Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ April 2014

Holistic Health

Healthy Eating Starts with No GMO Foods

By Anna R. Pritchard

Genetic engineering is “probably one of the most technologically powerful developments the world has ever seen,” says EPA toxicologist Suzanne Wuerthele.  Unlike conventional plant breeding, GE usually involves the transfer of foreign genes — i.e., genes not previously present in a species — into a different organism.  In GE, scientists transfer genetic information, or DNA — the genetic material, and molecular basis of heredity — from one or more organisms across species’ boundaries into a host organism to create an entirely new GE organism.  The transferred DNA can be from a plant, animal, bacteria, or virus, and the host organism is usually a plant or animal.

The two main traits that have been engineered in our food crops to date are herbicide tolerance, so that the farmers can spray weed killer directly on the crop to control the weeds without killing it, and pesticide resistance, in which the plant makes its own pesticide.

Definitions of Terms

Acronym Meaning Definitions of Terms
GE Genetic Engineering The standard U.S. term for this new technology
GM Genetically Modified The food has been genetically changed from its original state
GMO Genetically Modified Organism The food — plant or animal — produced from genetic engineering (also called biotech foods, bio-engineered foods, gene altered foods, etc.)

According to the World Health Organization, the three main issues of concern for human health about GMOs are:

Because of these health concerns and because the European Union and other countries will not purchase our unlabeled GMO food, there is currently legislation on this issue going through the process to become law in Maryland.  Last month, hearings were held in both the State House (18 March on HB1191) and Senate (11 March on SB778) on the Mandatory Labeling of GMO Foods bill, but — as of press time — neither has been reported out yet (i.e., no action has been taken).

The bill will:  (1) require specified raw foods and packaged foods that are entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering to display a specified label beginning on 1 July 2015; (2) require a manufacturer to include a specified label on specified foods; (3) require a supplier to include a specified label on a container used for packaging, holding, or transporting specified foods; and (4) require a retailer to place a specified label on a shelf or bin containing specified foods, among other things.  You can read the text of the bill and track its status at

According to the bill (both House and Senate versions are identical), “currently there is not a federal or state requirement to label genetically engineered food, but 64 countries, including Japan, South Korea, China, Australia, Russia, India, European Union member states, and other key United States trading partners already have laws mandating food labels on genetically engineered food.”

Protecting Yourself

Until the bills are passed and the law becomes effective, here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your families from the possible health risks associated with GMO food:

  1. Buy organic.  By law, certified organic food cannot contain GE ingredients.

  2. Buy products that are labeled “Non-GMO.”  There is now a third party certification program in place and many products in health food stores display this colorful label.

  3. Buy products listed on the “Non-GMO Shopping Guide.”  Available from the

  4. Avoid “at risk” ingredients.  The “at risk” ingredients are:  soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar from sugar beets, and about 50% of Hawaiian papaya, zucchini, and crooked neck yellow squash.  Unless foods containing these ingredients are certified organic, or display the Non-GMO label, they probably are GMO.  Despite what some claim, even oil has been shown to contain DNA and, hence, can be altered.

[Pritchard is a licensed massage therapist, certified Montessori teacher, nutritional counselor, R.N., and earned a Doctorate Degree in Naturopathy.  She also is trained in reiki for animals.  She lives on Ladson Road and can be reached at (contact information redacted).]    ■

   © 2014 NFCCA  [Source:]