What are GMO and why are we being forced to eat them without any form of labeling to show that they are in our food? These Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are produced from plants that have been altered in a way that would not happen naturally. According to Bob Quinn, an organic farmer with a Ph.D. in plant biochemistry, “They are taking the genes of one thing and forcing them into the cells of another species. The result is an organism that didn’t exist before.”
When I first learned about this procedure, I assumed that our governmentwould make sure that the foods altered in this way would be labeled so that we would know if we were eating these unnatural organisms. But instead they were allowed into our food supply with no warning and no labeling. In most of the United States, 70 to 75 percent of the processed foods in our grocery stores now contain GMO.
Many of us are concerned because there has been no long term testing of these products that proves their safety. According to one animal study, the DNA is damaged by genetically-modified food. The offspring of the animals that had been fed those foods had great trouble reproducing and the next generation were sterile.
Because it would take many years to complete such studies with humans, eating those foods is the same as volunteering to become human guinea pigs, and our children may have the saddest results. The price we pay is less than optimum health.
Also, other countries that have performed such long term testing have now banned the use of these products. Recently, Japan refused a shipment of GMO wheat from the US.
In an effort to produce pest resistant crops, some seeds have been infused with pesticides (also produced by the same corporations). Since these products were introduced in the1990’s, many are worried that the long term effects of these crops have already had a negative impact upon our health and also the environment. These pesticides are now often found in human blood samples. Formerly, we could wash off the pesticides that were on the outside of our foods, but it is impossible to avoid eating those pesticides since the introduction of them right into our food.
In an effort to avoid eating these genetically modified foods, an attempt has been made to require labeling on foods that have been altered.
In California, there was a measure on the 2012 ballot that would require such labeling. And one health-minded physician paid for TV ads to encourage people to vote for that labeling. Those who believed that such a measure would contribute to the health of our population, supported his position.
However, the manufacturers of GMO spent $45 million for ads to convince the voters against the proposition. They scared the public into believing that such labeling would increase the cost of our food by enormous amounts. They also vilified the physician and questioned his motives due to his providing alternative health products on his website. Nothing was ever said about the conflict of interest on the part of those GMO producers. Due to that pressure from the manufacturers, the measure was very narrowly defeated.
The only recourse in California now is for those who want to eat healthy food to eliminate all processed foods and purchase products that have been labeled “No GMO” or “Organic”. Because it is more expensive to produce organic crops, the price of those foods is higher than the adulterated products, but the nutrition of the organic fruits, vegetables and grains is so superior that it is worth that cost. Buying foods labeled “Natural” or “All Natural” does not solve our problem as there are no requirements for those terms.
Avoiding GMO products is difficult as many are not aware that any product that has soy, wheat, corn or high fructose corn syrup in the list of ingredients (which includes most processed foods) is made from genetically modified corn, wheat
or soy. Also, our meat and dairy products are affected because many farmers now feed their cows grain instead of grass, so indirectly we are getting the GMO in our meat and dairy foods, unless they are labeled, “Grass Fed”.
In the article, “A Seedy Practice” published in 2009 by the editors of Scientific American, we read,“it’s what the biotech industry is not allowing and not telling the public that has most people concerned about genetically modified crops”. According to that publication, the biotech industry (which includes Monsanto, a company that has become the face of the industry) owns the seed, and has intellectual property rights. Therefore, it must approve any research on GMO and then also approve the findings, which excludes scientific testing outside of the reach of the industry.
At present, research is continuing to be done. However, in a number of cases, experiments that had the implicit permission from the seed company were later blocked from publication because the results were not positive. It seems strange to allow the biotech industry that has a financial interest in the outcome of the research to have preference over the scientists who have done long term research studies on pesticides.
I believe that the public has a right to know what we are eating and that the EPA should require labeling on any modified food. Why should we be denied the privilege of knowing any dangerous substance is in the food we eat?