Soybeans are the second-largest food crop grown in the US, and more than 90 percent of it is genetically modified (GM). Currently, no GM soybeans are grown in Australia, but there are other varieties of foods that are. These include cotton and canola. Genetically modified cotton is used to create cooking products (and is sometimes added to stockfeed,) and GM canola is found in cooking oil, margarine, tinned and snack foods.
However, imported into Australia are the following: genetically modified soybean, potato, sugar beets and corn. Whether you know it or not, GM foods are present in a large number of processed foods, in the form of preservatives and flavour enhancers. They are also present in the animal products we consume to some degree, as livestock are often fed grain that contains GM corn and soybean products.
Why are these foods dangerous to health?
While those that stand to profit from the situation would like Australians to believe that GM products are absolutely safe to consume, this is simply not the case.
Genetically modified products contain altered DNA to make them more resistant to drought, pests and diseases that can reduce crop yield. This is done by either adding or subtracting certain genes from the plant. In some cases, the plant DNA is modified to include viral DNA, to make the organism immune to that particular virus. Unfortunately for the consumer, that means that they are ingesting plant and viral material.
While the world’s population continues to grow at a rapid rate, and fears increasing that the food supply may not be able to keep up, genetic modification to increase crop yield may seem like a good idea – but the truth is that the long term affects of consuming GMO foods have not yet been determined.
A recent study found that pigs fed with genetically modified soy and maize showed substantially increased levels of stomach inflammation compared to those who ate non-GM food. Chronic inflammation is a major cause of cancer.
Monsanto, the world’s largest supplier of genetically modified seeds, has modified the DNA of their products to withstand their main herbicide ‘Roundup’, so that when the crops are sprayed, they don’t die. A recent scientific report showed that Roundup residue was found in food stuffs meant for human consumption. The report linked Roundup to the development of many chronic diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, cancer and infertility (both male and female). 
GMO labelling in Australia.
In Australia, the labelling of GM foods is required by law. However, if the food product is highly processed (as many prepackaged foods are), the manufacturer does not have to supply this information on the label. Unfortunately, this is where most of genetically modified foods end up and the unsuspecting consumer never knows any different.
How to avoid genetically modified foods…
The best way is to buy organic whenever possible. Certified organic foods are free from genetic modification, herbicides and pesticides. They can be more expensive, but evidence shows that they contain higher amounts of nutrients than their artificial counterparts.
Avoiding processed or packaged foods is a good idea in general. They often contain high amounts of sugar, salt and usually trans fats too, so avoiding the purchase of these products is helpful, even if you’re not concerned about the GM component.
While we have yet to understand completely the affect that genetically modified foods will have on human health in the long term, it is clear that the short term benefit of producing high yield crops will put us at a disadvantage sooner or later. Throughout the world campaigning continues, to stop big producers like Monsanto from continuing GM practices at the ultimate expense of the consumer.
Source: Mercola.com – GMO Update—Vermont Passes GMO Labeling Bill and Stands Up to Industry Bullying as New Research Confirms Safety Concerns. May 6th , 2014.
 Carman, J.A et al. A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM maize diet. Journal of Organic Systems. Vol 8-1, June 2013.