GMO is an acronym for the term genetically modified organism. It is synonymous with the term “genetically engineered” (GE) food. These terms refer to the process of taking a living organism and altering it by splicing its DNA molecules with those from different “sources” and in some cases, even different species!
You may not know it, but it is likely that you eat GMO foods every day. This is because genetically engineered ingredients are used in the vast majority of processed foods. Pretty much any U.S. food containing corn, soy, canola, or cotton that is not USDA Certified Organic includes a GMO version of one or more of these ingredients. Processed foods, popular brands of breakfast cereal, pasta, bread, vegetable oil, frozen dinners, soda pop, and even most condiments contain genetically engineered ingredients. So what?
Proponents of GMOs will claim that genetic engineering of our foods is the solution to feed the world because it will raise crop yields, reduce farming costs, and reduce the use of toxic herbicides, including pesticides. That would be great, if only it were true.
Unfortunately, crop yields of genetically engineered foods are lower than those coming from non-GMO crops. Additionally, since GMO seeds are patented and as such protected under U.S. patent laws, farmers are actually paying higher costs because they are not permitted to collect seeds from crops to be replanted the next year. Instead, they are forced to rebuy seeds every year to plant – something previous farming generations have never had to do.
As for reducing herbicide use, first let’s be clear about something. These toxins are inserted right into plant genes – take for instance Monsanto’s widely used Round Up pesticide which is found in most U.S. corn, soy, and cotton. Other GMO foods with toxins engineered right into them include non-organic fresh produce like potatoes, beets, and spinach. So if you thought the solution was to just wash your veggies, there is no washing this stuff off. It’s in there!
Second, the use of herbicides in agriculture, rather than declining has increased dramatically over the past decade. As super-weeds and pests have evolved to outrun the science of GMOs, farmers have been forced to continue to up the ante by using more and more pesticides.
Since genetic engineering is a new technology and involves the use of toxins in foods, you would certainly think that the government agencies which oversee food safety such as the FDA and USDA, would require safety testing of these foods, right?
Ironically, as mentioned earlier, GE processes and the resulting products are protected by U.S. Patent laws. Therefore, the makers of them, companies including the largest, Monsanto, do not have to provide proprietary testing results to prove product safety. In fact, not only is independent safety testing not required, it is in effect not allowed because of patent law protections. Let me say that again… safety testing of GMO foods cannot be required or regulated due to the fact these foods are protected from third party scrutiny by U.S. Patent Law! Folks, welcome to insanity!
So if there is no testing of these mutant organisms, is there any data to support they are actually problematic?
Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception states that between 1994 and 2001 – a period during which GM foods flooded the market for the first time– food related illnesses doubled. GMO foods have been indicated as allergenic, carcinogenic (cancer-causing), suspected in disrupting hormone function, and damaging to the immune system. And this is only a partial list.
Given the newness of this food technology and potential risks, would you like to be able to identify GMO foods so you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to buy them? Well not so fast!
The food companies aren’t labeling them and the government isn’t requiring them to. So for now, you’re only options to avoid GMO foods are to buy USDA Certified Organic foods or those specifically certified as part of the independent Non-GMO Project certification program. Check the slideshow to the right for the official labels to look for.
To take action to support efforts requiring the labeling of GMO foods, please visit Organic Consumers Association, Millions Against Monsanto, Slow Food USA, Center for Food Safety, and Citizens for Health. Write to your congressman, the USDA, the FDA, and even the President. We have a right to know what’s in our food!
Next up… Ohio U.S. Senators vote against the GMO labeling amendment to the U.S. Farm Bill.
Owner, Toucan Foods