The Skinny on GMO Foods

GMO Foods are all the buzz these days.

What are they?
How do they affect us?
Why do we care?

Photo - The Skinny on GMO Foods - Genetic Engineering Concept image by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.netGMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms.  They’re also known as Genetically Engineered (GE) along with a few other terms.

The premise behind artificially altering the genes of plants, animals and soil bacteria is to help agricultural crops to resist pests, be less affected by drought, grow and ripen faster and produce more crops for the effort.  GMO’s are also being used in pharmaceutical production.

There are a lot of compelling reasons being presented to support the idea.  If genetically altered crops were to contain higher amounts of certain nutrients, the argument goes, then think of all the good GMO foods could do.  Maybe rice could contain more vitamin A to aid vision health, particularly in fighting blindness in children who live in nutritionally-challenged, less-developed countries.  And how about cancer-fighting foods, like broccoli, being able to fight cancer even better?

Who doesn’t want these things?!

The percentage of GMO foods is increasing rapidly.   Proponents seem to want us to believe this is a natural evolution.  But we’re not talking about cross-pollination the way nature does it.  Or even taking cuttings from one fruit tree (for instance) and grafting it onto another fruit tree (for instance).  We’re talking about huge, commercial laboratories (cough cough Monsanto cough cough) artificially forcing foreign genes into the genes of plants and animals.  Forcefully breaching the barriers that naturally occur between species. Including plants and animals that end up in our kitchens and restaurants.

To this, I used to say, “So, what?”

Photo - The Skinny on GMO Foods - Happy Farm - Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS at FreeDigitalPhotos.netAren’t GMO Foods safe?
And here’s the kicker.  Some say yes.  Others answer emphatically “No!”  Where do we go for answers?  Whom can we trust?

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SAFE?Three federal agencies, FDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, dispute claims that GMO’s are potentially unsafe.  The FDA claims to regulate genetically modified foods as they do any other.  Which is not the same as saying they are safe.  Perhaps that’s being too picky about semantics, but public declarations are carefully and purposely worded by people trained in implying without saying in order to fit legal aspects.

UNSAFE? – Our government heavily subsidizes the farming of sugar, wheat, corn and soy… all of which are among the most common GMO foods. So, to believe they will present complete, objective opinions on connected topics is perhaps naive.

SAFE? – Monsanto, the leading seed company in the world, says on their website “Each GMO crop undergoes many years of research, field trials and internal reviews before we submit it to regulatory agencies worldwide for assessment and approval.”

They go on to say that “for each GMO crop grown today, roughly 20 to 40 different and independent health and environmental agencies worldwide have scrutinized a product’s safety studies and assessments.

“Each time, the result has been the same: the food from GMO crops is as safe as conventional (non-GMO) food.”  (You can read more of what Monsanto has to say on their website.)

UNSAFE? – WHO (the World Health Organization) recently decreed glyphosate, best known as “Roundup” by Monsanto, a “probable carcinogen”.  Monsanto is vehemently trying to overturn this decree.

Why are they concerned about WHO’s decision?  Monsanto is the largest seed company in the world.  They report that they hold about 25% of the worldwide proprietary seed market. Add in DuPont and Syngenta, the other top companies, the combined three own nearly 50% of the global proprietary seed business.  They all contend that their tests show GMO’s to be safe.  By the way, one of the GMO’s Monsanto produces and sells widely is known as “Roundup Ready Corn”.

Obviously, their claims of safeness don’t prove anything.  No one has a steeper vested interest in selling GMO products than Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta.  That might be similar to asking someone with their hand caught in the cookie jar if they were trying to sneak a cookie.  They answer, “Of course not!”  Are they fibbing?  Maybe not.  But the more obvious conclusion is yes.

SAFE? – All three federal agencies that regulate foods, both GMO and Non, have not recognized GMO seeds and foods as Unsafe.  And no one has dramatically gasped their last breath from causes cleanly linked to GMO-laden pancakes topped with “maple” high fructose GMO-corn syrup.

UNSAFE? – A French research team recently published a study in the US Journal “Food and Chemical Toxicity”.  (For reeeally dry reading with nuggets of interesting bits, go to sciencedirect dot com).  The study was conducted on 200 rats to compare control groups with the effects of “Roundup” by its lonesome and “Roundup Ready Corn” (GMO).  What did they find?  “… severe adverse health effects including mammary tumors and kidney and liver damage, leading to premature death” in both of the Roundup groups, “whether they were used separately or together.”

