Conventional farming has contributed, more than anything, to the destruction of biodiversity. For example, there are only a few strains of conventionally produced fruits and vegetables in existence, and the loss of any of them to disease could eliminate these fruits and vegetables, such as the banana, from the earth. Genetically engineered foods are simply an extension of the murder of our planet’s biodiversity, by experimenting with combining the DNA of food with DNA from other organisms and contaminating the food supply. Why? GMO foods can be patented. Large companies and wealthy individuals, such as Bill Gates, will eventually not only own most of the world’s farmland, but also the seeds for the entire world’s food supply. This is the elite’s idea of how to feed the world, and to make us completely dependent upon them for survival.
According to the World Health Organization, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are "organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in such a way that does not occur naturally." This technology is also referred to as "genetic engineering", "biotechnology" or "recombinant DNA technology" and consists of randomly inserting genetic fragments of DNA from one organism to another, usually from a different species. For example, an artificial combination of genes that includes a gene to produce the pesticide Cry1Ab protein (commonly known as Bt toxin), originally found in Bacillus thuringiensis, is forcibly inserted into the DNA of corn randomly. Both the location of the transferred gene sequence in the corn DNA and the consequences of the insertion differ with each insertion. The plant cells that have taken up the inserted gene are then grown in a lab using tissue culture and/or nutrient medium that allows them to develop into plants that are used to grow GM food crops. This Bt toxin acts as an insecticide within the plant, killing insects that feed on it, and its lethal effect on bees is the reason that GMO corn has been banned in Poland.
The Bt toxin, which essentially pokes “holes” in the cells of insects’ stomachs, killing them, has been found to poke holes in human cells as well. In one study, it was found in the blood of 93% of pregnant women tested, and in the blood of 80% of their unborn fetuses, due to the fact that there is no blood-brain barrier at that stage of development.
Natural breeding processes have been safely utilized for the past several thousand years. In contrast, genetic engineering (GE) crop technology abrogates natural reproductive processes. Selection occurs at the single cell level, the procedure is highly mutagenic and routinely breeches genera barriers, and the technique has only been used commercially for 10 years. That is a very small time to evaluate the effects of contamination of these products on other plant life. The effects of natural breeding processes, on the other hand, can be seen over time. Genetic engineering is a new technology. Therefore, its long-term effects on the organisms themselves, the ecosphere, and the consumer are, as of yet, unknown.
The Supreme Court case of Association for Molecular Technology v. Myriad Genetics, 599 U.S. 576 (2013), paved the way in the United States for the patenting of biological life forms. The biotech industry now seeks to control the world’s food supply by disallowing farmers’ use of saved seeds. Such use of GMO seeds would be a patent violation, subjecting the entire crop to the powerful remedy of seizure and destruction. In other words, once a commercial farm uses GMO seeds, it must buy all its seeds from the industry, thus creating a world monopoly on food production.
Despite the differences between traditional breeding techniques and biotechnology, the biotech industry and the government, whose regulatory agencies are controlled by the industry, have concluded that GMO foods are “safe” based on the idea of "substantial equivalence," such that if a new food is found to be substantially equivalent in composition and nutritional characteristics to an existing food, it can be regarded as safe as the conventional food.
However, several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GMO food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen, and gastrointestinal system. Moreover, despite their claim of safety, GMO manufacturers are spending millions of dollars to fight labeling efforts. They don’t want you to know what you are eating because, if you knew, you wouldn’t eat it anymore.
Specificity of the association of GMO foods and specific disease processes is also supported. Multiple animal studies show significant immune dysregulation, including upregulation of cytokines associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation. Animal studies also show altered structure and function of the liver, including altered lipid and carbohydrate metabolism as well as cellular changes that could lead to accelerated aging. Changes in the kidney, pancreas, and spleen have also been documented. A 2008 study links GMO corn with infertility, showing a significant decrease in offspring over time and significantly lower litter weight in mice fed GMO corn. American pig farmers have reported infertility and false pregnancies in their livestock after feeding them GMO corn. The study also found that over 400 genes were found to be expressed differently in mice fed GMO corn. These are genes known to control protein synthesis and modification, cell signaling, cholesterol synthesis, and insulin regulation. Studies also show intestinal damage in animals fed GMO foods, including proliferative cell growth and disruption of the intestinal immune system.
