GMOs – So Why Should I Care?

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GMOs are in the news a lot lately and rightly so. GMOs, genetically modified organisms, have been tinkered with. That tasty ear of corn on the cob, papayas from Hawaii, alfalfa, canola oil, soy and sugar beets are some of the foods or food sources likely to have altered genes.  The animals that eat the GMO foods may also be suspect.

It’s important to recognize that a GMO does not occur in nature. Biotech scientists have inserted genes from bacteria, viruses, or other plants and animals into an organism — say corn genes into strawberries or mouse DNA into sugar beets. Although GMOs were supposedly going to increase yields, make plants more drought tolerant and improve nutrition, what has actually happened is the GMOS have made commercial plants better able to tolerate herbicides or able to produce an insecticide — very beneficial to the herbicide makers, but not to the consumer. At the time of this writing, at least 80 percent of what most Americans are eating is genetically modified, according to the Non-GMO Project. Here’s a quote from “GMO Myths and Truths,” an excellent examination of GMO-related issues and a document I highly recommend you read:

“Most studies with GMO 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.”

Stripped of the 50-cent words, what that sentence says is people who eat GMO foods may be affecting organs such as the liver, pancreas (think diabetes, currently endemic in the U.S.) kidneys and reproductive organs. Not to mention altering their blood cells, body chemistry and immune systems. To discover the long term effects of such eating will require chronic toxicity studies, which means the people in this “experiment” will have to be examined after years of exposure to see just what damage GMOs might do. The document has two pages of examples of the negative effects of GMO foods on laboratory animals. Studies  not paid for or performed by those who stand to benefit from GMOs consistently found that GM foods were more toxic or more likely to cause allergic reactions than their non-GM counterparts. (Reminds me of all the tobacco industry studies that were suppressed or doctored to show tobacco didn’t really cause cancer or kill people.) In addition, herbicide use has increased 15-fold since GMOs were introduced. Those of you old enough to remember the Agent Orange issues from the Vietnam War will understand why increased use of herbicides is not a good thing.

Since the feds aren’t interested in regulating GMO foods, individual states are working on the issue. In every case, the corporations that stand to benefit from not having GMO foods labeled are fighting the proposed laws, which would allow consumers to make their own decisions — and 53% would not buy GMO foods, according to a recent CBS/New York Times poll. Twenty-six states introduced GMO labeling laws in 2013. Food manufactures and seed producers are spending millions ($17.2 million has been raised for the current Washington state battle by contributors such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences and Bayer CropScience) to defeat these proposed laws.

Read up on the issue and let your voice be heard. Your health and that of your children depend on it. In the meantime, buy organic whenever you can, as organic foods aren’t supposed to have GMOs in them.

 

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