This is a issue all of us need to be aware of. I have borrowed a couple of articles that I have found that may help to explain what GMO foods are and how they affect you and your family.
Farmers all over the world are throwing down political and environmental battle lines over the cultivation of genetically modified (GMO) crops.
On the pro side, supporters claim that changes to the genetic structure of a plant can help it resist weed killers, avoid pests, and yield more crops, but the anti-GMOers remind us that the long-term effects of these foods just aren’t clear.
And while some GMO crops are common (like cotton) and others aren’t found anywhere (like rice), the countries on these pages have banned GMO versions of major cash crops: sugar beets, maize, eggplant, and more.
We’re all used to thinking of sugar as something that comes from cane, but it also comes from beets — and the United States puts out more than 33 million tons of the root to make it the fourth-largest sugar supplier in the world.
Until August 2010, those beets were allowed to contain a genetic modification that made them resistant to weedkiller — but a recent ruling overturned the 2005 approval of GMO sugar beets, meaning that no more can be planted until the court reviews an environmental impact statement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (which can take as long as 36 months).
The sugar beet ban isn’t the first of its kind in this country, though: A previous ruling disallowed the planting of genetically modified alfalfa, fed to cows, in a victory for organic farmers who opposed the GMO crop on the grounds that the genes could transfer to their other crops.
According to Science magazine, a June decision from the Supreme Court claimed that the ban had been too far-reaching, and ordered the USDA to put together planting instructions for farmers who do want to plant the herbicide-resistant alfalfa.
The European Union has been at the center of a 12-year stalemate over the planting of genetically modified crops and plants. According to The Guardian, a GMO corn product developed in 1998 started the fight, which pitched countries in favor of the GMO crops against those who wanted to ban it.
A new proposal would allow EU members to decide for themselves if they want to ban or allow GMO crops in their own country; pro-GMO countries include Spain, Sweden, and Britain, while Austria, Germany, Hungary, Greece, and others are against GMOs.
Still, some GMO crops are grown in Europe, including maize and potatoes.
In spite of the EU deadlock, some countries have taken the GMO bans into their own hands: Hungary, Austria, France, Luxembourg, and Greece all prohibited the cultivation of Monsanto’s MON 810 maize, according to Greenpeace, and Germany joined them in April 2009.
Though the European Commission — the executive body of the EU responsible for legislation — requested that the bans in Austria and Hungary be struck down, the environmental ministers of the European Union voted in March 2009 that the country’s bans could stay.
This spring, however, the BBC reported that fields in seven German states had been accidentally contaminated with NK603, a type of GMO maize banned throughout Europe.
In March 2010, Bulgaria passed a law that prohibits the planting of all GMO crops — including Maize 810 and the Amflora potato, which was added to Europe’s list of approved GMO crops that same month.
The Amflora potato is developed to provide industrial starch, used in paper, concrete, and adhesive production; BASF, which developed the potato to provide “pure amylopectin starch” (instead of the amylopectin/amylose blend that non-GMO potatoes produce) says that it doesn’t expect the starch to be used in food, and that it is “safe for humans, animals and the environment.”
Madeira, a small island that’s an “autonomous region” of Portugal, requested a country-wide ban on genetically modified crops last year — and this May, according to The New York Times, the European Commission let the deadline to fight the ban slip by without comment.
According to the article, this marks the first time that a country has been allowed “to impose such a sweeping and definitive rejection of the technology”; other countries that have banned certain crops have run into opposition.
Madeira banned GMOs in an effort to keep its laurel forests — the biggest in the world — and biodiversity intact, and to hold onto its position as a World Heritage Site, as the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization named it in 1999.
Switzerland banned all genetically modified crops, animals, and plants on its fields and farms in a public referendum that goes back as far as 2005, but the initial ban was for only five years; in those years, a national research program put together programs that addressed everything from the health effects of mildew-resistant wheat to promoting “customer acceptance” and “assuring freedom of choice.”
Still, with the end of the ban approaching in November, the Scientific Commission of the Swiss National Assembly voted in February 2010 to extend the ban through 2013, according to GMO Compass. (Field trials that address the dangers and benefits of the crops are allowed to continue under “strict conditions.”)