Because of this mounting data, it is biologically plausible for genetically modified foods to cause adverse health effects in humans. Despite this risk, the biotech industry claims that GMO foods can safely feed the world through the production of higher crop yields. However, a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists reviewed 12 academic studies and indicates otherwise: "The several thousand field trials over 20 years for genes aimed at increasing operational or intrinsic yield (of crops) indicate a significant undertaking. Yet none of these field trials have resulted in increased yield in commercialized major food/feed crops, with the exception of Bt corn (a bee killer)." However, it was further stated that the increase in yields was largely due to traditional breeding improvements.
Therefore, because GMO foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic, and genetic health and are without any of their claimed benefits, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) believes that it is imperative to adopt the precautionary principle, which is one of the main regulatory tools of the European Union environmental and health policy and serves as a foundation for several international agreements. The most used definition is from the 1992 Rio Declaration which states: "In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities.” Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
Another often used definition originated from an environmental meeting in the United States in 1998 stating: "When an activity raises threats to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken, even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context, the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof (of the safety of the activity).” Do you hear that Monsanto? You must prove your food is safe!
What does this mean to you? About 70% of the foods in your grocery store (in America) contain GMOs. Most products that contain soy (except most soy milk) corn, canola, and cottonseed oil are GMOs unless they are 100% USDA certified organic. If you wish to avoid them, shop for organic foods, avoid processed foods, and buy local fresh vegetables and fruits or grow your own.
Dow, Bayer, DuPont, and the other biotech giants have made genetically modified foods into a multi-billion-dollar industry, and are making bold, unsupported claims that they will solve world malnutrition and increase crop yields to promote their products. In reality, these genetically engineered seeds are made by the same companies who make pesticides and fertilizer, and who are now coming close to controlling the world’s food supply, with the help of governments, especially the U.S. government.
The case for genetically engineered foods has been made by scientists employed by the chemical industries. Conventional farming has destroyed biodiversity in our food supply. GMOs will go one step further. Here is a summary of their false claims:
GMOs will not end world hunger
GMO crops have been conclusively proven to be irrelevant in the feeding of the worlds’ hungry, according to a statement signed by 24 delegates from 18 African countries to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. An I-Stat report, sponsored by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, authored by more than 400 scientists, and signed on by 58 countries, concluded that genetically modified foods produce no greater yields and can have no possible contribution to end world hunger.
They do not produce greater yields, according to a comprehensive 2009 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which demonstrated that GMO soybean and corn produced no increase in intrinsic yield over conventional soybean and corn. And a 2008 study demonstrated that organic farming methods with little or no chemical fertilizer and pesticide use were able to increase crop yields by 116%. GMO crops are mostly engineered to contain their own pesticides or to be resistant to herbicides, or both. None of this translates to the end of world hunger and, even if they did produce higher yields, this would not impact world hunger at all, because the world already produces enough food to feed the world’s population. World hunger is a socio-political and economic problem that GMOs will not solve. After all, they are not going to give them away, are they?
GMOs will not reduce pesticide use
Actually, GMOs are still treated with pesticides. The most popular of these products are genetically engineered to not be killed by Roundup (glyphosate) so farmers can merely spray glyphosate on the plants, and it will kill all the weeds, but not the plants. Once sprayed on the plants, the glyphosate enters the plants and is consumed by humans or animals who consume the product, which wreaks havoc on their microbiomes and causes the above-referenced long-term health problems. A 2012 study concluded that the rise of glyphosate-resistant “super weeds” has actually increased pesticide use in the last 15 years. The study estimated that if new strains of GMO corn and soybeans are approved for commercial use, herbicide use could increase by 50%.
GMOs are not safe to eat
The FDA does not test the safety of GMO crops. Instead, all GMO foods are assumed to be safe unless there is already evidence to the contrary. The FDA relies on self-reported data from the companies that manufacture the GMO crops as to their safety. Moreover, due to legal and copyright restrictions surrounding GMO patents, independent scientists must ask for the chemical companies’ permission before publishing research on their products. As a result, almost all the long-term animal feeding studies that have ever been conducted on GMO feed have been carried out by the biotech companies themselves, with their own rules and using their own standards of reporting. What few independent studies have been conducted have shown a range of adverse health effects from reduced fertility to immune system dysfunction, liver failure, obesity, and cancer.
