If we don't have enough reasons by now to avoid GMO foods, read on, watch the video and buy the books, all from Jeffery M. Smith, Executive Director Institute for Responsible Technology. He is a recognized worldwide authority on the dangers of genetically modified food and organisms.
In a nutshell, the controversy around GMOs, especially food crops, stem from the fact that when the corporate patent holder does the testing on its own product, the results always indicate that the product is safe for animal and human consumption.
When independent labs test GM seeds, definite health hazards are uncovered. The manufacturers testing methods are suspect due to the short duration of the testing; 90 days versus an ideal testing period of two or more years.
Well there is some good news. The Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN)has published the first long term study on the effects of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide and a Roundup resistant genetically engineered corn on lab rats. For years the rat has been a surrogate for human health impacts.
The results are both alarming and shocking, especially for the female subjects. Watch the video "GMO: Global Alert" below. If it doesn't move us to avoid GMO foods and demand that all GMO foods be labeled as such, then nothing will.
Another serious concern is how the genetic modification is done. In the pre-1980's, instead of splicing a single gene into corn or cotton DNA, Monsanto was using a particle bombardment technique to fire genes wrapped around microscopic gold particles into the plant tissue.
In addition to the desired protein being produced, several new
proteins were discovered; most likely produced through mutations in the plant DNA. Monsanto dismissed them as insignificant even though no one knew what these new proteins were or what they would do if consumed.
He was ignored, shunned and eventually left the company. The unintended proteins are still in the food crops and who knows what, if any, their long term effects on human health could be.
The gestation period for prions was 20 to 30 years; what if the
alien protein in our corn and soy crops is a time bomb waiting to explode? If it is, we should start seeing the explosions any time now.
The gene gun fell out of use in favor of soil bacteria types that could do the job with more predictability. Disease causing genes are removed from the bacteria; genes of interest are inserted into the bacteria and mixed.
The resulting Petri dish soup is then inserted into the plant. The "gene-carrying" bacteria does the work of placing the new gene where it belongs in the plant.
In reality, exactly where the gene is inserted into the plant DNA matters greatly and when the genes are inserted at different points in the target plants DNA, some very strange plants can be expressed (formed).
Fast forwarding several years, enough adverse incidences from GMO foods, notably GM corn and cotton, have occurred to show that perhaps the concern about unforeseen side effects was warranted.
For example numerous sheep have died after several days of
grazing on Bt cotton plants and allergic reactions have been reported by field workers harvesting Bt cotton with many being hospitalized. Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) is one of the soil bacteria widely used to carry genes into the target DNA. We will be hearing much more about Bt in the coming months.
Lab rats and mice fed GMO foods, specifically corn, have developed abnormalities in their livers, kidneys and blood. Mice fed GM corn developed serious reproductive problems and disrupted immune systems.
Cows, pigs and chickens fed Bt corn fared even worse. The pigs developed fertility and sterility problems, 12 cows in Germany died after eating GM corn and in feeding trials with chickens, twice as many died after eating GM corn than those fed non-GM corn.
The video below is long, a little over an hour, but it is vital that everyone watch it and become an informed consumer.
Not everyone will believe what Jeffery Smith is saying but at least watch it and use it as a springboard for conducting your own research. Then make up your mind to eat or not eat GMO foods.
Smith's two books on the subject of GMO foods, The "Seeds of Deception" and "Genetic Roulette" are widely available but can be easily ordered from Amazon.com by clicking on the book covers shown below.
"Seeds of Deception" exposes how industry uses its wealth, power and political influence to fast track genetically modified food and seeds into the food chain for both humans and animals.
It shows how manufacturer’s tests are structured to show favorable results, adverse results are buried or ignored, and how Monsanto has turned the FDA into a puppet with the strings going from Washington to St. Louis, Missouri.
Genetic Roulette is an amazing book that actually documents the health risks of GMO foods. In this book the author falls back on reams of information he gleaned from previously unavailable company and government files by using the Freedom of Information Act.
In addition he makes good use of case studies, eyewitness accounts, medical records, media reports and unpublished studies. The book is meticulously organized into a "one-finding-per-chapter" format.
