What are GMOs?

Man has discovered a way to “break into” the DNA of crops and add genes to make the crop have properties that are convenient for the grower and seller of the crop.  For example, soy growers have often had trouble with weeds growing in.  When they sprayed herbicide to kill the weeds, it often killed the soy plant as well.  For this reason, soy is typically genetically modified for the purpose of resisting the herbicide treatment so the plant lives and the weeds die.  Unfortunately, now you have soy that is covered with chemicals so hazardous that it should kill the plant itself, and a genetically modified food that has potential health concerns.
There are research studies that confirm the negative health effects of genetically modified foods (1-4). There are numerous documentaries that discuss the corruption in this industry for those that want to learn more (5-13).  Steven M Drucker opposes GMO and has written extensively on this issue as it relates to Kashrut (14).
Torah ThoughtThe laws of Kashrut are very specific and do not necessarily include other Torah commandments.  For example, the Torah says that we should treat animals humanely, but this is not under the laws of kashrut. So animals that are slaughtered for kosher consumption may satisfy the kosher laws without being treated humanely prior to the slaughter process.
“Guard yourself and guard your soul very carefully” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10). The classic commentator Kli Yakar explains: “‘Guard yourself’ means taking care of the body.”  Similarly, foods that are not good for the body are not prohibited or limited under the laws of Kashrut. GMOs cannot be considered “unkosher” based on health concern alone.  Kashrut law does not prohibit GMOs so it can be found in products with a hechsher.  Cholov Israel products are considered at a higher “Kashrut” level then regular “kosher dairy”. But the higher level does not mean that the other non-cholov Israel products are not kosher. Only that it is a higher kashrut level. The same way we are not stating that only organic products are kosher. We are stating that kosher and organic together are a healthier choice to take care of our body. And that taking care of our bodies is not part of the kosher laws, but it is a commandment in other areas of the Torah.
Part of our mission at Kosher Organics is to increase awareness and availability of healthy (GMO free) options.  There are plenty of kosher products that say GMO free or Organic in the health food stores.  More and more grocery stores and kosher markets are starting to carry these products due to increased demand.
“Guard yourself”
There is a good chance that a product has GMOs in it if the ingredients were produced in the United States and it has cottonseed oil, canola oil/grape seed oil, soy, or corn in it (unless certified otherwise).
Try to limit unhealthy foods and increase your intake of fruits and vegetables.  Don’t forget to read labels.  If you see high fructose corn syrup, soy, cottonseed or canola oil, etc in the ingredients:
  1. Try and find a healthier alternative
  2. Limit how much you eat and how often you consume this product
Hashem in his infinite wisdom created these crops.  Hashem gave us free will, and the wisdom to be able to alter his creations.  Based on research of the negative effects of GMOs it seems that we cannot yet alter the crops Hashem created without having negative side effects.  So do we use our free will to support efforts to try and “perfect” Hashem’s creation? Or do we use our free will to spiritually elevate fruits and vegetables (GMO free), by eating them for the purpose of “guarding yourself”.
For references 1-4 you can copy and paste them into the search engine at www.pubmed.com and see the full abstract to the study on negative effects of GMOs.
  1. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2007 May;52(4):596-602
  2. Int J Biol Sci. 2009 Dec 10;5(7):706-26.
  3. Int J Biol Sci. 2010 Oct 5;6(6):590-8.
  4. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009 Feb;49(2):164-75.
  5. The World According to Monsanto
  6. The Future of Food
  7. Food Inc.
  8. Genetically Modified Food Panacea or Poison?
  9. Seeds of Deception, Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating
  10. The GMO Trilogy, Why genetically Modified Organisms threaten your health, the environment and future generations
  11. Hidden Dangers in Kids’ Meals, Genetically Engineered Foods
  12. Bad Seed, The truth about our food
  13. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_27692.cfm
  14. http://www.biointegrity.org/Halakha.html