Tuesday, May 4, 2010

GMOs and Why You Should Avoid Them

What is a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)?

In my previous post on deciphering produce codes, I discussed briefly how 5-digit codes beginning with 8 should be avoided at all costs. These items are genetically modified and here is why they should be avoided.

Genetic engineering or genetic modification (GM) of food involves the laboratory process of artificially inserting genes into the DNA of crops and animals. The resulting product is a genetically modified organism (GMO).

Scientists engineer certain crops so that pesticides are built-in to every cell. So when an insect bites the plant, the pesticide splits open their stomachs and kills them. What crops can be genetically modified? Well, anything really, but the ones being focused on now are soy, corn, canola, cotton, and sugar. Biotech companies claim that the pesticide Bt, from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, is a safe because it has a history of use by organic farmers and it has been used as a natural insect repellent. However, the Bt-toxin found in GMOs is thousands of times more concentrated than the natural spray, is designed to be more toxic, has properties of an allergen, and unlike the natural spray cannot be washed off. Another GMO is engineering crops to be able to withstand Roundup, the weedkiller. So farmers can spray the crops with tons of Roundup and it will kill the weeds, but not the crops. Moreover, studies have shown that Bt even in lower doses found in the natural spray can be harmful.
  • Bt is extremely similar to two other bacteria, B. cereus, which causes food poisoning, and B. anthracis, which causes anthrax. That's right, ANTHRAX. It is so similar to both of these it cannot be distinguished without sophisticated testing.
  • Bt secretes many of the same toxins as B. cereus when growing. That's the one that causes food poisoning. There is also mounting evidence that the spores can germinate in humans and live for extended periods of time in the respiratory gastrointestinal tract. But because they are so similar, individuals who have gotten sick may have had it attributed to B. cereus when it was really Bt.
  • REMEMBER DDT, for 30 years it was purported as a safe pesticide and extremely safe for humans. These same studies have been done on Bt. How long will it take for it to be banned?
Many studies have shown GMOs to be harmful to your health. Doctors are prescribing non-GMO diets to patients with allergies, infertility, immune problems, and a host of other issues. A position paper by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) stated that "several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM foods." The results are ALARMING. Some examples:
  • When female rats were feed GM soy, most of their babies died - as opposed to 10% of rats feed natural soy. For the babies that survived, they were smaller and had problems getting pregnant in the future.
  • When male rats ate GM soy, their testicles changed color. (yep, that's right.) They had altered sperm. Even the embryos of GM feed mice had significant changes in their DNA.
  • In the US, 2 dozen farmers reported that thousands of pigs feed GM corn became sterile. Some had false pregnancies and others gave birth to sacs of water. Cows and bulls became infertile when fed the same corn.
What does this mean for you?

Studies are done on rats and other animals to determine the effect that they will have on humans. GM products caused infertility, altered sperm, and GIVING BIRTH TO SACS OF WATER. Not only does this affect the person or animal eating it, it affects their embryos. That also means that if the animals you eat are feed GM food, it is getting into your system and being passed on to you offspring. YES, it is that bad.

So what can you do?
  1. Eat organic, especially where the above mentioned foods are concerned.
  2. Read ingredients.
  3. Stay informed. Everyday biotech companies are trying to add food to the list of GMOs. They are also legislating to Congress to try to lift restrictions on GMOs. Like, they do not want to have to label produce as a GMO. You can make a change with your vote.
There is a helpful shopping guide that lists GMO-free foods by category and brand from baby formula to candy. It will definitely surprise you and make you a little sad. It can be found as an app for your iPhone or iPod touch or be downloaded and printed as a shopping guide.

My nestie friend SuperGreen made this convenient booklet. The info can be printed here and bound like this. She got it laminated and printed at Kinkos. All photos are from SuperGreen.

Thanks to my nestie friend SuperGreen for this info and pointing me in the right direction.
More info can be found here and here.

The Institute for Responsible Technology has a wealth of information.

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