What are GMO’s? Tuesday night I was brushing my teeth before bed and my husband was in bed working on his laptop. Well, I thought he was working, what he was doing was looking at my facebook page. He loves my little comical cartoons. I didn’t post a comic on Tuesday, but an infographic about GMOs and how they are found in 80% of packaged food in the US. So I was in the bathroom brushing my bucky beavers and he asks me “what is a GMO”? I was flabbergasted, asking around my toothbrush “your joking right”? Nope he was serious. I was stunned, I couldn’t believe he didn’t know. He of course had heard of them from me and others, but he really didn’t know what they were or why it really mattered that I tried not to bring them into our house. He isn’t the first person that has asked me this, but having someone so close to me ask this made me realize I wanted to explain what I know about them and why I think they are bad for all of us. So here you have it….from a person who gardens organically and buys organically.
GMO stands for a genetically modified organism. Which means that the organism (usually a plant or animal) has been genetically changed using genetic engineering techniques. Splicing the DNA of the subject and adding and/or combining other DNA from other subjects. Mostly this is occurring in biotechnology companies that are engineering GMO crops to resist pests, herbicides and harsh growing conditions.
So why should you care if you are eating GMO’s?
There are several studies for and against GMO’s, basically the people that are saying they are safe are large institutions and government bodies here in the United States.
But smaller organizations, especially those in the organic and health food industry are strongly apposed to the use of GM’s in our food system.
Why? Because if you take a seed and slice its DNA so that it can resist having more pesticides sprayed on and around it to kill competing weeds and pests, there will be repercussions. Cause and Effect!
- One result is the substantial increase in the use of herbicides and the rise of approximately 15 herbicide-resistant weeds in the United States. Different or more chemicals are then needed to combat these weeds, leading to what’s called an “herbicide treadmill.”
- Second result; effects the insect, and mammal population. If a honeybee visits the flowers of the weed that has just been sprayed with pesticides it covers itself with the pesticide when it collects its pollen. This can have multiple affects, if the bee gets trapped in a spider web on its way back to the hive and then is eaten by the spider, which is then eaten by the bird. You can finish the story of the spider and the fly. If the bee makes it back to its hive it will wipe the pollen and pesticide off its body storing it in the comb for the larvae to eat, eventually killing the bee and the larvae. Hence one reason of the decline of the bee population. Hundreds of crops depend on the honeybee to pollinate in order to produce fruit and vegetables.
- Thirdly; let’s go back to the seed that has been modified, it is no longer a kernel of corn that has been on this earth longer than we can calculate, it is something different and foreign. You are now putting a food into your body that no longer has the DNA of corn but of something foreign, even though it looks and tastes like corn, your body only recognizes DNA and will see it as a foreign substance. The genetic material (DNA) of your cells can then become damaged or changed from this foreign substance, producing mutations that affect normal cell growth and division in our body. When this happens, cells do not die when they should and new cells form when the body does not need them. The extra cells may form a mass of tissue called a tumor. I know it is hard to believe that a piece of corn that looks and taste the same can cause you damage. Again let’s use the honeybee as an example. When you are stung by the honeybee the bee’s venom does not cause your body to swell and itch, your body does that by sending histamines to the sting site thinking that it needs to fight the venom.
So am I an alarmist? Maybe, but I don’t think so in this case.
More than 40 countries including all of Europe and Japan and India have requirements governing the labeling of genetically modified food. Europe has banned many genetically engineered crops.
The United States has NO labeling laws. I hate to be pessimistic here, but I believe that is because of money. Three of the top six Genetic Engineering Companies are based here in the US. The largest company being Monsanto, which has the largest market share of GMO crops in the world. It is also the third largest producer of pesticides in the world and the number one producer of seeds.
Why not label, we have labels on everything. We now can walk into a fast food restaurant to see labels on how many calories are in our Happy Meal, why can’t we have a label on our grocery items letting us know if the squash we are buying was grown as GM crop? Then the consumer can decide if they want to buy a product that has been genetically modified. It comes back to cause and effect.
The list of GM foods is extensive and I believe it the labeling laws come into effect companies will choose to not use GM’s any longer knowing that customers will choose to not buy their product. Coming back to money and why the labeling law keeps getting shut down. One of the most compelling arguments driving labeling laws is that we just don’t know what GMOs are capable of. They’re a relatively recent development in agriculture, and we’ve yet to see their long-term effects. However, animal testing has linked GMOs with cancer, miscarriage, organ damage, and other health problems.
So now I have explained what GMO’s are, its up to you to decide if it matters to you or not. I do believe that nature is the best deciding factor on what we put into our bodies, since we come from nature. It seems like putting food in our body that didn’t come from nature is like trying to fit a circle and a square and if you force it there will be a cause and effect.
If you would like to see a comprehensive list of GMO products the most up to date one I could find was on Shift Frequency.