|As I’ve said in the past, there is food and then there is “food”.Food is what previous generations would recognize as food, and “food” they wouldn’t recognize. You know, the enormous amount of processed food that is available to us these days. “Food” that make life oh so easy, and a lot of that “food” is labelled as healthy. “Food” is “food”, no matter what the label says.”Food” manufacturers have been packaging and distorting real food into all sorts of “yummy” concoctions for almost a century now. This packaging and distorting usually destroys the nutritional value of the real food, too. The “food” manufacturers even make true fake food, think butter vs. margarine or cheese in a can.
For several decades now, “food” has become even more of a science project, some good, but most bad. Genetic engineering (GE), also called genetically modified organisms (GMO), manipulates food at the DNA level. According to GreenMedInfo, foreign genetic material (i.e. a protein) is inserted into the DNA of a seed (such as corn, rice, or soybean) in order to create desired characteristics or behavior (more on these in a moment). DNA splicing is complicated business, and there are a lot of scientific assumptions in creating GMOs. Assumptions like only the expected result will occur, when in fact each GE modification has risks, such as loosing genetic information in the seed or weakening the seeds resistance against viruses.
The GreenMedInfo article asks the question we’re all asking, are GMOs safe? And the answer is it depends.
On the good side, there are some single cellular modifications such as modifying yeast to produce insulin or on a multicellular level, i.e. plants, they have created golden rice that is rich in vitamin A. These are good GE products, and because of these, the article says we shouldn’t condemn genetic engineering as a whole.
On the bad side, GMOs are not friendly at all. Most of these GMOs are altered to withstand herbicides and other toxins, bad characteristics which have been tested to cause cancer in lab rats (this study is highly controversial as expected). You might ask why, what’s so bad? Remember Agent Orange from the Vietnam War? It was sprayed over large areas to kill vegetation as part of chemical warfare. The Vietnamese people and U.S. servicemen suffered many health problems because of Agent Orange. Agent Orange IS Roundup. The technical name for both is glyphosate, and glyphosate is one of the toxins that has been spliced into plant DNA so that in the field the farmer can spray Roundup on the biotech crop and the soybeans or rice won’t die, but the weeds will. So Roundup is in the plant and sprayed on the plant and we eat the plant. Monsanto is the company that created Agent Orange. Monsanto also patents GE seeds because their DNA is special. At this point the story can get very complicated and long winded, please see the documentary, Food, Inc. for more details. In the documentary you will also hear about the contamination of conventional and even organic crops by the GMO biotech crops because pollen blows with the wind. This is part of the wheat contamination scandal that is currently in the news.
Also on the bad side, there are GE seeds that produce their own insecticide; these plants have their DNA spliced with a Bt toxin. Apparently corn is very susceptible to a root bug, hence the need to modify its DNA, and GE corn is in just about everything we eat; high fructose corn syrup, anyone? Additionally on the Bt toxin list of bad things is the potential connection to the demise of the honey bee due to this and other pesticide usage.
Be careful. You are what you eat. Next up, what and where are the GMOs and how do we know?
One of the big debates is the labeling of GMO foods. Whether it is packaged foods or fresh foods, we the consumer should know what the makeup of our food is, but there is big money running the food industry, and that money doesn’t want labels. There are even special prefixes for produce stickers, 8 is for GMO and 9 is for organic. I have never seen the 8 used, so I only buy organic zucchini in the grocery, because zucchini is a GE food.
You can visit the websites of Monsanto, DuPont, Dow and other companies to see what seeds they are selling. What exactly is the nature of their DNA modification is a mystery really, because they promote all of their seeds as “safe”, in fact they say they are more than safe, they are healthier and more nutritious than the seeds that God gave us!
Most of the large scale agricultural seeds are either Roundup ready or Bt toxin plants – these are alfalfa, canola, corn (for grain and silage), cotton, flax/linseed, forage, mustard, pearl millet, rice (Southern and California), sorghum, soybeans, sugarbeets, sunflower, and wheat.
You might say, I don’t have to worry about alfalfa because I never eat that. Actually you do. If cows eat GE alfalfa and you eat beef that once ate GE alfalfa, then you too are eating GE alfalfa. Even if you think, I only eat wild venison, I’m okay. Think again, I see deer all the time grazing in soybean fields and eating leftover harvested corn. The majority of crops are biotech these days, and many farmers advertise which GMO brand of seed they are using with signs right at the road.
But it is more than corn and soybeans that we have to worry about. Monsanto also has a whole line of vegetable seeds under the company name Seminis: beans (fresh market), beans (dry), broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, lettuce, melon, onion, pepper (hot), pepper (sweet), pickle, processing beans, pumpkin, spinach, summer squash (zucchini), sweet corn, processing tomatoes, tomatoes (fresh market), watermelon, and winter squash. DeRuiter also makes seeds for Monsanto: tomato rootstock (at the greenhouse for your garden), tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and cucumbers. Our summer time favorite, sweet corn, is GE too. So unless you are buying organic of these veggies, you are most likely eating a GE vegetable. And as I said earlier, we don’t know the exact modifications that have been made to this veggies.
And its not only veggies and grains that are GE. There are GE apples too. They haven’t been officially approved by the USDA yet, but test crops exist somewhere. The apples have been modified to not bruise or brown, but you know what? It’s the browning aspect of apples that is the healthy part, the healthy polyphenol oxidizes and turns brown when the apple is damaged or cut.
So by just eating organic fruits, veggies and grains you can avoid GMOs, right? Nope. At this point in time, GE salmon has not been approved for market, but AquaBounty is trying to get its fast growing salmon there. A GE pig has also been in the works for at least a decade.
I’m sure more biotech plants and animals are in the works, but this listing should give you a general idea of how big the scope of GMO is.
So what to eat?
First, don’t freak out. It’s pretty difficult to not eat GMOs today. They don’t seem to cause sudden death, but they do cause illness over time just because of their toxic nature. They are one of the many toxins that we ingest these days.
In general, do your best to eat clean by buying organic or at least limiting most of the known GE foods and if possible grow some of your own food. You’ll need to start with heirloom and organic seeds, because you just don’t know what’s what unless it specifically says organic and/or heirloom. See above for the known GE vegetables.
There are a few other steps to take to help flush the toxins of GMOs out of your system:
- Consume a good probiotic and fermented food – to keep a healthy gut flora
- Eat a fiber-rich diet – which will carry the toxins out in your waste
- Sweat – which also detoxifies – so move to get your pores dripping
- Drink plenty of purified water
- Cook at home once in awhile
- Learn more about traditional foods