Moment for Health: More about GMOs

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Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs as they are referred to, quite frankly suck. They are a product of biotech companies whose sole purpose is to make money, not health.

And with a lax government on hand, we find that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not even require a single safety study or mandates the labeling of GMOs, therefore allowing any company to put their GMO foods on the market without even notifying the agency.

I quote from the FDA website humorously headlined as Protecting and Promoting Your Health: “Because FDA determined that bioengineered foods should be regulated like their conventional counterparts, FDA has not to date established any regulations specific to bioengineered food.”

The FDA leaves the regulation to the very companies that make the freaky foods. So what to do? Get off your butts and learn a little (www.nongmoproject.org).

Ask questions. Demand non-GMO foods in your store. Vote to label them so you know what you are buying. As any company kicking to stay alive and profitable, they will promote GMOs as safe. They claim that GM crops are an extension of natural breeding and do not pose different risks from naturally bred crops. But a large growing body of scientific evidence shows these claims not to be true.

Seriously, GM crops are laboratory made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods and therefore pose different risks from non-GMO crops.

Fish genes in tomatoes….how is that naturally bred? And the list goes on. They claim they are safe to eat but have been shown to be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts.

That they benefit the environment is false since they actually harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems and reduce biodiversity. Benefit farmers? Come on. GMOs have created serious problems for them with herbicide tolerant “superweeds,” compromised soil quality and increased disease susceptibility in crops.

What harm can they possibly be for us consumers, us ravenous just-make-it-taste good gluttonous beings? Besides being allergenic, and containing nutritional deficiencies, those spliced genes can transfer to gut bacteria in what is referred to as transgenic. Bt genes living in my gut? No way. (Bacillus thuringiensis is a biological pesticide.)

Caveat emptor…let the buyer beware. Know what you are eating is the best way around this. The European Union (EU) has a very tight regulation and labeling of GMOs, and so should we.

What are the high risk crops?

Corn tops the list with being genetically modified with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready (yes, a pesticide spliced into a corn gene), and has been tied to numerous health issues including weight gain and organ disruption.

Soy is the next, again modified by Monsanto to resist herbicides. Ninety percent of soy crops are GMOs these days.

Sugar is the next big food item found in almost everything, and again it is Monsanto introducing genetically modified sugar beets into the US market in 2009 to be resistant to the herbicides sprayed all over the crops.

For non-sugar people, Aspartame is now created with genetically modified bacteria. All these ingredients found in almost all pre-packaged and fast foods. Then there are papayas (most of Hawaii’s crop), alfalfa (feed for animals) canola, cotton, zucchini and yellow summer squash.

The good out of all this is there are companies such as Whole Foods that are advocating all their foods to be clearly labeled as either sourced from non-GMO ingredients or containing GMOs. It is a start and I hope other companies will follow suit.

Until then, stick to eating organic, at least with the top ten listed above, a positive step towards keeping you above the GMO fighting line and towards a healthier lifestyle.

 Gina Dostler can be reached at [email protected]

 

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