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What are GMO’s

Surely by now you have heard the letters G-M-O strung together in some way or another, in the media {print, television newscast, or online}.  It is a hot topic in the food industry and everyone is talking about it.  But what does it mean?  And, even better, what should it mean to you?  I didn’t think too much about it until I really started reading and now I want to share what I now know to help you better understand GMO’s. Chances are you’ve already eaten some of these franken-foods that some experts say could have harmful consequences, especially for children.  That is why I am writing this post, to help you to become educated and to vote with your dollars and make good choices for your families.

So what is a GMO?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism {sometimes called a GE food – genetically engineered}.  A GMO is a a food that has been altered in a way that does not occur in nature. Some foods are altered by a natural process, for example if you plant the seeds of the juiciest watermelons that you had last summer and you continue to do so each year, eventually you will be yeilding better and better fruit – a juicier breed.  This happens over time.  The science that creates GMO’s is a lot faster.

In a lab a scientist injects desirable genes into a plant’s cells, altering the DNA of the plant.  The result is a new version of the plant.

Why do they do this?

Advocates for GMO’s claim that these franken-foods can produce bigger yields and plants that are not as susceptible to pests. They also claim since these crops will produce more this is the way to end world hunger.

However, scientist have yet to produce a crop that has these mega yields but what they have produced are crops that capable of producing there own insecticides and crops that are capable of tolerating Round-up.  The idea was to try to simplify the management of weeds and insects, but what they have actually created are bigger problems: weeds that are resistant to Round-up.

Two-thirds of today’s GE crops are those that were created to tolerate Monsanto’s herbicide Round-up. The thought was that since the plants had round up in there genes there would be no need for farmers to use less potent herbicides on the plants.  It didn’t take long for a new generation of weeds to crop up that are also resistant to Round-up.  So, now farmers must douse the already laced with herbicide plants with more of the chemicals.  So what does the biotech industry decide to do?  Modify these crops to be able to tolerate multiple herbicides, of course, so even more herbicides can be applied to kill the weeds!

So, in short, GMOs were created initially to decrease the use of pesticides and herbicides but in fact they have INCREASED the use of these chemicals on your food.

Obviously, you can see why these would be harmful to you – heavy doses of chemicals applied to your fruits and vegetables doesn’t sound like a safe practice to me.  Many animal studies have been performed and have raised concern about these foods.

In a 2008 Italian study mice were fed genetically modified corn for a period of 30 to 90days and the result was that he mice developed intestinal inflammation.  A 2004 French study performed on rats showed changes in their blood cells, livers, and kidneys, which researches believe could indicate the onset of disease.

Right now there is no rule from the FDA that requires foods to be labeled to show whether or not they are using GMOs and the US Department of Agriculture continues to approve the planting of these crops.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not have a stance on whether or not parents should feed their children products with GMOs but the trouble is there isn’t enough research.  There isn’t enough research to show these are safe for us or our children.  We don’t know what these crops could trigger in our own bodies yet. I don’t know about you but I am not willing to let my family members be the test subjects.

And, I’m not the only one who feels this way, 30 countries, including Australia, Japan, and England, have taken measures to restrict the sales of GE foods.  Europe requires a strict labeling system.  So why not the U.S.?

The answer is simple, big business.  Corn and soy are two of the biggest GE crops and two of the crops that American industrial farmers grow the most of in this country. And, the country’s biggest food and agriculture companies would lose money if new evidence emerged that these crops do in fact cause risk to humans.

So, until America wakes up and demands labeling of these products what can you do to make the wisest food choices for your family?

  • Know the big GE crops: soybeans, canola seeds, corn, & cotton. Also, sugar beets and alfalfa were recently approved.  (Alfalfa is a crop people usually eat but it is fed to the livestock – which we in turn eat)
  • Buy whole foods – 80% of packaged/processed food items have one or more of the big GE crops
  • Buy grass-fed beef and dairy products – livestock in C.A.F.O.s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations – aka Industrial Farms) are fed soy, corn, and alfalfa and then sold as conventional meat
  • See which brands are saying no to GMOs (visit nongmoproject.org)
  • Buy organic.  It isn’t a totally fail-proof method since GE crops can be grown in close proximity to organic farms and aren’t safe from cross-pollination, but, in general, the risk is significantly lower than that of conventional products.
  • Add yellow squash, zucchini, sweet corn, and Hawaiian papaya to your organic list (I buy items from the dirty dozen list organic plus these) since small amounts of these crops are genetically modified as well).
  • Buy from your local guy – and ask questions.  Farmers markets are in full bloom right now and I love them!  But, to determine if you are buying a non-GMO product, ask the farmer is he can guarantee that his crop aren’t GE and ask if he is located near any large scale GE farms (they could be causing cross-pollination).

What do you think?  Are you concerned about the risks of GMOs for your family?

I found an article in KIWI magazine that proved to be helpful in spelling all this out for me.  This is the information that I gleaned from it but I highly recommend that you read the whole article HERE entitled The New Food Fight, by Marygrace Taylor.

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Comments

  1. Yes, very concerned! We do everything possible to avoid GMOs. I *think* we have gotten rid of them from our house but you can never be THAT sure sadly :S

  2. I’m concerned about our FDA & GMO’s!
    http://vimeo.com/22997532

  3. “The World According to Monsanto” is definitely a must see!!! It’s kind of
    long…about 1:48 & 57 secs but definitely worth watching for the true to heart data it reveals about sinister Monsanto!!!

    http://www.forbiddenknowledgetv.com/videos/food-control/the-world-according-to-m\onsantofrench-documentary.html

    It especially breaks my heart to see the beautiful, natural corn of Mexico being
    genetically infected via cross~pollination.

    As Dr. Vandana Shiva (http://www.vandanashiva.org) says, “There’s nothing they (Monsanto) are leaving untouched: the mustard, the okra, the bringe oil, the rice, the cauliflower. Once they have established the norm: that seed can be owned as their property, royalties can be collected. We will depend on them for
    every seed we grow of every crop we grow. If they control seed, they control
    food, they know it – it’s strategic. It’s more powerful than bombs. It’s more
    powerful than guns. This is the best way to control the populations of the
    world.”

    We just keep fighting the good
    fight for our kids and for us!!!

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