When I first hear about Genetically Modified (GM) foods, it was concerning corn being modified to be more resistant to weeds, then I heard about other crops engineered to be more resistant to weed killers (specially Round-Up made by Monsanto). I didn’t think too much of the whole GM thing, until I heard about the up-roar in Europe about American GM foods being exported there.
Why were Europeans so upset about American GM foods?
I started to do more research and found out the issue was not really as simple or as safe as I thought. Scientists have known that GM crops might cause allergies. But there are no tests available right now to prove that GM crops are safe or unsafe, because people are not usually allergic to a food until it is eaten several times, sometimes years.
The introduction of genetically engineered foods into our diet was done quietly and without the mandatory labeling that is required in most of the other industrialized countries. There has been a huge jump in childhood food allergies in the US in recent years. Most of these reports fail to mention that in the last decade there has been a change in the U.S. diet. Since 1996 bacteria, viruses and other genes (sometimes insect DNA) has been artificially inserted into the DNA of corn, cottonseed, soy and canola plants, yellow squash, potatoes and Hawaiian papaya. These unlabeled genetically modified foods carry an increased risks of triggering life threatening allergic reactions in sensitive people. Some of these products are sold directly to consumers for consumption, others are sold for feed for livestock. So we are also eating the beef, pork or poultry that has been consuming the GM grains.
“Genetic engineering is accomplished by invading a cell with foreign DNA. The altered cell is then cloned into a plant. These processes create massive collateral damage, causing mutations throughout the plant`s DNA. Genetic engineering also transfers genes across natural species barriers, causing unnatural and as yet unknown alterations in the expression of genetic material. The inserted gene is often rearranged, and the GM protein produced by the gene may have unintended properties or effects. This altered DNA material may be transferred from the food into our body`s cells or into the DNA of bacteria inside us.”
The UK is one of the few countries that conducts yearly evaluations of food allergies. In March 1999, researchers were alarmed to discover that reactions to soy had skyrocketed by 50% over the previous years. Genetically modified soy had recently entered the UK from US imports.
“Critics of GM foods often say that the US population is being used as guinea pigs in an experiment. But experiments have the benefit of controls and measurement. In this case, there is neither. GM food safety experts point out that even if a someone tried to collect data about allergic reactions to GM foods, they would not likely be successful. “The potential allergen is rarely identified. The number of allergy-related medical visits is not tabulated. Even repeated visits due to well-known allergens are not counted as part of any established surveillance system.”Indeed, after the Canadian government announced in 2002 that they would “keep a careful eye on the health of Canadians” to see if GM foods had any adverse reactions, they abandoned their plans within a year, saying that such a study was too difficult.”
What are US consumer to do, since the FDA doesn’t seem to be interested in protecting us from these questionable GM foods?
Tips to Avoid GM Food:
1. Buy Organic
2. Look for “NON-GMO” labels.
3. Avoid at risk ingredients: Corn, soybeans, canola and cottonseed used in processed foods.
4. Beware of invisible GM ingredients
5. Use this handy Non-GMO Shopping Guide from the Institute for Responsible Technology in Partnership with the Center for Food Safety.
6. Try this iPod App called GMO?:
Quoted information as marked, from the institute of Responsible Technology in Partnership with the Center for Food Safety.