By Tim Collins
Recently, the Senate voted down an amendment that would allow states to require labeling of any foods containing GMOs. The law wasn’t too different from ones enacted in many states banning excessive amounts of trans fats. To some, the proposed amendment is no different than ingredient labels that state when artificial flavors are used.
What exactly is a GMO? Here is the definition:
Genetically modified foods (GM foods, or biotech foods) are foods derived from genetically modified organisms. Genetically modified organisms have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques. These techniques are much more precise than mutagenesis (mutation breeding) where an organism is exposed to radiation or chemicals to create a non-specific but stable change. Other techniques by which humans modify food organisms include selective breeding; plant breeding, and animal breeding, and somaclonal variation. (Wikipedia)
In the early days of mass GMO crop planting, a new strain of corn produced catastrophic results. The organisms introduced to the otherwise ordinary corn rendered the soil useless possibly for over a hundred years. It was this early experiment that raised the alarm of environmental activists. They began late night raids to the laboratory farms and destroyed crops on a routine basis.
The United States is only one of a few countries that has no established laws to regulate GMOs in the food supply. The United States currently relies on the FDA, EPA, and the USDA when it comes to regulating all genetically modified foods. The fact is that these agencies are easily corrupted by special interest groups and are prone to allowing things to simply pass. Remember, the FDA has rushed approval of many prescription drugs that have been recalled by the FDA within a few years of their release.
The Origins of GMOs
The whole reason behind GMOs was originally pure, to feed food starved nations and make them more self reliant. Early strains of crops were designed to be drought resistant, they were created to help starving countries in Africa.
Scientists first discovered that DNA can transfer between organisms in 1946. It is now known that there are several mechanisms for DNA transfer (horizontal gene transfer) and that these occur in nature on a large scale – for example, it is a major mechanism for antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria. The first genetically modified plant was produced in 1983, using an antibiotic-resistant tobacco plant. In 1994, the tomato was genetically modified for human consumption. This genetic modification allowed the tomato to delay ripening after picking. In 1995, the biotech company Monsanto introduced herbicide-immune soybeans known as Roundup Ready. Also in 1995, the Bt Potato was approved safe by the Environmental Protection Agency, making it the first pesticide-producing crop to be approved in the USA. In 1996, the first genetically modified canola was available on the market. In the year 2000, scientist discovered that they were able to genetically modify foods to increase their nutrient value. In the year 2005, alfafa began being marketed in the USA. As of 2011, the U.S. leads a list of multiple countries in the production of GM crops.
The first commercially grown genetically modified whole food crop was a tomato (called FlavrSavr), which was modified to ripen without softening, by Calgene, later a subsidiary of Monsanto. Calgene took the initiative to obtain FDA approval for its release in 1994 without any special labeling, although legally no such approval was required. It was welcomed by consumers who purchased them at a substantial premium over the price of regular tomatoes. However, production problems and competition from a conventionally bred, longer shelf-life variety prevented the product from becoming profitable. A tomato produced using similar technology to the Flavr Savr was used by Zeneca to produce tomato paste which was sold in Europe during the summer of 1996.The labeling and pricing were designed as a marketing experiment, which proved, at the time, that European consumers would accept genetically engineered foods. Currently, there are a number of food species in which a genetically modified version exists.
The Dangers of GMOs
Since GMOs are a fairly new creation, there is little information on possible risks to health and what long term consumption might do to the human body. The most shocking aspect of GMOs is the fact that they have found their way into animals.
The EnviroPig is a hybrid Yorkshire pig. It is able to digest plant phosphorous more efficiently than a normal Yorkshire pig. The concept is that farmers will save money by not having to buy special feed for the pigs. The spin is that these pigs will reduce the risk of water polllution.
