|Eating Genetically Engineered Foods
by a Concerned Mom
After mastering the art of juggling my little son, and typing at the same time; I completed my first article on genetically engineered foods. I had no idea I was eating this stuff, and you might not either. Please read, and share with others.
Genetically Engineered Foods
By December 1998, the U.S. government had approved the commercial sale of genetically engineered varieties of the following whole foods. No labeling or long-term safety tests were required. (According to The New York Times, about half of all soybeans and a third of all corn planted this year in the U.S. were genetically engineered.)
* Canola (oilseed rape)
* Chicory, red hearted (Radicchio)
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists
When you see a food product labeled as "ALL NATURAL" do you expect it to contain food that has been genetically modified by man? Unfortunately, genetically engineered (GE) foods have found their way in just about every processed food product available, and even some fresh produce. You may be aware that the use of antibiotics and hormones increase growth and milk production in our animals, but the food industry has taken it one step further. They are now genetically altering our fruits and vegetables.
But they must be safe, right? You decide. Despite the wariness of the scientists, the FDA allowed genetically modified foods to be sold commercially as early as 1994 without labels. In the US, all testing of genetically engineered foods is voluntary. The limited amount of test data available, has been performed by the companies that profit from selling the stuff. So, our health depends on the size of some major corporation's pocketbook.
Let The Creations Begin!
The most common genetically engineered food on the shelves include corn, soybeans, tomatoes, potatoes, squash and rapeseed. Canada is the great producer of rapeseed, from which Canola oil is derived. Especially, since Europe refuses to allow the cultivation of GE foods. So far, rapeseed has been genetically modified to be resistant to the fungal disease Blackleg, and the herbicide Round-up.
The Flavr Savr tomato, which could be any one of those in your fridge, was developed by reversing the orientation of the gene that causes softening. A firmer yielding tomato is the result. The yellow crookneck squash ZW-20, has in effect received a vaccination through the gene splicing. It is resistant to viruses because the protein coats of those viruses have been inserted in its genetic makeup.
Because its genetic makeup has been infused with protein genes derived from bacteria, Bt corn produces its own pesticide, Bt toxin. The same has been done to the Russet potato. Those McDonald french fries don't sound so good now, do they?
Similarly, Monsanto Round-up Ready soybeans produce their own herbicide. Though it originally was designed to reduce the amount of herbicides used on the beans, the crops are now requiring more herbicide than before. Monsanto has already applied this technique to the sweet beet, also.
It's All About Money
Monsanto is a major contributor to the generation of genetically engineered foods. They are responsible for making various vegetables, including soybeans, resistant to the herbicide Round-up. Interestingly, they also are the producers of Round-up. Let's see, Round-up resistant foods allow greater use of Round-up; which increases the amount of Roundup purchased. Do you see where this is heading?
Monsanto's history isn't without flaw, either. They are the great producers of the herbicide DDT, which was banned in 1968, and the infamous Agent Orange. They are also the creators of the Terminator seeds. These seeds produce a crop that yields no seeds for future planting, forcing the farmers to purchase new seeds every year.
Organic farmers adjacent or near fields of genetically engineered crop will not be able to guarantee the authenticity of their product. Pollen spread by bees can transfer genes between plants miles apart. The genetically altered crops could "weed" out the organic ones, making non-genetically engineered food obsolete.
Genetically engineered foods contribute to the growing resistance of infections to antibiotics. And similarly, will cause bugs to become resistant to pesticides. To ensure that the gene splicing occurs, the genes are marked with antibiotic resistant genes. Though this is most economical for the research labs, it passes this resistance to the mammal that digests the product. The use of Bt corn and potatoes will impact the ecological system by generating Bt toxin-resistant pests.
What's A Person To Do?
First, go through your pantry. You may not eat corn or tofu, but start reading the labels on your pasta dishes, energy bars, cookies, soda or cake mix. Derivatives from the foods still contain the genetic blueprint. Some common ones are:
* Soy flour
* Soy oil
* Soy protein isolates and concentrates
* Corn flour
* Corn starch
* Corn oil
* Corn sweeteners & syrups
* Cottonseed oil
* Canola oil
Second, avoid the foods that are known to be genetically engineered. Buy organic when possible. If not possible avoid the Russet potato, and stick with the Roma tomatoes. Only certain varieties have been altered thus far.
Third, sign the petitions at the web sites below. Send a letter to one of the major food companies expressing your refusal to buy GE foods. Become knowledgeable of the subject, and inform others.
Who are we to think that we can perfect that which God has created?
A plethora of news articles and information documents on the risks of genetically engineered foods. From Monsanto's soybeans to the recent StarLink corn scare. This site has it all.
www.truefoodnow.org Lists foods that contain Genetically Engineered products, those that do not and those that are phasing out. It also contains information on how to join the fight for genetically engineered food labels.
www.centerforfoodsafety.org Partial list of foods that have tested positive for genetically engineered products.
www.fda.gov An eye-opening interview with FDA's Jim Maryanski.
www.thecampaign.org The campaign to label genetically engineered foods.
www.gefoodalert.org Gives you the opportunity to send a personal postcard to the FDA, requesting that they begin labeling genetically engineered foods.
www.safe-food.org Sign a petition to get those genetically engineered foods labeled!
www.monsantos.com An excellent look at the manufacturer of the genetically engineered soy bean. Monsanto's history of producing the most dangerous toxins goes way back.
www.bio-integrity.org Another page you just have to visit. It contains lawsuit information, and how the FDA has approved the use of genetically engineered foods despite the scientists' opposition.
www.purefood.org Hazards of genetically altered food and more.