It’s been about 20 years since genetically-modified (GM) organisms were introduced into the American food supply. GM crops, such as corn and soybeans, are plants whose DNA has been manipulated in a laboratory, through the introduction of foreign genes that originate mostly in bacteria and viruses. The FDA, under pressure from companies like Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta, claims there is no significant difference between conventionally-grown foods and GMOs and will not even allow appropriate labeling, thus taking away the public’s right to choose what it eats. On the other hand, GM crops can be patented and the companies fight hard to protect their patents.
Common GMO crops include corn, cotton, soybean, canola, potatoes, eggplant, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, cantaloupe, carrots, and papaya. 60-70% of processed foods have GM ingredients, so unless you have been absolutely religious about eating organically all the time for the past 15-20 years, you have already consumed a fair amount of GMOs. It’s in cereals, snack foods, baby foods, sodas, and countless other products. GM corn is the most prevalent animal feed in the U.S., so if you have eaten conventional meat of any kind, it contains GMOs as well.
Science points to these risks to GM food:
|*||Introduction of allergens and toxins to food, causing reproductive problems, increased infant mortality, and liver problems.|
|*||Accidental contamination between genetically modified and non-genetically modified foods.|
|*||Adverse changes in the nutrient content of a crop.|
|*||Creation of "super" weeds and other environmental risks because many crops are genetically modified to resist the herbicide Round-Up. Over the years, weeds have also evolved to become Round-Up resistant, and as a result, farmers use more herbicides than ever before.|
Industry studies claim these benefits:
|*||Increased pest and disease resistance|
|*||Increased food supply|
GM foods have been "forced down our throats" without adequate study to determine their long-term effects. We are literally the subjects of a grand experiment by the industrial food system. If GM foods cause diseases or if their effects appear only after long-term exposure, we will not identify the source for decades. But Pandora’s Box has already been opened, and we can no longer control where the wind blows GM pollen, or where GM fish (yes, they engineer farmed fish!) can escape to, or how GM forests (even trees!) will affect the environment.
The only way to be sure you are not eating GM food is to eat organic food. If buying it is cost-prohibitive, consider growing your own vegetables. Avoid ALL processed foods. And demand the labeling of these products by industry from all your representatives, local, state, and national. For more information, visit Institute for Responsible Technology and Organic Consumers Organization.