GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are organisms that have been altered with the help of genetic engineering techniques to work in designed ways. In the case of foods, GMOs have been developed to increase favourable traits in certain crops, for example, by making them tolerant to drought, longer growing, or more productive.
So, what does that mean for you?
An Unknown Quantity In Your Protein Powder
In terms of what you choose to eat, it means foods that have been changed from their original natural state, and with unknown consequences for those foods.
Think about it.
You’re developing a solid daily routine with work, a fitness regimen, and — of course — a nourishing vegan diet. That could mean starting your day with some tasty vegetarian protein powder pancakes, a reviving chocolate plant protein powder shake after your yoga session, and a variety of vegan protein meal recipes in the evening.
A big part of adopting a vegan lifestyle is gaining a more comprehensive awareness of what you put in your body, and that’s a conscious decision you make. Being better educated about diet and wellness means knowing the origin of your foods, how they enrich your system, and — most critically — how all components of your daily food choices come together to bring you into balance.
Using a top-rated vegan protein powder means you receive an easily digestible spectrum of basic quality requirements. MCTs, the full range of essential and non-essential amino acids, and of course effective, quick-release proteins that meet your daily needs. It’s full traceability of all ingredients so you know what you’re using. It means that you have confidence in that product that forms a basis of your diet.
Now, take that confidence away. GMOs involve open-ended experimentation on foodstuffs that, while claimed as rigorously tested by the food industry by such corporate giants as Monsanto, are not tested outside that industry according to Decodedscience.com. This means that government regulators must primarily rely on the information provided by those companies.
Scientific testing demands strict, well documented process so that all stages of experimentation can be readily understood and learned from. However, much GMO testing is not thorough enough, with testing procedures missing, questions unasked, and ‘fact-based proof’ hidden in long documentation. This means ‘unauthorised’ materials could appear in the foods sold to you.
Simply put, there are currently too many unknowns with GMO.
Dangers of GMO Vegan Protein Powders
The uncertain game of playing with genetics has led to some serious problems. Studies of GM corn and soy that were fed to mammals revealed the higher incidence of kidney and liver problems, while other research indicates an increased link to infertility, poor insulin regulation, a compromised immune system, and changes starting to appear in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.
There are potential systemic effects for your body, too. Testing has shown that GM peas developed with built-in pest resistance began to cause an allergic reaction in mice that damaged lungs. The gene that kills pests was taken from a type of bean, then transferred into the peas. Its pest resistance worked, but the side effect of the gene’s protein on the lung was unforeseen.
On its own, the gene does not cause an allergic reaction. Put it in the pea, where it was not designed to be, and the effects can be devastating.
Other GMO plants, called Bt plants, are engineered to contain insecticides. Eating the plant kills the insects, and the insects learn not to touch the plants. However, even though the insecticide is designed to target a specific insect with a protein derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, this particular bacterium happens to be almost the same as Bacillus anthracis, which you may have heard of by the name of anthrax. This similarity in protein structure is critical to understand, because similar families of proteins share similar characteristics.
A GM crop protein created to target an insect could easily evolve to target humans.
When we cannot understand the consequences of actions, we certainly cannot expect to eat GM foods and think there will be zero side effects and only benefits. GMOs are the direct opposite of the vegan approach to life. Plant proteins you find, for example, in your vegan protein powder in Australia, retain a direct link with their natural source. GM foods, on the other hand, are perverted from aeons of slow evolution to be an instant success.
Nature certainly undertook a lot more laboratory testing to ensure the foods we source from her are safe, and in fact evolved to work with us. Why would you choose to use foods that fail to benefit from all that work?
Contamination & Labelling
A further problem with GMOs is that they can easily contaminate non-GMO crops. They achieve this by doing what they would do naturally, by cross-pollinating with other nearby plants. Place a GMO field near a non-GMO field, and this gene flow happens. Even more simply, if human error is introduced (and yes, it happens!), both GMO and non-GMO seeds can easily be mixed up.
These issues make labelling GMO foods totally hazardous. As such, there is no accurate system in place to credibly label GM foods so that you, as the consumer, can rest assured that all steps in the supply chain from soil to shelf have been monitored and verified.
Food producers in Australia need to guarantee you that their ingredients are 100% GMO-free, and given the difficulties in separating GM from non-GM at production facilities, look for clear labelling that backs up claims with clear methods of contact so you can check with producers regarding the origin of their ingredients.
Trusting Vegan Protein Powder in Australia
In Australia, the issue of GMOs is big news. The positive side of this is the growing opportunities to educate yourself about the situation, and this can inform your food choices, too. Don’t undermine your vegan life choices by accepting the first chocolate plant protein powder that screams at you from the shelf. Instead, take a look at the ingredients list and insist on quality.
That means that you should be fully confident that your next protein shake is non-GMO and scientifically formulated with the complete spectrum of key nutrients that are essential for your vegan wellbeing.