As a child I was extremely picky. I wouldn’t mix my foods, and I would only eat stuff that I was well acquainted with. My mother often thought I was starving because I seemed to eat very little. What she didn’t know was that I was sitting, most of the afternoon, in the cherry tree picking and munching on cherries, or sneaking raw nuts from the cupboard. I was a grazer, eating many healthy foods but just not interested in eating meals. There is a kind of wisdom in childhood finickiness. We evolved as a species by having children who were picky eaters. This protected them from foods that might make them sick or even kill them. Nature built children to be safe.
By the time we’re adults we’ve widened our palates to include more foods. But some of the foods we ate as children are very different from the foods we eat today. They often look the same, but genetically there are big differences. Scientists are modifying many of our foods genetically in order to manipulate the characteristics of the food. They aren’t very exacting with their changes however, and often other genes are turned on or off in the process of changing one gene. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea considering that some these foods have genes that have only been around for a few decades.
The jury is really still out on Genetically Modified Foods. Some of the most common GMO’s in our diets include corn, beets (used in sugar), canola, soy beans, cottonseed (for oil), papaya, zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, and alfalfa (animal feed). It’s true that genetic modification has been done at the organism level for the last 10,000 years since agriculture began. But now we are beginning to modify foods at the cellular level. We’re crossing species boundaries to create brand new kinds of foods. Scientists are putting genes from bacteria and animals into plants. Even human genes have been tested. Some people call this “cell-invasion technology”. Scientists working for biochemical companies are manipulating certain genes to have benefits, like resistance to herbicides. Then farmers can spray herbicides, like Round-up, all over the fields (in record amounts). That kills everything else in the field but their product. Many soil scientists think that this could kill the soil in years to come. Other scientists are noticing a huge drop in important insect populations such as bees and monarch butterflies from the excessive spraying of GM crops.
The GMO issue is extremely complicated. As I have read many sides of the issue I find that, as in all things, nothing is actually black or white. There may be some new species that are being invented that would really benefit mankind, like the new golden rice. It has been engineered to have Vitamin A in its genetic structure. This could be extremely helpful in countries with problems with vitamin A deficiency. However there are other modifications that are questionable. What can we trust?
Many diseases are on the rise in our society since GMO’s have been introduced. There is correlation here, but not causation. This means we need to sit up and begin to take notice. Almost all of the research that has been done on genetically modified foods is by the industries producing them. Much more outside research is yet to come. There are scientists at the FDA who believe that some GMO foods may be inherently dangerous. There is no real scientific consensus on their safety. The World Health Organization has failed GMO corn, soy and papaya because they contain amino acids that are similar to known allergens. They contain new proteins that have never been part of the human food chain before. These new organisms could create allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. No human clinical trials of genetically modified foods have ever been conducted. Since many of these foods are now in our food supply, it appears that we are the lab mice.
75% of processed foods we eat are genetically modified. 90% of the soy and 85% of the corn in this country are genetically modified. Much of the feed we give to the livestock in the United States comes from round-up ready GMO crops like soy, corn, cottonseed, canola mash, sugar beet pulp, and even alfalfa. So not only are the animals eating a new genetically modified food that is not actually their diet (cows are grass eaters), but it is covered in Round-Up. It's no wonder they have to be injected with so many antibotics. They are all sick. We are all getting sick. Is there a link?
Monsanto, a leading GMO producer, researched what happens to rats that feed on GM corn. They showed signs of toxicity in their livers and kidneys. When GM soybeans were fed to rodents there were changes in the testicles, in the sperm cells, in the uterus and ovaries, and even in the DNA functioning of the embryo of their offspring. And yet livestock are still being fed these foods. And we are being fed the livestock.
The biggest red flag for me is that Monsanto and the other Biotech corporations don’t want you to know that you are using their product. They want it to be a secret. They are the biggest lobbyists in congress against GMO labeling.
GMO’s are part of a very new science. We don’t yet know the long-term effects of these new proteins. 1000’s of doctors are now advising their patients with allergies, autoimmune diseases, and other health issues, to go on non-GMO diets. In fact the American Academy of Environmental Medicine says that all doctors should prescribe non-GMO diets for their patients. There are studies that link GMO’s to allergies, reproductive problems, immune system problems, accelerated aging, organ damage, gastrointestinal distress, and dysfunctional regulation of cholesterol and insulin.
I think it’s time we know what’s in our food before we take it into our bodies. These big companies don't want you to know. Maybe it's time we make them be more responsible. Consider no longer putting their products in your grocery carts. Let’s get back to the wisdom of our children and only eat the foods we know are safe. Food labeling of GMO products is essential to our health. Many countries around the world already have genetic labeling. With genetic labeling in place we would have the freedom to make an informed choice.
I don’t think we can wait for the government to do the right thing on this issue. We need to put a moratorium on GM foods right now. It’s sends a message that we don’t want to be a future statistic as the Genetic Modification story plays out. How do we do that? Eat mostly organically grown meat, fruits, and vegetables. Shop at local farmer’s markets or grow your own garden. Cut out most processed foods. Buy blue corn chips (no blue corn has been genetically modified yet). Popcorn is also still Non-GMO. And look for Non-GMO labels on soy products. It’s really that simple. You can’t afford not to.
If you have time, watch this 10 minute youtube video on Genetically Modified Organisms.