At some point, most people have heard about GMOs or seen the “Non-GMO” label but what exactly are GMOs and how do they effect you and your health? This description is taken from the Institute for Responsible Technology website:
“A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans.”
Doesn’t that sound horrific? So when and why did the use of GMOs start? In 1994 the Flavr Savr tomato was approved on grocery store shelves and was genetically modified to prevent the ripening of the tomato for a longer shelf life. The production of GMO foods had a steady climb until 1999 when over 100 million acres of genetically modified seeds were planted worldwide. This was a huge, and unfortunate turn in our farming history and with a constant conversation about what GMOs do to our health, a study was done in 2011 for Bt toxins (a powerful toxin found in genetically modified foods) in pregnant women which showed that the Bt toxins were being passed on to fetuses. What is Bt toxin? Here is a description of Bt toxin and effects it has on the body from the Global Healing Center website:
“Bt is toxic to many of the insects that can disrupt a farming operation. It’s widely used as a biological pesticide and, in fact, Bt is the most widely used biological pesticide in the world. Bt application can happen one of two ways — Bt can be sprayed on crops or it can be added to the DNA of genetically modified crops. Neither method is positive for health or society, but the second is quite interesting in that it actually embeds a self-contained pesticide within the crop. If a bug eats corn that contains Bt, the bug dies — simple. In the United States, Bt use is widely used on corn, cotton, and potatoes, among other crops, and it’s been pushed as a less dangerous alternative to harsh chemical pesticides.
Perhaps part of the reason for the push is that Bt can be cheaply produced. This has lead to a peanut gallery of industry yes men who are eager to chant, “it’s safe, it’s safe!” despite a widely held belief that the safety of Bt has not been verified. In fact, many experts believe that Bt is not safe at all.”
They go on to discuss what it does to the body and the health problems that stem from it:
“Bt does not kill insect larvae by smothering them with love and hugs. Bt is an aggressive toxin that damages cell membranes and kills insects by, literally, making their stomach burst. This has caused some researchers to examine the negative effects Bt toxin may inflict on human health… and the negative effects are many. Bt’s aggressive mechanism harms the digestive system by effectively attacking normal gut cells thereby burning holes in the intestines. This can cause problems such as leaky gut syndrome. Even worse, Bt doesn’t exit your body with the unused remnants of the food it entered with.
Research has shown that the Bt toxin persists in the gastrointestinal tract of human-flora-associated rats weeks after exposure. Research has shown that Bt has a toxic effect on the lungs and other organs. In rare cases, Bt can even wreak havoc on the eyes, causing severe irritation and even blindness.”
Does this mean you are eating Bt toxins? Unfortunately, yes, it does. By eating the “standard” food on the shelves of your local grocery store you are in fact eating GMOs. If you are not eating organic, non-GMO foods, you are eating Bt along with many other chemicals pesticides and toxins. Do you have health problems, disorders, or disease? The first place you should be looking is your food. Studies continuously show that even “cleaned” or “washed” produce contains traces of Bt toxins, and some of your food may potentially have Bt “bred” into it.
While at the store recently I asked a clerk if something had GMOs in it. She looked confused and asked, “What’s a GMO?” I said, “it’s a genetically modified organism.” She then asked, “and what is wrong with eating those?” I explained “scientists and studies show that the consumption of GMOs causes disease like cancer, mental illness and disorders like ADD”. She said, “oh, I don’t eat GMOs, I stay away from all that kind of stuff.” The problem is, if you don’t know what GMOs are, than you ARE eating them. As of October 2012, more than 70% off processed foods contained GMOs. There is no solid number because the United States does not require that food manufactures have to put this information on their packaging.
Do you eat corn? Because more than 88% of corn is genetically modified and the beef you eat which is fed corn, are also eating genetically modified corn.
Do you drink milk? The cows providing you milk are also eating this genetically modified corn which contaminates their milk and then is passed onto you.
