Friday, February 20, 2015

Like Some Genetically Modified Bug Juice with Your Cheeseburger?

By Samantha Bell

Genetically modified (GM) foods are often promoted as a way to sustainably feed the world. But this is little short of a confidence trick. Far from needing more GM foods, there are urgent reasons why we need to ban them altogether.

With the rise of GM foods, consumers want to know what they are eating. Many foods available today contain GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, foods that have been changed with an injection of DNA from another species.

According to PBS, since 1996 the growth of GM crops has skyrocketed to more than 70 million. Since then, Americans have been fighting long and hard for the right to know what’s in their food. Currently, there are no label requirements for foods containing GMOs in the United States, but savvy consumers want to know what’s in their food. GMOs have been known to cause health, safety and environmental issues, and Americans have expressed their concern, seeing no change in the law.

In a 2013, a New York Times poll reported that 93 percent of Americans are in favor of putting labels on genetically engineered foods. According to, “Global food policy research conducted by CFS confirms that 61 countries, including member nations of the European Union, Russia, China, Brazil, Australia, Turkey and South Africa require standards of mandatory GE food labeling.”

GMOs and Health—Should We Be Concerned?

Intensive research shows the numerous effects that GMOs can have on our health—they can be toxic, allergenic and/or have unintended nutritional changes.

The issue surrounding GM food crops and human health is that there are too many unknowns. There aren’t enough studies really documenting that they are safe. The safety data is all generated by the companies and submitted to our government. We have lots of reasons as consumers to ask for independent safety studies. GM ingredients are largely found in processed food. The only way to be certain you are not eating GM foods is to buy certified organic, which must be 95 percent GM-free.

In GMO Myths & Truths, John Fagan wrote, “Most studies with GM foods indicate that they may cause hepatic, pancreatic, renal, and reproductive effects and may alter hematological [blood], biochemical, and immunologic parameters, the significance of which remains to be solved with chronic toxicity studies.”
GMOs are man-man toxic products that the human body is not made to consume or digest.

Right to Know?

According to non-GMO Project, every year, farmers plant $15 billion worth of GM seeds around the world. The main GM crops are alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, Hawaiian papaya, soy, sugar beets, zucchini and yellow summer squash. Nearly half of all U.S. farms grow GM products. In fact, according to their research, in the U.S., 90 percent or more of all corn, cotton, canola, sugar beet and soybeans are grown from genetically engineered seeds.

Some opponents argue that since genetically engineered (GE) crops are altered to fight off insects and weeds, they require less harmful chemicals, which is better for farmer health, soil erosion and potential water erosion, the Wall Street Journal reports. But while that may seem beneficial and harmless here and now, the long-term effects are a large concern as well, observers say.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) cites animal studies showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. Human studies show how genetically modified (GM) food can leave material behind inside us, possibly causing long-term problems.
Genes inserted into GM soy, for example, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and that the toxic insecticide produced by GM corn was found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn fetuses. By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes an array of unpredictable side effects.

Since science on GMOs is still developing, the main arguments today have to do with labeling: should GM foods be labeled, like Kosher or USDA Certified Organic food?

It all comes down to the consumers’ right to know. It’s not so much a debate anymore about whether GMOs are safe or unsafe. But it’s about the right to know what’s in our food supply.

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