As mentioned earlier, Roundup Ready crops are known to be laced with glyphosate, which causes the destruction of beneficial microfloral bacteria necessary for digestion, and results in conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The United States has government agencies such as the USDA and FDA which are responsible for keeping our crops and food safe. The problem with this is that both agencies are run by the companies they are supposed to regulate. In a classic case of revolving door politics that the U.S. government is so famous for, the former Deputy Commissioner of Foods, Michael R. Taylor, refused to make FDA testing of GMO safety mandatory and that policy continues today. Taylor worked for the FDA from 1976 to 1981, when he went into private practice at a law firm that represented Monsanto, only to return through the revolving door to the FDA in 1991. In 1988 he published an article entitled "The De Minimis Interpretation of the Delany Clause: Legal and Policy Rationale "in the Journal of the American College of Toxicology (now called the International Journal of Toxicology), which he had previously presented in December 1986 at a symposium on Topics in Risk Analysis, sponsored by International Life Sciences Institute Risk Science Institute, Society for Risk Analysis, and Brookings Institution. The paper was delivered and published during the midst of a debate and litigation over federal agencies' interpretation of the Delaney clause, a part of federal law written in 1958 that on its face, literally prohibits any chemical from being added, in any amount, to food that is processed, if that agent is carcinogenic.
As analytical instrumentation increased in power and more and more agents were found to be carcinogenic at very low levels, the agencies had developed a quantitative risk assessment approach to interpreting the Delaney Clause, which stated that if a carcinogen was present at levels less than 1 in 1,000,000 parts, the risk of that carcinogen was "de minimis" and it could be allowed on the market. In the article, Taylor presented arguments in favor of this approach. Advocates in favor of organic food have criticized Taylor for taking this stance and have attributed the stance not to a good faith effort to reasonably regulate, but to an alleged desire to benefit Monsanto financially.
Between 1994 and 1996 Taylor went back through the revolving door to the USDA, where he acted as Administrator of the Food Safety & Inspection Service. During that term he implemented a science-based approach to raising safety standards for meat and poultry production over the protests from industry, which has been called by food safety advocates "a truly heroic accomplishment (but that was the only one). Between 1996 and 2000, after briefly returning to King & Spalding, he then returned to Monsanto to become Vice President for Public Policy. In 2009, Taylor once again returned to government through the revolving door as Senior Advisor to the FDA Commissioner and was appointed by President Obama on January 13, 2010 to another newly created post at the FDA, this time as Deputy Commissioner for Foods where he served until 2016. The current Deputy Commissioner of Foods is Frank Yiannis, who was a high-level executive at Walmart before passing through the revolving door.
GMO technology is not the same as conventional breeding techniques
The industry argues that there is no difference between conventional breeding techniques and genetic engineering except for the time frame involved. What used to take years and years can now be accomplished in a laboratory in a short time, they say.
This is not true. Conventional breeding takes one strain of a certain crop, such as corn, and breeds it with another strain of that same crop. Genetic engineering takes genetic material from one species, such as a bacterium or an animal, and forces it into the genetic material of a crop, such as corn or cotton. This can be done by a variety of techniques, such as the use of gene guns to fire the genetic material into the cell of the target organism, a process that leads to random and unintended genetic mutations.
The need to label GMOs
The argument for why companies should not have to label GMOs is ridiculous. They simply think the public should not know what they are eating because it would “scare them.” On the other hand, there are people who think that all foods should list what they are composed of, such as has been long required by law in food labeling.
One of the best responses that have been made in response to the GMO arguments were made by 14-year-old activist, Rachel Parent, who challenged a GMO proponent on his own show and destroyed him as well as all the arguments. You can see the video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIXER_yZUBg.
You are probably eating many genetically modified foods. Almost all processed foods contain common ingredients like corn starch and soy protein, which are predominantly derived from genetically modified crops. In fact, GMOs are present in 60 to 70 percent of foods on US supermarket shelves, according to the Center for Food Safety. No meat, fish, and poultry products approved for direct human consumption are bioengineered at the present time, but most of the feed for livestock and fish is derived from GM corn, alfalfa, and other biotech grains. Only organic varieties of these animal products are guaranteed GMO-free feed. The following fresh fruits and vegetables are also genetically modified:
- Papayas:In the 1990s, Hawaiian papaya trees were plagued by the ringspot virus which decimated nearly half the crop in the state. In 1998, scientists developed a transgenic fruit called Rainbow papaya, which is resistant to the virus. Now 77% of the papaya grown in Hawaii is genetically engineered, and there are bills currently being proposed in the state to abolish them altogether. GMO papaya has been banned in the European Union.