Do you cook with canola oil? Over 90% of canola oil is genetically modified.
Foods like soy are even worse with 93% of soy being genetically modified. So unless you are searching out the 7% of soy that is not genetically modified, you ARE eating GMOs. This is also scary because most of the processed foods manufactured in the United Stated are made with corn and/or soy.
When you go to a restaurant, unless it states Organic on the menu or the mission statement of the company, you ARE eating GMOs. The food at the gas station, at the movie theater, at your company party, the food your children eat at school, they are all genetically modified.
The DARK Act
Another big concern, which is a hot debate right now is called “The DARK Act” which stands for “Deny Americans the Right to Know”. This is a law which if passed, does not require food manufactures to have to put information about whether or not their product contains GMOs. The bill would trump any pre-existing labeling laws and the term “natural” would begin to include some GMO contaminants. Currently, food manufactures do not have to label their products with a GMO label. The only existing label is “Non-GMO’. 64 countries, and over 40% of the world, already have food labeling laws which require that companies have to label their foods as genetically engineered. Interestingly enough, the same corporations who are fighting the labeling laws in the United States, are already labeling their foods in these other countries. But with the U.S. being such a large income for these companies, they fear the labeling of their foods in America could stand to loose them millions, if not billions of dollars.
But why not let people decide what to eat? Because more and more people are choosing to eat healthy. In Rohnert Park, California Amy’s Drive Thru is the first, organic, vegetarian drive-thru, which upon opening, had lines out the door and extensive media coverage. You may know the name Amy’s from your favorite natural frozen foods including their: pizza, breakfast burritos, and frozen dinners. ABC-7 reported that within their first five days of opening they were at full capacity for orders and could hardly keep up with the demand. Even worse for processed, GMO food companies? For the first time in it’s history, McDonalds locations are increasingly being closed. This shows a major shift in our ideas of food and our health and it won’t be slowing down anytime soon and for companies who profit on our ignorance, this spells trouble. So what can they do? Be sneaky. By not having to label their foods and by being allowed to use the term “natural” when their products do in fact have genetically engineered contents, it’s becoming more and more difficult for people to determine what does and doesn’t actually have GMOs in it.
So what do you do about it? Right now you are probably feeling the same way I did when I first learned about GMOs: overwhelmed and a bit defeated. What are you supposed to do? Or better yet, what are you supposed to eat? How can you make dinner for your children knowing that you’re essentially feeding them poison? How do you avoid eating in public without looking like a fanatic? Will food every be safe again?
The best solutions are:
- Grow your own food
- Buy only organic or non-GMO certified foods
- Fight the food manufactures who produce GMO foods through petitions or simply not buy from them.
Many people who eat GMOs have a similar mentally to people who smoke. Everyone knows smoking causes cancer but they still smoke. GMO foods cause cancer, impenitency, mental illness, disease and disorders on all levels, and are passed through the blood to our children, but people will still eat them. It is this mentality that food manufactures are banking on. As long as people buy GMO foods, manufactures will continue producing them. By growing our own foods, only buying organic and non-GMO, and educating ourselves on the food we are buying, we are putting these companies out of business one by one. By supporting them, we not only support their immoral business practices, but we support a future for our children, which is full of poisonous foods.
Don’t have a lot of space to grow your food? No problem! Check out my blog post on the How Optimize Your Small Garden Space for ways to utilize small areas for your growing. Even the smallest spaces can yield enough crops to feed a family or at least cut back on the amount of organic foods you have to purchase from the store.
There are also small businesses popping up around the country which allow you to purchase “subscriptions” to local organic farms which sell “shares” of their produce. If you don’t have the space, or time to manage your own garden, this is a fantastic option. You will receive organic foods and also be supporting your local farmers.
Look at buying organic or starting an organic garden as the best investment you’ve made for yourself and your loved ones. I think this quote by Ann Wigmore says it all, “The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.” Which is it for you?