with great accuracy. For example, plant geneticists can isolate a gene responsible for drought tolerance and insert that gene into a different plant. The new genetically-modified plant will gain drought tolerance as well.
What plants are involved? According to the FDA and the USDA there are over 40 plant varieties which include tomatoes and cantaloupes that have modified ripening characteristics, soybeans and sugar beets that are resistant to herbicides, and corn and cotton plants with increased resistance to insect pests. While there are very, very few genetically-modified whole fruits and vegetables available on produce stands, highly processed foods, such as vegetable oils or breakfast cereals, most likely contain some tiny percentage of genetically-modified ingredients because the raw ingredients have been pooled into one processing stream from many different sources.
What are the human health risks? Allergenicity...many children in the US and Europe have developed life-threatening allergies to peanuts and other foods. There is a possibility that introducing a gene into a plant may create a new allergen or cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals. Unknown effects on human health...there is a growing concern that introducing foreign genes into food plants may have an unexpected and negative impact on human health. A recent article published by Lancet examined the effects of GM potatoes on the digestive tract in rats. This study claimed that there were appreciable differences in the intestines of rats fed GM potatoes and rats fed unmodified potatoes.
Conclusion...Many people feel that genetic engineering is the inevitable wave of the future and that we cannot afford to ignore a technology that has such enormous potential benefits. However, we must proceed with caution to avoid causing unintended harm to human health and the environment as a result of our enthusiasm for this powerful but scary technology.
Bottom line use your gut instinct, there is too much unknown about these foods to give a definitive answer as to whether we should exclude them completely or even know if we are consuming them...be your on advocate!
My son likes to eat the same thing for breakfast every day, eggs. Should I be worried about cholesterol with the amount he is consuming? ~Molly, Wareham
The myth about the link between eating eggs and their effect on blood cholesterol has been a hard shell
to crack and a topic registered dietitian Keith Ayoob, Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of medicine and the Director of the Nutrition Clinic at the Rose Kennedy Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center, often address with this clients. When it comes to assessing the risk of heart disease, the ratio of "bad" LDL-cholesterol to "good" HDL-cholesterol is one of the best known and proven indicators. " It is important that we clear up all the confusion that surrounds what people should or shouldn't eat to reduce their risk of heart disease" says Ayoob. "Egg consumption does not significantly impact the LDL:HDL ratio, so enjoying an egg or two a day can fall within current cholesterol guidelines,
particularly if you eat lower-cholesterol nutrient- rich foods throughout the rest of the day, like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Follow these guidelines with your son and he should be fine but feel free to check with your physician.
How do I control my night time hunger? With all the stress of day to day life and raising my daughter the night hunger is getting to me! ~ Kirsten, Sandwich
Night hunger is generally in direct correlation to what you are consuming during the day. I would suggest you start a daily food diary of what you’re eating during the course of several days. After reviewing what
you wrote down, take note of what you have and haven’t been eating and or drinking...often times people confuse hunger with thirst. Generally I suggest you consume 3 to 4 small meals throughout the day
which include a good source of protein such as yogurt, peanut butter or cottage cheese as well as some carbs such as whole grain crackers or toast, pasta or cereal and a clean fat, (no partially hydrogenated fats) such as olive oil, avocado and all types of nuts but especially almonds and walnuts. Some fat is essential to keep you feeling satisfied and full longer and always eat as many fruits and vegetables you can stand. Finally be sure you are consuming enough fluids throughout the day, strive for at least 6-8 ounces of water three to five times a day as well as getting enough exercise to help curb those hunger pangs.
In regards to GMO foods. One of the main manufacturers of genetically modified seeds in the country is Monsanto, who also manufactures the top selling herbicide (Roundup). So GMO corn can be planted and doused with Roundup to easily kill off all the weeds making harvest easier and faster. On top of the unknown effects of long-term consumption of genetically modified foods (which may turn out to be nothing to worry about or a significant health risk, not enough studies have been done to determine this) GMO corn is grown in a bath of weed killer. The impact that can have on your health as well as the impact that has on our environment are other factors to consider. Even if it is proven that GMO plants are safe to consume, you must also consider the other implications involved in the process (the corn may be safe, but it was sprayed with herbicide while it grew). The biggest issue right now is that as a consumer you have no way of knowing which products contain GMOs and which don't. If you are interested in more information regarding your rights as a consumer, check out the "Just Label It!" website at: justlabelit.org.
7/6/2012 07:14:12 am
GREAT information on GMO's. Everyone should know this!
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