Are You Concerned About GMO's?


You may have heard people squirming over GMO's or genetically modified organisms in our food. If you know nothing at all about genetically modified foods, you've probably at least heard that the leading producer of genetically engineered seed and Roundup, Monsanto, has been under fire by the non-GMO activists for years now. It's very easy to not know what is going on with our food without actually being interested and proceeding to do your own research.


I first learned about GMO's in spring of 2013. Two of my girlfriends came to visit me, my husband, and my boys while we were still living in beautiful, sunny San Diego. We headed off for a day trip at Balboa Park and saw protestors with signs saying "Say No to GMO", "I am not a science experiment", "Monsanto Genocide"... We had absolutely no clue what they were protesting but we could see how passionate they were about it. We laughed it off, googled what GMO's were, made sure we knew the definition, hash-tagged it, then continued on with our lives. To this day, I still remind my girlfriends about the day I didn't know what GMO's were and how far I have come since...

GMO's are one of those things that if it doesn't interest you and it doesn't directly affect you then why even bother to learn about it, right? That's how I felt until I actually learned about how it directly affects each and every one of us. 

GMO’s are a rather new addition to our food, as the first time they were introduced to our food was in the mid 1990’s when the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved its first GM crop, the FlvrSvr Tomato. Since then, most of the United States’ food supply is full of GMO’s. Interestingly enough, many countries have banned GMO crop, such as Switzerland and Bulgaria, or have a widespread consumer opposition to GMO foods due to the awareness of potential harm.

So, what are GMO's?

Genetically modified organisms (GMO's) are basically biotechnology that allows DNA from one species to be inserted into another. That foreign DNA could be derived from a plant, animal, bacteria, virus, or even humans. So since I am not very keen on science I’m going to have to quote to explain the process of the insertion of DNA into a crop.

Jeffrey Smith, an American consumer activist, self-published author, and former politician explains, “You take a gene; let’s say you want to create a corn plant that produces its own pesticide. So you take the gene from a soil bacterium BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) and you make millions of copies of the gene and you put it into a gun and you shoot that gun into a plate of millions of cells, hoping that some of the genes make it into the DNA of some of those cells. Then you clone those cells into a plant.

Now the process of insertion plus cloning causes massive collateral damage in the DNA of the plant. Two to four percent is different; there can be hundreds or thousands of mutations. And there’s also a holistic effect. When you insert a single gene, up to five percent of the natural genes in the plant can change their levels of expression and then produce too much or too little protein.

So, what this does, when you change that much in the DNA, is that the RNAs can change, the proteins can change, and the byproducts of metabolism can change. So you could have increased levels of allergens, increased levels of toxins or carcinogens or completely new allergens and toxins and carcinogens that have never been in the plant before. Now these are not evaluated.”

On that note, there was a study in Canada that looked at pregnant women and non-pregnant women and found that 93% of pregnant women had BT toxin in their bloodstream. They found 80% of the pregnant women had BT toxin in their umbilical cord blood and they also found it in 69% of non-pregnant women’s blood. While BT toxin is a naturally occurring toxin, Jeffrey Smith explains that since the BT is actually in the crop, “it is thousands of times more concentrated than the natural spray. It’s designed to be more toxic, and it has properties of a known allergen. And it also cannot be washed off the plant, because it’s produced by little spray bottles in every cell of the plant, in every bite.” The scientists in this study believed the BT toxin came from consuming meats, dairy, and eggs from livestock that were given genetically modified feed.

As a mom, this concerns me. As a mom with two children with Autism and after my experiences, this concerns me even more. I truly believe that GMO foods are harmful to our bodies and may contribute to many ailments, allergies, and even Autism. In 2007, the CDC reported that food allergy rates rose significantly among pre-school aged and older children within a ten-year time span from 1997 to 2007.

Well what were we doing during that ten-year time frame? We were increasing our GMO crops! Since there are no long-term scientific studies of the effects of GMO’s on the human body, it is cause for concern to look at the potential harmful effects of genetically modified foods.

So What Does the Scientific Research Say About the Safety of GMO’s?

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition did a study called the Standard Study where their objective was to assess the differences in nutrient content between organic produce and conventional produce. The results showed that there is no evidence of a difference of nutrient quality between the two.

Hmm…. Well as many professionals have noted, there are a few things wrong with this study. Pamela Yee, a Holistic Medicine Practitioner and Organic Farmer, claims that they “narrowly defined the word nutritious as containing more vitamins”. In a lecture Lee explains, “I have a lot of problems with this study. Firstly, I’d like to understand their definition of nutritious, because the last time I looked, nutritious or nourishing meant containing substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition. The article does state that pesticide exposure is reduced with organic food consumption but doesn’t really elaborate on how that might impact health. So the question is, is consuming pesticide-laden food just as nutritious as not consuming them?” Well if babies are being pre-polluted by GM foods with BT toxin in their umbilical cord blood and ailments such as allergies and asthma are sky-rocketing and Autism rates are at an all-time high…. Should we not look at what we are putting into our food?

GMO or Non-GMO?
 
The choice is up to you. The topic remains controversial. There are many resources available to consumers to educate yourself on the harmful effects of GMO's and to decide for yourself whether or not GMO's are safe for your body and if you are willing to take that risk. In my opinion, genetically modified foods are not something I want to be fueling my body with or my children's and will continue to opt out when it comes to consuming GMO foods. I prefer to eat whole and more natural foods that I know will nourish my body the way they were meant to and stay clear of potential harms. There are also resources that allow consumers to find out what products are free of GMO's, toxins, and other additives. There are wonderful websites such as www.nongmoproject.org, www.ewg.org, and www.responsibletechnology.org that can help you learn more! 

Let me know what you think!! Are you concerned about genetically modified foods? What tips might you have for people just starting off and eliminating GMO foods from their diet? Share your comments below!!






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