- Milk: rGBH, or recombinant bovine growth hormone, is a GE variation on a naturally occurring hormone injected into dairy cows to increase milk production. It is banned for milk destined for human consumption in the European Union, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, and Australia. Many milk brands that are rGBH-free label their milk as such, but as much as 40 % of dairy products, including ice cream and cheese, contains the hormone.
- Corn:While 90% of the corn grown in the United States is genetically modified, most of that crop is used for animal feed or ethanol and much of the rest ends up in processed foods. Sweet corn was GMO-free until last year when Monsanto rolled out its first harvest of sweet corn. Walmart has already begun to sell it without any labeling. Bayer (formerly Monsanto) is one of the largest and most notorious producers of many of the GMO foods that fill the produce sections of America’s supermarkets. Bt corn, named after the Bacillus thruringiensis bacterium, is a form of sweet corn that has been genetically modified to include an insect-killing gene. This means the farmer doesn’t have to spray with insecticide, because the insects die from eating the corn (but they spray it with herbicide anyway to kill the weeds). The same gene that attacks corn predators also appears to kill the Monarch butterfly and GMO corn has been banned in Europe for causing the death of bees. Moreover, all Bt corn planted in the U.S. is routinely treated with neonicotinoids.
- Squash and zucchini: While most squashes on the market are not GE, approximately 25,000 acres of crookneck, straight neck, and zucchinis have been bioengineered to be virus resistant.
- Rice: While there are currently no varieties of FM rice approved for human consumption, a genetically modified variety of golden rice being developed in the Philippines has been altered to include beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. The argument in favor of this GMO product is to alleviate the deficiency of vitamin A in developing countries, but studies show that it would take a massive amount of daily consumption of this rice (over 27 bowls) to satisfy the minimum daily requirement of the nutrient.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes were the first GMO food to reach the market. Since I lived part time in the United States and part time in Europe, I always wondered why tomatoes in Europe tasted better, were different sizes, and rotted quickly and the ones in the United States had no taste. This is because the tomatoes in the U.S. are modified to be bigger, and to avoid rotting so quickly. Moreover, the original GMO tomatoes were resistant to antibiotics, which raises the concern that this may be passed on to humans.
- Soy: Soy can be found in tofu, vegetarian products, soybean oil, soy flour, and numerous other products. Most strains of soy that make it to grocery stores have been genetically modified to resist herbicides. As Discovery.com points out, “Because soy is widely used in the production of other items (including cereal, baked products, chocolate and even ice cream), chances are everybody in the US is eating GM soy.”
- Others: Many vitamins may be sourced from GMO materials, and some bananas available in U.S. groceries stores have been identified as GMO. Some forms of alfalfa, used for animal feed, have been genetically modified. Vegetable oil is most likely from GMO soy, corn, or canola. Likewise, margarine, is likely to by GMO as well, as it is made from vegetable oil. Many processed breads contain GMO additives. In addition, many breakfast cereals contain HFCS and soy products that are genetically engineered.
Beware of foods that are labeled as “natural” or made with “natural” ingredients. At the present time, there is no restriction for the use of this label with GMO foods, which is the issue of class action suits against General Mills, Campbell Soup Co., and the tortilla manufacturer Gruma Corp. Since the manufacturers and sellers of GMO foods are not required to label them in the United States, you really cannot be sure of what you are eating unless it is certified organic. Organic foods cannot be grown with pesticides, antibiotics, or genetic modification.
There are now GMO versions of potatoes, apples, sugar beets, pink pineapples, and eggplant. There is even bio-engineered salmon on the market and, of course, all the animal feed is GMO.
The six largest producers of GE seeds- Bayer, Syngenta, Dow Agrosciences, BASF, and DuPont- are also the biggest producers of chemical pesticides. Bayer’s Roundup Ready crops are genetically engineered to be immune to herbicides so that farmers can destroy weeds without killing their crops. But the process has spawned glyphosate-resistant super weeds, leading farmers to apply greater and greater doses of the chemical or even resort to more toxic methods to battle back the superweeds. This amounts to hundreds of millions of extra pounds of pesticides being pumped into the ecosphere, which also translates into higher profits for the huge chemical companies.
