Why you need to switch to non GMO!
In keeping with our most important goal of maintaining health and wellbeing through education, I would like share with you some frightening and alarming information about one of the food related issues we are facing today – the overwhelming prevalence of genetically modified foods (GMOs) that now dominate our marketplace.
This topic is extensive, serious and highly political… So hold on to your hats! This one isn’t going to be a “light read”.
First of all, what exactly is a GMO (Genetically engineered organism)?
These are crops (such as corn and soy) whose DNA has been altered in order that it can grow larger, faster, but most importantly be resistant to pests (insects) and pathogens (viruses/fungi etc). The DNA causes the cells to express a toxin that, when ingested by those pests, results in its death. What is important to know is that these toxins are also extremely harmful to human beings and well as animals/livestock who are fed GM feed. (GM corn feed is fed to cows so that they will grow faster and meatier. However, it causes deterioration of the gastric lining, which ultimately leads to “gastric leak” and death. In fact, farmers are having to slaughter their cattle before the feed itself kills them!)
What other harmful effects does eating GM foods have?
Ingestion of GM foods has been associated with interruption of healthy GI bacteria, high incidence of cancers, sterility, endocrine/hormonal disruption and organ damage. In addition, the herbicide “Roundup” (which is intended to kill weeds, but is now sprayed directly on GM crops as well due to their resistance of it) is also associated with neourological, respiratory, GI, and heamatological toxicities and birth defects).
Two large French studies done in rats (Conducted by Seralini and collegues, published in the Journal of food and chemical Toxicology) showed that rates who were fed Monsanto’s “Round up ready”, GM corn had extremely high rates of fatal cancers. 50% of male rates and 70% of female rats died in the study.
If these foods are so harmful, why aren’t they banned? Why does the FDA approve them? To answer this question fully, I must give you some history about the Company who deals in GM seed, “Monsanto Corp”, their ties with the FDA and US government, and the politics surrounding it. But first, let me tell you this: The Biotech industry claims that the FDA has thoroughly evaluated GM foods and found them safe – this is undeniably NOT TRUE! The truth is that the FDA does NOT require any safety studies done at all. It relies soley on the “say-so” of biotech companies, who cannot incriminate themselves at the expense of padding their pockets. In fact, no studies have been completed on the effects of GM foods on humans for a period of greater than 90 days. Animal studies, however, show alarming and devastating health effects, a few of which I have already mentioned.
In addition the government has completely deregulated the use and planting of GM crops, including the GM alfalfa and sugar beets which have hit the market in force. The FDA has also approved genetically engineered salmon, which is said to grow to full size in half the amount of time.
Getting back to Monsanto. This Chemical company founded in the early 1900’s, is the multi billion dollar Corporation who currently dominates the worlds GM seed market. They are also actively and aggressively trying to gain the worldwide monopoly by buying out as many seed companies as they can. Other tactics include sueing small organic farmers into bankruptcy who refuse to buy their seed. How do they accomplish this? They can because natural, cross pollination of plants by insects is unavoidable. When pro-Gm farmers pop up right next to their organic farms, contamination of their organic crop by cross pollination is inevitable. Monsanto then accuses them of growing (aka Stealing) their patented GM crop without having purchased it, and sues them into the ground. The irony is that these farmers refused to buy the seed in the first place since they believe in maintaining the integrity of true seed.
In addition, Monsanto designed his new GM crops to be herbicide resistant. In other words, instead of farmers having to spray isolated weeds that are invading their crop, they can air spray both the crop and weeds, but only the weeds die because the new crop is resistant to it. Is it not interesting that the number one producer of this herbicide, otherwise known as “Roundup” is, in fact, also Monsanto?
So, again….. Why doesn’t the FDA/USDA ban the use of GM crop. Well, it turns out that Monsanto and much of the US government are in ‘bed together’ on this issue. The biotech industry spent more than half a billion dollars on lobbying between 1999 and 2009. In fact GMO companies spent a whopping $71 million in 2009 alone pushing its agenda. Lets not overlook the fact that many key policy positions in the USDA are now being occupied by individuals with strong Monsanto “affiliations”. Hhmmmmmm..?
WOW! So what are these GM foods? The major culprits are:
A. CORN: 88% of the corn crop in the US is GM( per the USDA as of 2011). Not only corn itself, but corn oil products (mayonnaise, shortening) and hundreds of derivatives (High fructose corn syrup, modified corn starch, maltodextrin etc) make it into thousands of products in the grocery store. These include breakfast cereals, syrups, chips, tortillas etc.
B. SOY: 94 percent of the US soybean crop was genetically modified in 2011, according to the USDA. Soybeans show up in many traditional (i.e. not organic) soy products, such as tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, miso, and tempeh, as well as any products containing the emulsifier lecithin (often derived from soybean oil), such as ice cream and candy.
