Even if you know that GMO isn’t the latest Clash cover band and you buy your organic potatoes and leafy greens locally grown, that doesn’t mean that you’re safe from genetically modified organisms.

In fact, GMOs are everywhere, including in some whole, fresh foods and a whopping 70 percent of processed foods (mostly those containing soy, corn, or canola oil). And they have so many potential dangers, including serious illness, that even fast-food giant McDonald’s has promised not to use GM potatoes for its fries. So whether you shop at Whole Foods or just want a whole lot of junk food, you should be – no, you need to be – concerned about where your food is coming from and what kind of genetic alteration is being done to it.

What exactly are GMOs? Typically, they are genetically altered plants that possess herbicide resistance (called Roundup Ready crops) and insecticide (Bt crops). GMOs are created by mixing plant genes with genes from other organisms, mainly bacteria and viruses, that infect cells and reproduce in order to help the plants withstand exposure to toxic herbicides. In the case of Bt crops, genetically altered insecticide is packed into every cell of the plant. Mmm, insecticide you can’t wash off!

But aren’t the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration supposed to be protecting us from harmful chemicals and genetically manipulated foods? Hardly. Recently the USDA began an initiative to take away state and county rights to make laws concerning GMOs. And the FDA has approved allowing meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring to enter our food supply. In fact, the regulatory agencies refuse to require mandatory labeling of GMO “foods,” despite the fact that 87 percent of consumers polled believe they should be.

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