This week, two leaves and a bud announced that we've recently received verification from the Non-GMO Project, a non-profit collaboration of manufacturers, retailers, distributors, farmers, seed companies, and consumers dedicated to the shared mission of ensuring the sustained availability of non-GMO natural and organic products. By becoming officially verified by the Non-GMO project, tea connoisseurs can feel confident that when they’re drinking their favorite two leaves and a bud tea, they’re only consuming a natural product that has gone through the rigorous third-party verification of GMO avoidance practices.
This is some exciting news, right? Except, you may be asking, “What the heck is a GMO?”
A GMO is a genetically modified organism that is created through gene-splicing techniques of biotechnology (also known as genetic engineering). This technology allows DNA from one species to be injected into another species in a laboratory – creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Genetic engineering is often used to create plants with an exact, desired trait. For example, scientists may extract an isolated gene from one plant that is tolerant to droughts into a completely different variety of plant in order to produce a tolerance to drought in that plant as well. Or, in order to create a fruit without those pesky seeds, scientists may lean towards genetic engineering.
One of the best known examples of genetically modified foods is the use of Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring bacterium that produces crystal proteins that are lethal to insect larvae. Bacillus thuringiensis crystal protein genes have been transferred into corn, enabling the corn to produce its very own pesticides against insects, such as the European corn borer. Currently, soybeans and corn are the two most widely grown, genetically modified crops.
Most concerns about genetically modified foods are environmental or health related. For example, while the use of Bacillus thuringiensis in corn may have enabled the corn to produce its own pesticides against certain insects, it is not possible to design a Bacillus thuringiensis toxin that would only kill crop-damaging pest and remain harmless to all other insects – which may have a benefit to other plant life or organisms.
From a health risk perspective, some experts are concerned that there is a possibility that introducing a gene into a plant may create a new allergen or cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Consider introducing a gene from a nut into a soybean and what effect that could potentially have on a person who susceptible to nut allergies.
Ultimately, the main health concern at this time is … well, that no one is for certain what the health impacts may be! While many scientists believe that genetically modified foods do not present a risk to human health, many proponents of not consuming genetically modified foods believe there simply hasn't been significant research conducted to completely rule out any long-term or substantial health issues.
At two leaves and a bud, we’re not scientists or experts on genetically modified organisms, by any means. However, we do consider ourselves experts in a tea and knowing what our customers want, which is a great tasting cuppa’ tea that is organic (whenever possible) and natural. By partnering with the Non-GMO Project, we were able to simply provide tea consumers with an opportunity to make an informed choice when it comes to GMOs.
We’re curious … how do you feel about GMOs? Are you excited to see this type of labeling on consumer products?