C. CANOLA/CANOLA OIL: 90% of US canola is GM.
D.COTTONSEED OIL: 90 percent of the US cotton crop was genetically modified in 2011, according to the USDA. The cotton plant, genetically modified to be pest-resistant, produces not only fibers for fabric, but also cottonseed oil. This oil is available on US shelves as a stand alone product, and is also commonly used as an ingredient in margarine, salad dressings, as a frying oil for potato chips and other snacks. It is also an ingredient in most commercial peanut butters to prevent oil separation.
* Side note: There is currently a huge uprising in India concerning the Bt Cotton plantations. Animals (and children) found to have been eating the twigs and leaves of these GM cotton plants have all turned up dead!
E. DAIRY/MEAT/EGGS. Unless otherwise designated as “certified organic”, all of the meat we eat and milk we drink comes from cattle who were given GM corn feed. Frequently they are also given hormones (rSBt) and antibiotics (which is another issue all together). The same is true for chicken/eggs and other meats such as pork.
G. ALFALFA: In 2005, the USDA deregulated GM alfalfa, though cultivation was later halted in 2007, following lawsuits from the Center for Food Safety and others who demanded a full evaluation of the threats to conventional alfalfa plants, and the emergence of herbicide-resistant weeds. Following a new environmental impact study, the USDA in 2011 again deregulated GM alfalfa, which is grown primarily as feed for dairy and sometimes beef cattle.
H. SUGARBEETS: 95% percent of the US sugar-beet crop was genetically modified in 2009, according to the USDA. Around half of the sugar produced in the US comes from sugar beets.
If a non-organic bag of sugar or a product containing conventional sugar as an ingredient does not specify “pure cane sugar,” the sugar is likely a combination of cane sugar and GM sugar beets. Watch out for most deserts in the freezer aisle, confectioners sugar etc.
I. ASPARTAME: Aspartame, an artificial sweetener, is derived from GM microorganisms. It is found in over 6,000 products, including diet sodas. Avoid anything labeled as containing Nutrasweet, Equal, or aspartame.
J.PRODUCE: 80% of US papaya as well as 15-20% of zucchini and yellow squash in the US is genetically modified – and the list is growing by the day.
** What most people don’t realize is that 80-90% of the items available at the local grocery store are made of or include GM ingredients.**
So, what CAN we eat? How do we avoid these foods?
a. Most importantly, avoid eating or buying fast food (the meats from which are reconstituted with up to as much as 80% soy protein), and processed foods which contain multiple offenders.
b. Buy Organic. Any food items whose label states “USDA Certified Organic” is, by law, not allowed to contain any GM ingredients. As far as meat goes, buy 100% grass fed!
Many brands now also carry the NON GMO project verified label. They may not necessarily be organic, but it guarantees that they have, at least, not been genetically modified. Not all produce is or needs to be sprayed with pesticides, so there is no absolute need for them to be organic. For others, the pesticides cannot easily penetrate the thick outer skins, so they too are not required to be organic.
TIPS for finding Non GMO foods: There are a multitude of resources available that help consumers find GMO free products and companies that subscribe to the “Non GMO Project”. Android and iPhone have several free apps to guide you.
• True Food shoppers guide (available for android, iphone and online)
• Non GMO Project shopping guide (iphone)
Lastly, let’s consider ecological issues/environmental concerns: (which I will keep rather brief for now).
The issue of GMOs is not limited to what we have already mentioned. The existence of GMOs is reaping havoc on our environment. These concerns include:
• Possible extinction of species who depend on the plants Roundup is killing Eg: The Monarch Catepillar/Butterfly
• The mysterious disappearance of and threat to Honey Bee colonies
• The production of superbugs and superweeds who are developing resistance to the herbicides and GM crops (much like the increasing antibiotic resistance we are seeing). This will result in the development of even more toxic alternatives.
I realize that if you are digesting this information for the first time, it may all seem very overwhelming and very surreal. I assure you that the information I have presented here is only the tip of the iceberg. I implore you to so as much research as possible. The deeper you delve, the more you will realize the enormity and reality of this issue. There are huge grassroots movements right now to educate and mobilize the general population, and to pass legislation that will protect people (not big, corrupt businesses like Monsanto). Mostly this involves regulating the GMO industry (worst case scenario), banning its use (best case scenario), and mandating GMO food labeling (which is finally on the agenda for the FDA thanks to the huge demand. Yay!)
As for little old me, who has little to no power to affect governments or change legislation…. My priority and goal is to put this information out there so you can make informed decisions about your health and act accordingly!