But it’s not only Europe that’s navigating the tricky waters of GMO foods: In India, where genetically modified cotton has been a staple crop for eight years, the country’s Environment Minister put in place a last-minute ban on GMO eggplant, which growers had planned to start cultivating in 2010.
The state leaders behind 60 percent of India’s eggplant crop promised to reject the GMO eggplant, even if it were federally approved — and even if it were able to increase the crop yield by resisting pests.
Though farmers from other states say the GMO version produced the same amount of the crop as the conventional versions, they reported easier weed control — still, in January when Western Australia allowed the crop into its fields, South Australia’s Agriculture Minister said he intended to keep the ban in place.
Here is another one….
The Effects of Genetically Modified Foods
By Dr. Edward F. Group III
What are Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO Foods?
Scientists have been and are currently introducing genetic material into organisms to alter, create and affect changes in living plants and animals. These radical changes scientists are developing create specific, desirable traits that might never evolve naturally and in my opinion are extremely dangerous.
Collectively called recombinant DNA technology, this practice changes the core genetic make-up of organisms. This genetic manipulation gives scientists the ability to create any trait that they wish, or suppress natural traits they don’t want. There are several reasons this unnatural genetic manipulation may affect you.
- It’s usually not clear which consumables have been genetically manipulated.
- You don’t know the long term health effects of these genetically modified foods. Initial research has shown that short-term reactions can be severe.
- Agro-chemical companies and the government are planning to charge farmers fees to grow their GMO crops, thereby negatively affecting the economy and environment.
Cultivated Genetically Modified Foods – From bacteria (E. coli) and fungus, fruits and vegetables to animals, genetic manipulation is becoming more and more common in our society. In the US market now, 60 to 70% of the processed foods are genetically modified. In 2006, United States GMO crops reached just shy of 135 million acres, with the total global area exceeding 250 million acres!¹
This is a short list of the genetically modified food crops that are grown in the US today:
And each week more are being created at an alarming rate!
Processed consumer goods made with GMO ingredients – The bio-chemical industry is fiercely going after two crops, corn and soy, because of their high demand for use throughout our processed goods and biofuel industries.
For companies to increase and control the yield of these crops, it would mean controlling a large part of the processed goods and biofuels markets. It would also mean considerable profit as they can patent these crops and technically OWN THEM!
For now, you won’t see GMO on the labels of foods in the US. Currently, producers are not required to tell you, because, believe it or not, the Federal government has declared it’s their choice to determine what is good for you and what foods are safe for your consumption – and we know how far that is gotten us.
Following is a short list of processed foods made with genetically modified organisms.
The list of GMO products on the market today is long and growing. So, I recommend doing your research because the USDA made the following determination: These products don’t need to be labeled with GMO content information unless the product presents the threat of causing allergic reactions in humans. Amazing, huh?
Several sites on the internet today are working hard to track and compile such information regarding these man-made foods. The items above are compiled from several lists including the 2003 food guide from The True Food Network².
Can you believe that scientists are now actually modifying plants to manufacture pharmaceutical compounds (a technique known as “pharming”), trees which will yield fruit and nuts much earlier in the season than they would naturally, plants that produce new kinds of plastics, and fish that reproduce more rapidly!
The long-term dangers of Genetically Modified Foods is uncertain, but we have already seen severe short-term reactions
In 1989, a Japanese company paid out a $2 billion dollar settlement to several thousand American citizens who became ill from a genetically modified version of L-Tryptophan³. Several dozen Americans died from ingesting L-Tryptophan before it was taken off the market. Today, some health practitioners are returning to non-GMO L-Tryptophan for use in treating sleep disorders.
In 1996, animal tests, conducted after the danger was inflicted on humans, proved that there was a severe danger from genes spliced from Brazil nuts and soybeans. The danger: allergic reactions so severe that the individuals could suffer anaphylactic shock, possibly leading to death4.
