The quality of food that we put in our bodies significantly affects our health. Generally, organic food tends to be better for the environment and for our bodies. Organic produce doesn’t contain pesticide residue and is able to grow through organic agriculture, instead of GMO crops made through genetic engineering. However, while they are good for us, the price is significantly more than genetically modified food, which may dissuade people from buying them.
Most individuals do not fully understand the significance between GMO and non GMO foods. People assume that non-GMO foods are the same thing as organic. This is not always the case.
What Does GMO Mean?
GMO is the acronym for a genetically modified organism. GMO produce either have molecules added or removed from their DNA strand. The purpose of this is to enhance the food in some fashion. A gene may be placed into the organism that shouldn’t be there. The genes themselves tend to be from bacteria or viruses. Genetic modification alters the way that conventionally grown fruit is typically grown.
These types of foods are created to produce higher nutrition for the food and to make it resistant to pests that can destroy it.
While it appears to be unnatural to alter foods in this way, there are a few benefits to GMO foods:
- It costs less to produce them.
- There are fewer weeds to contend with.
- Sweeter taste to products such as fruits.
- Higher nutritional value to generate better health benefits to customers.
The cons are just as great for GMO foods:
- Superweeds can resist herbicides
- Plants sometimes generate bacterial toxins.
- Humans are ingesting toxins and bacteria.
- GMO foods are new to humans and are sometimes responsible for allergic reactions.
- Although rare, cancer can increase due to altered chemicals in food.
Now, over 60 countries require GMO labeling. Another 26 countries partially ban genetically modified food.
Should GMO Food be Avoided?
This question is subject to debate. Avoiding them boils down to factors concerning being environmentally responsible and healthy.
A genetically modified crop uses more chemical pesticides because the plants have a higher tolerance to the chemicals. Farms and the environment, in general, have more exposure to these chemicals, causing greater pollution levels to our ecosystem.
Regarding our health, there has been little research done into this topic. Some people tend to believe that consuming foods that have been modified can be harmful because they are unnatural. While it seems like a logical debate, there is no hard evidence to support this claim.
Products that are classified as organic don’t contain synthetic herbicides, chemicals, pesticides, drug residue, antibiotics, or neurotoxins. They are more expensive, however, because they need increased care to thrive. They also need to be certified.
Pesticides in organic farms need to be organically approved prior to consumption which increases costs. Organic foods may be almost 50% more than regular items.
The pros of consuming organic foods are as follows:
- They don’t use pesticides, so they are environmentally friendly
- Products like Round-Up cannot be used to remove weeds
- Organic crops do not use a neurotoxin (hexane) that is found in vegetable oils
- Meats are void of growth hormones which is linked to cardiovascular issues
- Animals that are raised do not have any antibiotics- they won’t have any harmful toxins when consumed.
On paper, it may appear much healthier to adopt this route. However, some cons include:
- More expensive
- Not every food store contains a wide selection of organic products
- They quickly go bad
- Increased bacteria levels
- No major benefit to overall nutrition
How Does this Relate to Bananas?
As mentioned, GMO bananas are sprayed with chemicals: herbicides, insecticides, and synthetic fertilizers. Workers are exposed to these toxins as well leading to skin problems and having the kidneys fail.
While it seems silly to be concerned with this aspect due to the fact only the skin is exposed to chemicals, it is not. These chemicals go into the soil where the fruit grows and receives its nutrients. So, even though the peel is removed, you are still eating these toxins.
Organic producers use natural fertilizers and depend on insects over pesticides. They tend to have a higher nutrient level such as antioxidants.
As to definitively concluding, which is better, it is hard to say. We know that GMO foods have altered DNA strands and are designed to last longer. They are also created to increase health as well. However, the methods that food undergoes in this process is not natural. This makes people question whether we are receiving the same nutrients from these superfoods.
Again, this is difficult to determine without cold, hard facts when it comes to bananas. Even though they are grown on a tree, toxins can reach the inside of the banana through the root system in the tree that brings nutrients up to the banana. Are we consuming the toxins? Probably. How harmful are they? We don’t really know the extent of their effects on human anatomy yet.
When we look at the factual differences between the two, organic bananas tend to bruise easier and are more prone to damage. Customers say that they tend to taste better as well. In an analysis of multiple studies of conventional vs. organic produce, it was found that organic foods do appear to reduce exposure to pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Organic foods may contain higher flavonoids and may taste better. However, it was too close to tell statistically, so, more research needs to be done on taste and nutritional value.
With regular bananas, you save money as they are less expensive. They are more consistent in what is produced. Regular bananas look better and have fewer defects. Bananas in general release ethylene gas causing them to ripen. GMO bananas are sprayed with this gas prior to being placed on the shelves.
Organic bananas do not undergo the same treatment and are unripe when bought from the store. People tend to wait for the bananas to ripen before eating them or use tips/tricks to quickly ripen them.
Overall, the differences are nominal. Bananas in general are not placed on the dirty dozen list in terms of absorbing pesticides, so the health implications are small. If you want to err on the side of caution, organic bananas would be a wise choice overall. However, between the two, there are no real significant health differences.