GMOs have spent a fair amount of time in the news recently, particularly because of California’s Proposition 37 (if you’ve been living under a rock or haven’t made note of it yet, Proposition 37 is calling for the labeling of all foods containing genetically modified organisms). There is a lot of fuss going on about them — companies claim they’re safe, natural activists swear they’re not. What’s the big deal?
WHAT ARE THEY?
GMO is short for “genetically modified organism.” According to The Non-GMO Project, GMOs “are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (genetic engineering). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.”
So basically, we slice some genes out of organism A, add them into organism B, and the result is crazy super-charged organism C (spider + Peter Parker = Spiderman?).
WHAT’S THE PURPOSE?
GMOs are basically engineered to withstand any sort of damage from different herbicides or pesticides. They are, in essence, superhero seeds. However, “superhero,” in this case, is not a positive descriptor. GMOs cannot, and do not, occur in nature or traditional crossbreeding (crossbreeding implies two different organisms mating — genetic engineering literally cuts out DNA genes from one organism and implants them into another). Since they are intolerant to herbicides, “super” bugs and weeds pop up as well, requiring even more toxic substances to destroy them (and coat our food).
GMOs are not, not not (NO NO NO!!!) safe! Consider the following:
- Most developed countries (nearly 50, including all European Union countries, Australia, and Japan) have outright bans or severe restrictions on the sale and production of GMOs; they do not consider them to be safe
- The US approved GMOs because of the studies the company who created them conducted. Where’s the problem in that? The GMO food hazards haven’t been studied more than 30 days and the patents on the seeds prevent any other studies from occurring
- The USDA has not conducted long term studies on the safety of GMOs in food
- GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food including crops of corn (88% of the US crop in 2011 was genetically modified) and soy (94% (!!!) of the 2011 US crop)
- The American Academy of Environmental Medicine calls for doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets to all patients
- Monsanto’s “BT” corn produces the Bt-toxin, which is linked to allergies, auto-immune diseases, and other disorders. Jeffrey Smith, the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology and author of two bestselling books on GMOs talks about “BT” here
- Peer-reviewed studies have found that GMOs have toxic and allergenic effects, as well as altered nutritional value, such as stomach lesions and ulcers, allergic-type inflammation and immune reactions to normally non-allergenic foods; disturbed kidney and heart enzyme function, in addition to liver, pancreas, and testes function; and disruption of the digestive system, among a hefty list of even more issues
The fact that there are no long term studies analyzing the effects of GMOs is terrifying, especially when you consider that Monsanto is controlling both industry and federal government in the matter.
WAIT, WHAT? WHO IS MONSANTO?
Monsanto, according to Wikipedia, is “an American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is a leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, which it markets under the Roundup brand. Monsanto is also a leading producer of genetically engineered seed.”
Actually, it’s the leading and largest producer of it.
Monsanto has admitted that they want to own the world’s food supply, and if you look at the extent of Monsanto employees that have been moved into key positions in the federal government, you will see how they’re well on their way to achieving that.
They are also the leading opponent of California’s Proposition 37, having donated, at the time of this post, $4.2 billion against the labeling of products with GMOs.
HOW CAN I AVOID GMOs?
First and foremost, be educated. Our nationwide struggle with sickness, disease, and obesity did not come from nowhere. Refuse to be naive. READ and take everything with a grain of salt (yes, even this)!
- Support The Non-GMO Project, a non-profit organization that offers North America’s only third party verification and labeling for non-GMO food and products. Their site offers a search engine where you can check which products are certified or not.
- Join millions in telling the FDA to Just Label It!
- Get involved with the California Proposition 37 Right to Know Campaign
- Take some time to read GMO Myths and Truths: An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops. The study was release by earthopensource in June 2012. Scan the whole thing, or browse the contents to read the questions that interest you.
At the end of the day, the question is quite simple…
if GMOs are so “safe” for us, why are so many companies fighting the labeling initiative?
Monsanto’s Deep Roots in Washington
Corporate Giant Nestle Makes Contradictions Concerning GMOs
Whole Foods: Genetically Engineered Foods
20 Years of GMO Policy That Keeps Americans in the Dark About Their Food
GMOs: Better Safe than Sorry?