Other chapters expose flaws in the industry's case for the safety of GMO foods. Ideally, a serious student of genetically modified food should have both of these books in their library; together they make up an incredible source of well documented information.
Wrapping up this section, we will ask, "How can we avoid GMO Foods?”
Step one is to be able to spot genetically modified food. Don't rely on labeling since the FDA is still operating under a 1992 policy directive.
The directive "does not establish special labeling requirements for bioengineered foods (genetically modified food) as a class of foods.
The policy states that FDA has no basis for concluding that bioengineered foods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way, or that, as a class, foods developed by the new techniques present any different or greater safety concern than foods developed by traditional plant breeding".
This statement is an excerpt from the FDA.gov website under their section titled, "Guidance For Industry: Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Developed Using Bioengineering; Draft Guidance".
The draft was released for comment in January 2001. Looks like the FDA is really on top of the GMO issue.
Further reading shows that the FDA is still relying on data supplied by the developer or manufacturer of genetically modified food regarding its safety for consumption.
The latest position of the FDA is that they will not require GMO or GD labeling of foods.
OK, so forget the federal government, no help there. They are too busy policing nutritional supplements that might actually do people some good but might hurt the drug companies and Monsanto's business.
Regardless of FDA and USDA stalling on the GMO labeling issue, consumers have power. If that power is brought to bear at the state level and enough states pass labeling laws, perhaps the federal governments position on GMOs won't matter much.
In an end run, the state of California got an initiative on their Nov. 6th, 2012 ballot to require labeling of GMO foods. It was known as Prop 37 and consumer activist and organic food groups joined forces to get double the number of signatures to bring the issue to a vote by the people.
Of course it was opposed by genetic seed producers (Monsanto and Dupont) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a lobbyist group in D.C. composed of 300 firms who use genetically modified ingredients in their products. Due to intense lobbying and a publicity storm of misinformation and fear mongering, the initiative failed to pass.
All the defeat did was to harden the position of the "right to know" activists and they took the fight to Washington State where the California Prop 37 will appear on the Washington ballot as the I-522 initiative. It will be voted on in a November 5th ballot.
Meanwhile the fight has gotten hot and heavy in the Northeast where Connecticut and Maine have their own GMO labeling laws that have passed house and senate approval and awaiting signature by their governors. There are strings attached in that neither states laws go into effect until 4 or 5 other states pass similar laws. It appears that neither Connecticut or Maine want to go up against the powerful food and seed lobbies alone.
The little state of Vermont has crafted its own labeling law known as H.112 which passed the state house. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York and Pennsylvania are in various stages of preparing their GMO labeling initiatives. The movement is clearly picking up momentum.
So what can we do as consumers to avoid genetically modified food if that is our choice. Here are several suggestions.
First is to become an activist and write your senators and representatives expressing a desire for full disclosure on
food labels regarding GMO ingredients. This is vital in that the FDA still adamantly opposes labeling of GMO foods. Instead they take the position of making GMO labeling voluntary on the part of the food companies. Right! How's that going to work out for consumers?
Third, if the food label doesn't say non-GMO, then don't buy it; find an alternate.
Fourth, if you have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket, consider donating them to the Institute for Responsible Technology.
Fifth is to keep educating yourself on the issue of genetically modified food, stay informed about what the FDA, USDA and FTC are doing in the area of GMO's and make up your own mind.
As a sixth step we can do our research on where to buy non-GMO foods starting with real free range grass fed, humanely raised, hormone free, antibiotic free beef. There are a few out there and if your locale has farmer's markets, that is always a good place to start.
None of us are in favor of the government telling us what we can and can't eat. Freedom includes freedom of choice in our nutrition and lifestyle decisions but hopefully, they will be informed choices based on personal research and reliable data.
In that regard, numerous websites and blogs have sprung up with information about genetically engineered food.
As is typical of the internet, some are excellent, some are garbage; again we have to be discerning about information gleaned from the internet.
Several sites, in no particular order, worth a visit are:
Leave GMO Foods and return to Home page
What drives science to change life forms?
What is genetic engineering and how is it done?
The controversies surrounding GMO crops
Go to the lead-in page on Nutrition
Lifestyle choices are vital to good health; choose wisely
The top ten killer diseases and how to avoid them