They also report that most of the adverse reactions showed themselves after 90 days. Typical, industry-funded tests are concluded at the 90-day mark. This means industry-funded studies could be presented as “Complete” before possible problems have had time to manifest.  As with any study of this type, there are those who take issue with the results on both sides.

Apparently, neither stance has proven right or wrong.  GMO Foods sound both scary and potentially good.  As I said before, who doesn’t want to feed the hungry and fight disease?  Just saying it makes me feel like I’m standing proudly with my hands on hips and wearing a cape!  But do we know enough to be certain that we are not attacking these problems with something even worse?

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Over time, there has been increasing concern, even alarm, about GMO’s in our foods.

Photo - The Skinny on GMO Foods - Dandelion Puff - Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A large faction of health experts are questioning whether or not the human body is programmed to recognize and adequately digest foods that have had their species’ DNA aggressively altered.  There are studies that conclude this is leading to higher allergic reactions to foods and higher toxicity occurrences.  We are already seeing unintentional crossover from GMO crops to conventional crops. This poses the plausible outcome of losing original species, as well as even more unknown side effects.

There is much heated disagreement.  How will changing the very DNA of our food, and blurring the DNA barriers of very different species, affect us personally and globally?

Mr. Nest and have decided to avoid GMO foods whenever it’s possible to recognize them.  We don’t want to risk our health.  And we certainly do not agree to be lab rats.  Read more at Foods We’re Eating These Days (and not)

The challenge to our decision is this…   

It is nearly impossible for anyone to be certain if there are GMO’s in any given food.  Much more difficult than it should be!  

People all over the world share the same concern.  There are 64 or more countries around the globe that have passed laws requiring the labeling of foods that have been genetically modified and/or contain genetically modified ingredients.

Shockingly, the United States does NOT have any federal laws that require disclosure of GMO foods or other products.  This is despite FDA food labeling guidelines and in direct opposition to a high number of developed countries that do require labeling.  GMO labeling is required by all of the countries in the European Union (currently 28 countries) plus Australia, Brazil, China, Japan and Russia.  Even China labels GMO foods, for crying out loud!

Meanwhile, the US continues to refuse to make GMO Disclosure the law and is actively considering going in the opposite direction!

What’s more alarming is …

Not only does the United States NOT require disclosure of GMO’s in our foods, legislation ~ that was turned down in 2015 has been reintroduced in 2016 ~ being pushed on Capitol Hill AGAIN that will actually PROHIBIT DISCLOSURE of GMO’s on the content labels of foods we buy, or make it very difficult to legally disclose their presence.  This flies in the face of the 93% of Americans ~ pro-GMO, anti-GMO and Undecided ~ who support GMO labeling!

Curiously, North America is the ONLY continent (other than Greenland) in the world that has no GMO labeling laws in any of its countries – the United States and her contiguous neighbors, Canada and Mexico.

Regardless of whether you Like, Distrust or are Indifferent to the reasoning and explanations behind GMO foods (and pharmaceuticals), this highly funded push to deny information to American consumers should worry all of us.

It’s important to understand. discuss and share your insights regarding this topic with your family and friends.  For good or bad, this affects what we all depend on; transparency in the products we consume, and the very basic need for clean food and good health. Photo - The Skinny on GMO Foods - Woman Food Shopping - image by Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Don’t take my word for it …

Here are just a handful of sites I’ve read, reread and further researched to understand more about GMO’s and the controversy surrounding them:
What is the purpose of GMO’s?
What You Need to Know about GMO’s
GMO Labeling Around the World  
Tell Congress: Don’t Prohibit GMO labeling
Does GMO Corn Really Cause Tumors in Rats?*
The Real Reason to Worry About GMO’s*
Anti-GMO Labeling DARK Act Returns
GMO-Free Europe

Photo - The Skinny on GMO Foods - image by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos dot net - Social

Comments are Open!

3 thoughts on “The Skinny on GMO Foods”

  1. Great post!! The whole GMO thing concerns me and it is sad we can’t get a straight answer. At a minimum, we deserve the information so we can choose.

    1. Thank you. I agree with your concern. Europe has a yearly conference called GMO-FREE EUROPE (Conference 2015 Future Opportunities and Challenges, is in Berlin, May 6 – 8 2015). The US doesn’t have anything like it so some people attend the European conferences. I read that one attendee asked US officials (I can’t remember which agency) about their plans for disclosure laws regarding GMO’s, their response was that there were no plans to include them on food labels because, if people knew GMO’s were in certain foods, “no one would buy them.”

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