In 2006, Japan suspended long grain rice imports from the US after tests revealed that the rice contained trace amounts of GMO that were not approved for human consumption. In the US, we still accept variations of the banned genetic modification to the rice5.
It all started by the government giving blanket approval to the “Frankenstein” tomato. You see, by 1994, the government made a stunning decision, one that reeks of something foul. They decided that since the Flavr Savr® performed “so well in its tests” that its results would stand for any further GMO produce. Because of that, no further testing would be required before presenting it to consumers for consumption.6
The FDA suppressed a report that described lesions being created in the stomachs of mice that had eaten the Flavr Savr®. As a matter of fact, “Seven out of forty rats tested died within two weeks for unstated reasons.”8
Are there fees that farmers will have to pay to grow GMO crops?
Genetically Modified Foods are now being marketed as the crops of the future. You can have everything you want in produce, meat and milk, and they can make it happen. Don’t doubt the economic gain that these agro-chemical companies are seeking.
The following two plans are under development by Monsanto of the US, and AstraZeneca of Britain. They fall under the trait-specific technology, called Genetic Use Restriction Technology (T-GURT).
“Technology Protection,” is how they sell it. “Terminator” technology makes plants that would produce sterile seeds after one season. This means, farmers have to buy more seeds for the next harvest.
“Traitor” technology is a trait-specific technology that develops traits which would remain dormant in crops. Farmers can choose to activate this trait by spraying their crops with a proprietary chemical compound. This means, they’ll have to buy the proprietary compound to treat their crops in order to activate it. There are even biochemical companies requiring farmers to sign agreements to not save any of their seeds for re-planting. This means that instead of using the seeds for the next planting season, they have to get rid of them and buy more seeds.
Why would business and the government do something like this?
The USDA, Monsanto and AstraZeneca, have contrived a way to make money on two fronts: First they make money on gene modification. Second, they make money because farmers have to pay them annually to continue to grow crops. It’s apparently dollars and cents all the way, no sense of human protection involved. The USDA is actually in business with Monsanto in owning some of the genetic engineering technology patents.
Margaret Wertheim, in a 2002 article in LA Weekly, expressed fears that “Quietly and stealthily, our fields are being turned into industrial factories. This is potentially the most dangerous technology since nuclear power, yet we have no way of finding out what is being done.”7
How are GMO foods toxic?
Genetically modified foods affect the human physiology. A study of people in the Philippines reported that their bodies developed antibodies to Bt toxin. What this means is that, the human body processed these engineered traits into their guts and reacted to them. These same consumers of the GMO corn in the Philippines also developed a resistance to the antibiotic ampicillin.
This antibiotic resistance is something that science hadn’t foreseen-which is indicative of questionable experimentation and not enough testing. And it makes me wonder if there is a bigger picture at hand. Maybe to create more illness and sell you more pharmaceuticals?
How to Eliminate Toxins from Genetically Modified Foods
- Whenever possible, eat all natural foods. Shop at your local farmers market for fresh foods which supports your local economy.
- Use only organically grown fruit and vegetables. Organic crops are grown using no genetic modification or toxic pesticides and herbicides.
- Your zucchini and yellow squash may be genetically modified too. Use only locally grown or organic produce.
- Be careful to eat only organic varieties of popcorn and corn. They are very often genetically modified.
- Grow your own fruit and vegetables if you can. Be sure your location is not in close proximity to plants, industry or bioengineered farms.
- When you’re shopping for meat and dairy products, be sure to look for the hormone and antibiotic-free, organic, range fed information on the label.
- Avoid canola oil and cottonseed oil. Use instead, organic sources of grape seed oil, virgin coconut oil, hempseed oil and olive oil which are available at organic and whole foods markets.
- Check your condiments for organic labels. You can find organic fermented sources for soy like natto (fermented soybeans), tempeh, miso, tamari, and tofu.
- Aspartame is genetically modified and is very toxic, it’s best to avoid all products that contain this substance.
- Take action. Write your council members and grocery executives. Let them know that you want fresh foods in your stores. Ask them to stock organic and no GMO foods.
- Visit www.truefoods.org for the extensive list of foods and brand names that contain GMOs.