Food, glorious food! Nothing can be more gastronomically pleasing than enjoying a wonderfully prepared entrée. Often, if you ask for the recipe to prepare the meal, you hear (especially at haute cuisine restaurants): “Sorry, it’s the chef’s secret.” Totally disappointed, one never knows the secret that makes it so delicious and special.
There are many secrets about food and its methods of preparation, but none as sinister, perhaps, as the secret the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to keep from you. That secret involves genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food crops. The food is altered at gene levels, but is not labeled as such on packaging and in advertisements for raw, prepared or packaged foods, as specified by FDA regulations.
The FDA website states: “Food labeling is required for most prepared foods, such as breads, cereals, canned and frozen foods, snacks, desserts, drinks, etc.” Therein resides not only a conundrum but also a total lack and disregard for transparency regarding Federal agencies’ prima facie reason for existence: protecting citizens.
GMOs are in most restaurant fare and in nearly all U.S.-produced packaged foods, i.e., chips, sauces, canned goods, frozen dinners, pastries, snacks and beverages. An estimated 80 percent of all food contains GMOs. Nevertheless, FDA labeling regulations pertain to:
- Food that is dehydrated, fresh, freeze-dried, frozen, organic and pasteurized.
- Nutrition content, which includes listing fat, calories, preservatives, additives, etc.
In an MSNBC poll regarding GMO food: 96.1 percent said GMO food should be labeled; a mere 3.1 percent, in essence, said if the FDA and government say it’s safe, then they believe that; and less than 1 percent (0.8 percent) said it didn’t matter to them. How do you feel about GMOs? Let’s examine what’s going on.
GMO Corporate Dominator
GMOs are dominated by one corporate entity: the Monsanto Company. Wikipedia has this to say about Monsanto:
The Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) is a U.S.-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed as “Roundup”. Monsanto is also the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed; it provides the technology in 90% of the world’s genetically engineered seeds. It is headquartered in Creve Coeur, Missouri.
Monsanto’s development and marketing of genetically engineered seed and bovine growth hormone, as well as its aggressive litigation, political lobbying practices, seed commercialization practices and “strong-arming” of the seed industry have made the company controversial around the world and a primary target of the alter-globalization movement and environmental activists. As a result of its business strategies and licensing agreements, Monsanto came under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department in 2009.
GMOs are biofoods produced from a technology called recombinant DNA technology that has two subsets:
Transgenic organisms are those that have DNA from different species inserted into them, e.g., a fish gene inserted into food crops. Transgenic plants are resistant to pests and herbicides; are able to resist harsh environmental conditions; and can improve product shelf life. Some can produce the Bt toxin [Bacillus thuringiensis] that is used as a pesticide. Amazing, aren’t they? But what do those organisms do inside of us?
Cisgenic organisms have NO DNA from other species inserted but are genetically modified in other ways. Our Chemical Lives And The Hijacking of Our DNA, p.171
Government Agencies’ GMO Regulation
The politics of regulating genetically modified foods at U.S. Federal agencies calls to mind the classic Bud Abbot and Lou Costello comedic skit, “Who’s On First.” After viewing that delightfully confusing six minutes of comedy, you may appreciate how oversight on GMOs is formulated. According to Genet Archive:
Biotech crops are regulated by several federal offices. The EPA has jurisdiction over plants engineered to produce pesticides, while the USDA is responsible for overseeing field trials of experimental crops. The Food and Drug Administration has authority over the safety of foods produced from biotech crops. Our Chemical Lives And The Hijacking of Our DNA, p. 175.
All that Humpty Dumpty-type regulatory oversight has broken the genetic integrity of food crops that have been produced by nature for thousands of years. That Frankenstein-type technology has dramatic and some yet-to-be-known consequences. Consider this: Monsanto has genetically modified several crops to be resistant to an herbicide that it produces, Roundup®. For the seeds for those crops, dubbed “Roundup Ready®,” farmers must pay a premium. Their use has landed many of them in lawsuits initiated by Monsanto. Click here to read my article about the economic hardships to farmers globally and, in particular, U.S. food exports, because of GMOs.
