Only 1 in 4 consumers in the United States are aware that they have been eating GM foods at one or another point in their lives. So what are GM foods and what’s the big deal?
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic. This process is different from traditional cross breeding breeding in that it breaks the inter spices barriers set up by nature. For example, inserting fish genes into tomatoes, human genes into corn, lettuce genes into tobacco and so on.
When applied to food, genetic engineering is rarely done for the health values. It is the economic gain that large food corporations like Monsanto are after. For example, the new ability of the plant to produce it’s own pesticide makes the plant poisonous thereby deterring and killing insects that normally would feed on the plant. This eliminates the need of pesticide sprays. Unfortunately the plants become not only toxic to insects but to other living organisms that are consuming the plant.
A good example would be of the farmers in India that let their sheep graze on the cotton plants. Shortly after, the sheep have died.
Research have never shown GM foods to be safe. There were no credible studies done on humans to show that GM foods are safe and the results from the studies done on animals are disturbing – precancerous cell growth, damaged immune systems, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partial atrophy or increased density of the liver, odd shaped cell nuclei and other unexplained anomalies, false pregnancies and higher death rates.
One study stands out to me is when the rats had refused to eat GM tomatoes but were force fed and developed stomach lesions and several died within a few weeks. The tomato was still approved for the market but later was taken off.
You can view the 65 health risks from the book Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith.
In the U.S., around 80 percent of all packaged foods contain GMOs. Around 85 percent of the corn, sugar beets, soybeans and canola in the country are grown from GMO seeds.
GM crops in the US for 2008: soy (91%), cotton (88%), canola (88%), corn (85%), Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%), zucchini and yellow squash (small amount), and tobacco (Quest® brand).
One might argue that we have been eating GM foods without side-effects for many years, but the fact is that no one is monitoring the health effects of GM foods and it could be many years because we identify the culprit.
One might also think that FDA keeps our interest at hand and would prevent something as controversial and dangerous as GMO’s from entering the food chain. In reality the FDA does not require safety studies and relies solely on information supplied by the biotech companies.
“At one point FDA’s scientists did warn that GM foods might create toxins, allergies, nutritional problems, and new diseases that might be difficult to identify. Internal FDA memos reveal that the scientists urged their superiors to require long-term safety testing to catch these hard-to-detect side effects. Not only nothing was done, but in the case of genetically modified bovine growth hormone, some FDA scientists who expressed concerns were harassed, stripped of responsibilities, or fired. “
As you have probably guessed, there are no laws that would require companies to label foods that contain GM ingredients.
So what can we do? We can do what people around the world have been doing all along and demand an end to GM crops.
“All over the world, regions and even nations are demanding an end to GM crop cultivation. Twenty-two countries in Europe have regions wanting to be GM-free. States in Australia, regions in New Zealand and Brazil, the countries of Venezuela, Zambia, Sudan, Angola, and others, all want to be GM-free. Thus, world markets are shrinking. In 2009, Germany joined France, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Austria, Poland and Romania in baning Monsanto’s Mon 810 GM corn because of its documented hazards to biodiversity and human health. In 2007 over three million Italians signed a petition, declaring their opposition to GM crops in their country. In Europe over 175 regions and over 4,500 municipalities have declared themselves GM-free zones. In Spain alone this includes over 50 municipalities and regions like Asturias, the Canary Islands and the Basque country.
Europe has greater rejection of GMOs due to a more balanced reporting by their press on the health and environmental dangers. In Europe, at least 174 regions, more than 4,500 councils and local governments have declared themselves GM free.”
For more information on what actions you can take to keep you and your family GMO – free, visit “The Most Comprehensive Source of GMO Health Risk”