Let's Talk About...
GMO Foods and the harm to our health and the environment
Genetically modified organisms are genetic materials that have been artificially altered by means of bio-tech engineering. In the U.S., the majority of all soybeans, cotton and corn planted yearly are
genetically engineered to be herbicide-tolerant and/or stacked with one or more genes to kill insects.
Besides the seeds being engineered with pesticides, crops receive numerous applications of Roundup (glyphosate) each and every year, until the soil is so depleted of nutrients, the entire process must be started again.
Glyphosate resistance is on the rise, and has produced super-hardy weeds that are nearly impossible to get rid of. It's estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant. In an effort to keep on top of the growing weed problem, farmers are applying ever-increasing amounts of toxic herbicides to their crops. Overall, GMO technology drove up herbicide use by 527 million pounds, or about 11 percent, between 1996 (when Roundup Ready crops first hit farm fields) and 2011.
Who really thinks this is safe?
No one does, and that's the point. The makers of GMOs such as Monsanto and Dupont will discuss the engineering in periodical business pages but not in the food or health sections. Why? Because even they are aware that it's not healthy, or right. It's just business.
When rats eat GM corn, they develop horrifying tumors. Seventy percent of females die prematurely, and virtually all of them suffer severe organ damage from consuming GMO.
Humans didn't evolve on chemicals, poisons, and denuded processed foods. Our bodies don't possess the metabolic features to process these artificial chemicals. Bad health practices and poor unsustainable nutrition are irrefutably harmful to us and to the planet.
In the recent, controversial Stanford University study researchers said pesticide levels in conventional foods were 30 percent higher in chemical load than organics. That's reason enough to eat organically.
Among the health issues that are related to the rise of GMOs in the food supply are food allergies, skin disorders, autism, gastro-intestinal disorders, birth defects, leaky guts, premature aging, cancer, inflammation and heart disease. Farmers have seen their livestock sickened by use of GMO feed. When they switched feeds to non GMOs a host of disease and behavioral issues disappeared. The book and documentary Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith, offers up a host of experts who discuss these issues. Smith is also the author of Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating.
We need to use our own common sense about nutrition. If we investigated what we ate as much as what car to buy we'd all be better off. The FDA, a government agency, isn't a nanny state department that watches what we put into our mouths. But the FDA has also not done enough to protect the consumer. Food companies are required to ensure safety themselves, but research is not done by independent researchers but in-house, and therefore, decidedly nonobjective.
California's Proposition 37 will hopefully lead the way to labeling GMO contained foods. The outcome could reverberate through U.S. agriculture, which has long tinkered with the genes of plants to reduce disease, battle insects and boost the food supply. In California, food and chemical conglomerates, including Monsanto and DuPont, have contributed more than $35 million to defeat Proposition 37 on the November ballot. Here is a link to the campaign for Yes on Prop 37: Right To Know.
Our own policies are to blame in part. The tax payer subsidization of industrial foods and non-labled GMOs have contributed to the health and obesity epidemic in the U.S.
For instance, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America's Healthreport report said that in the last 15 years, adult obesity rates have doubled or nearly doubled in 17 states. Two decades ago, not a single state had an obesity rate above 15 percent. Now all states do.
As a result, insurance rates go up, emergency rooms are crowded, and doctors are over burdened with folks who--it seems--simply don't understand what's made them sick.
The Healthreport emphasized the need for a range of measures, including "broadening access to affordable healthy foods and using 'pricing strategies' to encourage Americans to make better food choices."
I have a vitalist view, meaning I believe we're the sum of the whole, not just a working cog in the wheel. Alternately, the reductionist believes that man can dominate by using his "superior will" owithout answering for it, much as a toddler might. This is the kind of blind dogmatic arrogance that can destroy this planet.
Food writer Michael Pollan has said that cheap food is an "illusion." If it's not paid for at the cash register, then it's "charged to the environment or to the public purse in the form of subsidies. And it's charged to your health."
Subsidies from the U.S. government helped bring about the flood of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) fast food, animal factories, monoculture, and a host of other contributors to our unhealthful contemporary diet. So between the unhealthful GMOs being pushed on the American public by large corporations that control the food industry, and unhealthy farming practices, our food supply is highly tainted.
We must be our own best advocates in health as in all else.
We have choices. Use them wisely.