Cows with human genes were first created in 2011, Chinese scientists have been breeding cows genetically engineered with genes for human beings to produce milk that would be the same as human breast milk.This would possible be beneficial for the mothers who cannot produce breast milk but want their children to receive the benefits from breast milk rather than formula. Again, the spin is that his is beneficial, even though there is no evidence that it is completely safe.
Goats that produce silk in their milk. A company called Biosteel has genetically engineered goats to produce milk with strong spider web like silk proteins in their milk. This product is not used for consumption, but to make bulletproof vest and anti-ballistic missile systems for military contracts instead. The potential risk here is possible unintentional cross breeding with conventional goats.
In 2006 Taiwan scientist used genetic material from a jelly fish and implanted it into pigs embryos. The result was that depicted to the right, pigs that glow bright green in the dark. The pigs whole body including its internal organs glow green. In the daylight, these pigs have a slight tinge of green on their skin, snout and teeth. Little is known of the possible effects when ingested by humans.
One of the most commonly known species of a genetically modified animal is actually an insect. The Africanized Bee, killer bee, was created by breeding European honey bees with African bees. African bees are known for their honey production, but also their aggressive nature. The concept behind the Africanized bee was to take advantage of the African bee’s honey production and utilize the European bee’s less aggressive nature. The killer bee has been migrating around much of southern America and continuing to move north.
The dangers of GMOs are hard to predict, they run from robbing soil of nutrients and minerals needed to grow plants to plants that mutate to resist all known herbicides. The danger with the latter is the possible mutation of weeds and invasive plants that could pick up some GMO crop attributes during pollination.
Another danger is the risk to bees. Monsanto recently came under fire after chemicals found in some insecticides and herbicides were linked to the death of bees. Some research is underway to see if GMO crops could also factor into bee deaths. There is little doubt that this research will be suppressed.
The FDA, one of the government agencies tasked with keeping an eye on GMOs as well as pharmaceuticals, has long held out on approving herbal and natural supplements. The varieties found at most health food and drug stores, are carefully formulated and have little, if any side effects. Some have theorized that the FDA has caved to pressure from Big Pharma to not approve any herbal supplements. These natural supplements have been found to help people quit smoking, thin blood, help the heart, treat depression, combat sleeplessness, and many other ailments.
There are people who believe that the cure for cancer can be found in the rain forest and that it is a natural plant or herb. Aspirin began it’s life as a natural remedy. Plant extracts, including willow bark and spiraea, of which salicylic acid was the active ingredient, had been known to help alleviate headaches, pains, and fevers since antiquity. The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, who lived sometime between 460 BC and 377 BC, left historical records describing the use of powder made from the bark and leaves of the willow tree to help these symptoms.
It has been said that Samuel Bayer became aware of the health benefits during time spent around Native Americans. Salicylic acid was later synthesized in labs to make it easier to produce the new drug.
Big Pharma has done their best to block research on the health benefits of natural, organic foods and herbal supplements. The FDA simply ignores all research on herbal supplements while green lighting new and dangerous drugs for human consumption. The PR campaign for GMO foods has hit a fever pitch as more Americans are seeking out information on GMOs.
The fact is, the research isn’t there to support any claims of safety by the companies investing in GMOs. Common sense is expected to be ignored regarding the lack of real data concerning GMO safety. Big corporations have invested major money in producing GMOS and are throwing their dollars at the agencies meant to regulate genetically modified foods.
- Senate rejects allowing states the right to mandate GMO labeling on your foods (theaveragejoenewsblogg.com)
- Monsanto forces the global sale and use of genetically-modified foods. (veganmyway.tumblr.com)
- Company Charged for Covering Up Animal Deaths from GMO Corn (naturalremediesblog.net)
- Genetically Modified Food May Cause Long-Term Sterility (inhabitots.com)
- Top 10 Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods to avoid (refreshingnews99.blogspot.com)
- Monsanto Allowed to Put Genetically Modified Food on Your Plate (blogs.lawyers.com)
- New Study Shows That Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Corn Is Dangerous (tampa.cbslocal.com)