As American consumers, we have entered a brave and potentially dangerous new world when it comes to our food. Many people are eating genetically modified organisms (GMO foods) on a regular or even day-to-day basis, without even realizing that they are doing so. Many parents, uninformed and left in the dark on the subject and it’s potential health concerns, are feeding these GMO foods to their children. Public school lunch is full of these genetically modified foods as well. The large agri-business corporations providing these widely available products are not required by law to label them as such, and therefore the average American consumer is unaware that they are eating GMO foods.
The top five genetically modified foods grown and consumed in the U.S. today are corn, soy, potato, tomato and canola. In 2009, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, 91% of soybeans planted in the U.S. were of genetically altered varieties. 85% of corn was genetically altered as well. Other genetically altered foods include cottonseed oil, papaya, radicchio, squash , and sugarbeet. That’s right folks, corn chips and corn-syrup in your food equals GMO 85% of the time! As of 2010, a company called Aqua Bounty is seeking FDA approval to market their genetically engineered salmon, created from the genes of 2 different species of fish, to the public. This unnatural new species grows much faster than a normal fish from nature. Created in labs by replacing natural genetics with genes extracted from some other species of plant or animal, the seeds for GMO crops are bio-engineered for resilience to commercial herbicides, and to produce pesticidal proteins from within the plant. I am no scientist, but ingesting any plant that produces pesticides internally doesn’t sound like a very safe or intelligent thing to do. Just my opinion…
GMO foods have been widely distributed throughout North America, without having been previously tested on humans. Therefore there are still many questions and concerns regarding the safety of their consumption. Some studies done on animals have shown that GMO foods can have potentially dangerous effects on the health of an animal. For instance, in a 2008 study reported by Professor Jurgen Zentek of the Austrian Health Ministry, it was shown that eating GMO corn was linked to infertility in rats. In another study released by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, researchers studying the effects of GMO foods on mammalian health found that Monsanto’s genetically modified corn was linked to organ damage and failure in rats. Yet another study, conducted on 7 human volunteers at Britain’s Newcastle University, showed that genetically modified DNA from crops can make its way into human intestinal bacteria, raising possible health concerns. Before this study it was previously thought that this was not possible.
The other concern that people should have about genetically modified crops is that they are hard to contain and may cross-pollinate and contaminate wild and heirloom varieties of the same crop growing downwind. There have been several reports of farmers’ entire fields being invaded and ruined by cross-pollination with genetically altered species of the same crop growing nearby. Since corporations have the power to patent and essentially claim all crops containing their specially-designed genes, the small farmers are often sued and punished with heavy fines because their crops and future seed stocks were contaminated by GMOs, through no fault or desire of their own.
By reading the ingredient labels on the back of products, most consumers will be dismayed to find that most food products these days do in fact contain GMOs, whether it is in the form of modified food starch (GMO corn 85% of the time), soy (GMO 91% of the time), canola (usually GMO) or high fructose corn syrup, which is made from genetically modified corn as well, and has been linked by studies with a whole host of negative health conditions. Our food supply is surprisingly full of these potentially harmful organisms, created through untested science and unleashed on an unsuspecting public by large corporations such as Monsanto.
The issue of GMO foods and their safety is undoubtedly an important one, as it presents potential health concerns for almost all Americans. The majority of Americans do not want genetically modified organisms in their food. In a poll taken by the Institute for Responsible Technology, 90% of Americans said that they wanted the producers of GMO foods to be required to clearly label them, and 53% said that if these foods were properly labeled, they would avoid buying these genetically modified foods as well. Sometimes, the best way to protest is with your pocketbook.
In a world of corporate takeover where things are often not as they seem, we as adult human beings must increasingly take responsibility for the health of ourselves, our families and our communities. I urge you to share this information and discuss it with all of those who might listen. We cannot allow ourselves and our children to be unsuspecting test subjects for potentially deadly food science. The only way to be sure you are not consuming untested and unlabeled GMO foods is to buy your foods organic and locally, taking time to prepare them for yourself and the people you love. Since organic food is grown from heirloom seeds, which have been hand-selected for positive traits and NATURAL disease-hardiness by farmers though many generations, it can be sustainably grown without the use of toxic chemical pesticides or new and potentially dangerous genetic modifications.