Because Roundup Ready® seed crops have been genetically programmed to withstand the pesticide Roundup®, farmers spray fields with many more times the amount of that pesticide to keep out weeds. Incidentally, the Roundup Ready® GMO crop resists the toxin and doesn’t die. Consequently, inordinate amounts of Roundup® spraying continue because farmers must use Roundup® per legal agreements they are obliged to sign.
Research Assays Confirm Roundup® Residues
The unfortunate aspect of GMO agriculture protocols is that toxic residue is being found in food crops — soy, per se — as documented by studies performed by researchers N. Benachour and G.E. Seraline at the University of Caen in France. Keep in mind that soy is ubiquitous in the food-processing industry as lecithin, extracts, isolates, vegetable oil, soy sauce, protein enhancements and baby formulas.
The Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering, Caen, France, published these findings on soy January 2009 in the article “Glyphosate formulations induce apoptosis and necrosis in human umbilical, embryonic, and placental cells”:
As a result of evaluating the toxicity of 4 glyphosate (G)-based herbicides in Roundup formulations from 10(5) times dilutions on 3 different cell types [those listed in the article title are associated with fetuses], there was total cell death within 24 hours. Cell death occurred through an inhibition of the mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase activity [at DNA level] and there was necrosis [death of cells] and apoptosis [usually referred to as cell “suicide” via cell disintegration].
This work clearly confirms that the adjuvants in Roundup formulations are not inert. Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death around residual levels to be expected, especially in food and feed derived from R formulation-treated crops. Our Chemical Lives And The Hijacking of Our DNA, p. 120.
Russian Rat Study
In a Russian rat study that Jeffrey Smith documents in the online article, “Most Offspring Died When Mother Rats Ate GM Soy,” incriminating information surfaces that you may want to know about.
European Union Consumers Effectiveness
The European Union consumer, unlike the American food shopper, knows and fears the dangers associated with GMOs. As a result of a European weeklong protest early on in the introduction of GMOs in foods, all GMOs must be labeled, so there is virtually no market for them in the EU.
As a result of consumer fears over health consequences, GMOs aren’t permitted to be imported either, which impacts USA farmers’ exports and USA-processed foods. Articles talking about liver and kidney damage from GMO crops, like the one here, educate consumers.
GMOs In Almost Everything
For food processing, many ingredients are soy-based, which means GMO soy is present in almost every foodstuff you buy. In the United States, 92 percent of soy is GMO. That’s only the beginning of the GMO fiasco.
Other ubiquitous products include those made from or with canola oil, corn and corn oil, cottonseed oil, and milk/dairy products.
As of March 2011, these foods either are being grown as GMO or are approved for GMO growing protocols: alfalfa for animal feed, canola/rapeseed, cotton, field corn, Hawaiian papaya, milk (genetically modified bovine growth hormone, rbGH), rice, salmon, sugar beets, sweet corn, tobacco (Quest® brand), vegetable oils (canola, corn, cottonseed, soy), yellow squash and zucchini. Additionally, there’s talk about GMO-redesigning two other fish: tilapia and trout.
What Can We Do?
Now that the scary genie has been left out of the technology bottle, what can be done? There are many organizations working to get the FDA to label GMO-containing products. The FDA knows if GMO is put on a label, consumers automatically will not purchase those foods, as the European Union marketplace demonstrated so vividly.
However, there are many organic-type food processors that have opted for “reverse labeling,” which means placing on product labels, “No GMOs” for which I congratulate them.
Health food stores, co-ops and some chain markets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe are reliable sources for selling non-GMO and organically grown foods along with GMO inclusions. Look for “reverse labeling” to be certain, or talk to store managers and tell them how you feel about GMOs in your shopping cart and on your dinner table.
There is a Millions Against Monsanto movement afoot with bumper stickers available from Organic Consumers Association in support of World Food Day, which was Oct. 16. I must admit that my car proudly wears that bumper sticker.
Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception, whom I greatly admire, is training folks to organize consumer groups to be knowledgeable about the dangers of GMO food. You just may want to join their non-GMO Tipping Point movement, so contact his Institute for Responsible Technology.
There is an inordinate amount of power that consumers have; it’s the “power of the purse,” which means the manner in which you spend your money to purchase food can make a difference whether GMOs will ruin not only the food chain but, also and ultimately, human and animal health as independent research indicates.