A diet of grains and corn is far from a healthy diet. For proper nutrition, you also need to consume fresh fruits and vegetables. There is the attitude at some levels that U.S. agriculture will shift almost entirely to crops like wheat, corn, and soybeans and that we will have to get our fresh produce from other countries. If this happens, the cost of fruits and vegetables to U.S. consumers will skyrocket.
This is unacceptable. But some people believe that the alternative of returning to classical agriculture and reducing the use of pesticides and eliminating systemic pesticides entirely is not economically feasible. And the powers that be are aligned with the corporate agricultural block that reaps the profits of pesticide-intensive monoculture. Creating a more bee-friendly and food-friendly environment would require an environmentally friendly leadership attitude by elected officials with less preoccupation on short-term profits and more thought given to long-term consequences. This would require policy changes that favor environmentally friendly practices and discourage pesticide use.
Despite majority public support, most elected officials refuse to even support laws which would even require food labels to let consumers know which foods were GMO and which were treated with systemic pesticides. Congressmen and local elected officials from agricultural states are adamant in their support for the current use of pesticides and commercial agricultural practices. Besides the bee die-off, ‘modern’ agriculture has contaminated the drinking water in several states and depleted the topsoil of natural nutrients and beneficial organisms. Remember that your health has been sold out the next time you go the voting booth and “unelect” any local or federal lawmaker you suspect has been bought by the “too big to fail” agriculture or chemical companies.
A new study on genetically modified crops shows that they can spread their “benefits” to nearby weeds, making the weeds resistant to herbicides and defeating the purpose of their genetic modification. GMO crops are typically designed to resist glyphosate, the active ingredient in Bayer’s Roundup. This allows farmers to spray their crops so that the surrounding weeds die, but the genetically modified Roundup Ready crops (also produced by Bayer) survive. The resulting super weed offspring is also resistant to Roundup.
It had previously thought that this wouldn’t be a problem because it was presumed that any genetic modifications would make wild plants less fit for their environment. Instead, researchers have found that the offspring of a weed and a GMO crop can actually give the weed advantages over other weeds. Weedy rice, a pest for many farmers, was shown to be Roundup-resistant when mixed with GMO crops. Additionally, GMO-wild hybrids produced crops that photosynthesized more, and produced more shoots, flowers, and seeds than wild plants, thus spreading the effects of contamination in the ecosphere and threatening to “choke out” existing species. Contamination will likely result in the domination of the GMO species and the extinction of contaminated species.
Recently in Oregon, a farmer discovered contaminated wheat that originated from Monsanto GMO trials years ago that were conducted many miles away. As a result, several countries have decided to cut their wheat imports from the United States. Wheat is the number one U.S. agricultural export.
Since GMOs are stronger than natural plants and tend to overtake them, like weeds, it is likely that they will overtake and eliminate many beneficial plant species by the process of contamination, destroying plant biodiversity, a contributing factor to the decline in bee species. Moreover, GMOs’ genes transfer from the genetically modified plants into the soil, contaminating it as well. Further, Roundup (glyphosate), which is routinely sprayed on hundreds of millions of acres of GMO Roundup Ready crops, destroys beneficial bacteria in the soil, promoting disease.MO products are created by Monsanto called, “Roundup Ready” plants.
Americans eat corn in snacks but also consume it in many products that contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Proteins and fats in your food are incorporated into your body and brain with potentially profound effects on your health and even your behavior. A strand of hair can be tested to determine just how much corn is ingested by looking for a form of carbon found in corn. Americans’ carbon is typically about 69% from corn.
Foods and condiments, such as ketchup, salad dressing, soda, cookies, and chips all contain corn, usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup. This is translating to obesity and heart disease and the potential for type 2 diabetes. Europeans eat a diet with far fewer processed foods and corn-based sweeteners. Americans also eat an extraordinary amount of soybean oil, another key ingredient in most processed foods. And, yes, both products are GMO.
One key to maintaining good health is to not put poisonous foods into your body. Artificial ingredients found in processed foods are not natural and our bodies are not set up to properly digest them, which leads to digestive problems as well as disease. Genetically engineered foods and foods laden with pesticides are not healthy for your body. Wherever possible, you should seek out only organic foods or foods from local sources. Never eat anything out of a box, bottle, or can.
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