What's a GMO?
The Institute for Responsible Technology defines a GMO (genetically modified organism) as the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans.
What are the potential dangers of consuming GMOs?
Could it be possible that GE (genetically engineered) foods might cause changes to our own DNA? As of now, there are no studies showing a direct connection, but an astute person could deduce that it's a definite possibility.
For instance, the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) published a study confirming that the food we consume has a direct effect on the balance of free radicals and antioxidants within the body, and if that delicate balance were to become unbalanced and free radicals outnumbered antioxidants, a host of negative ramifications can follow.
If free radicals overwhelm the body's ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress ensues. Free radicals thus adversely alter lipids, proteins, and DNA and trigger a number of human diseases.
In light of this evidence citing food as a specific trigger to altering our DNA, doesn't logic also tell us that genetically modified organisms that contain many unnatural and untested elements also have the ability to trigger DNA mutations?
At the very least, we can assume that the extremely precarious and unknown nature of GMOs has the potential to cause extensive changes and unbalances inside the body that allow free radicals to become pervasive causing oxidative stress thereby triggering disease.
It also stands to reason that food containing various herbicides and pesticides meant to kill plants and insects could be harmful to the human body as well.
Let us consider…
- Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt toxin, is a bacterial insecticidal protein inserted into the genes of the plant to make it insect-resistant. In simple terms, a pesticide.
- Glyphosate is a toxic herbicide, and the main ingredient in Roundup and commonly used commercial weed killers. Scientists wanted to create herbicide-resistant plants, so they identified and harvested glyphosate-tolerant genes from a strain of Agrobacterium.
This allows growers to unrestrainedly spray glyphosate among their consumable crops whereby our food is coated and ingested. Animals and the environment are also victims of this toxic practice, exposed to glyphosate through the air, water and any treated plants they ingest.
Glyphosate is not “just” an herbicide. It was originally patented as a mineral chelator. It immobilizes nutrients, making them unavailable for your body. It’s also patented as a potent antibiotic that can devastate human gut bacteria.
Dr. Don M Huber drives it home:
You may have the mineral [in the plant], but if it’s chelated with glyphosate, it’s not going to be available physiologically for you to use, so you’re just eating a piece of gravel.
- Scientists also needed a way to cause their newly formed organism to produce the desired insecticidal and glyphosate-resistant functions, so they inserted another bit of genetic information from the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus.
Fundamentally, GMOs add viruses, bacteria, herbicides, pesticides and animal genomes to your plate, integrated into the very DNA of your food with a massive dose of toxic chemicals on top.
And if that's not enough, anyone care for some human liver with your rice?
I also found this 3-minute video very helpful in its succinct explanation of the genetically modified organism.
NOTE: There are no peer-reviewed studies establishing the safety of GMO crops for human consumption, and there are no long-term studies at all.
What are the environmental impacts of GMOs?
We already know that GMOs contain elements meant to be deadly to insects and weeds, so it's logical to consider that these toxin-producing plants can and likely do contaminate the water and soil that comes into contact with them. Toxins in the soil, on the plants and in the water can negatively impact all aquatic life and beneficial insects such as bees as monarch butterflies.
In fact, it's commonly suspected that genetically engineered crops and the widespread use of externally applied toxic chemicals are contributing to the Colony Collapse Disorder currently affecting our honey bees.
And as we know so well, no bees = no humans.
There are also extreme contamination risks to conventionally seeded farms whose crops sit near those using GM seeds. Wind and weather often cause plant material to move with the air and cross-pollinate in unintended places.
A third of U.S. organic farmers have experienced problems in their fields due to the nearby use of genetically modified crops, and over half of those growers have had loads of grain rejected because of unwitting GMO contamination.
And to add insult to injury, big conglomerates like Monsanto are known for driving independent farmers out of business by suing them for patent infringement when company seeds are found on contaminated non-GMO land.
What are the global impacts of GMOs?
Take the suicide belt in India where Bt crops have devastated hundreds of thousands of people. Cotton farmers there were erroneously convinced that GM crops would bring them great harvests and monetary gain, so they borrowed money to purchase the expensive new seeds only to find that some native insects were unaffected by the built-in pesticides.
In addition, many genetically engineered crops are unable to flower and reproduce viable seeds for the following year's planting which means the farmers have to purchase new seeds every year at the same exorbitant prices, and farmers are also required to pay royalties on their harvests because the seeds are patented.
Developing countries have paid a steep price to take the gamble on genetically engineered crops. At the height of the turmoil, nearly 1,000 Indian cotton farmers committed suicide every month.
What can we do?
- Buy organic whenever possible.
- Avoid soy-based foods and vegetable oils made from corn, soybean and canola.
- Get to know your local farmers and buy from the ones who use organic methods. Avoid those who don't.
- Look for keywords on your food labels that indicate GMOs like modified corn starch, soy lecithin and high fructose corn syrup.
DEFEAT THE DARK ACT
Right now, there's a bill called the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014″ that needs to be stopped in its tracks.
Better known as the DARK Act (Denying Americans the Right to Know Act), this bill is a blatant and direct obstruction to our GMO labeling efforts. Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas aims to prevent states from making their own mandates on food labeling.
Shockingly, the DARK Act also seeks to prevent the FDA itself from mandating any GMO labeling. And it doesn’t stop there. This gem of a bill also says we can’t force companies that use GMO ingredients to stop using the word “natural” on their product labels.
In our view, the goal here is clear. This is just another way to prevent people from knowing what’s in their food, to hamper our efforts to avoid GMOs, and to prevent us from opposing GMOs by killing the grassroots movement.
Now it’s time for us to get loud and be heard. It’s time to tell Congress to STOP THE DARK ACT.
JUST LABEL IT
You can also support the Just Label It initiative that helps drive our grassroots movement to finally win the battle over GMO food labeling.