GMOs. A highly controversial topic today- especially in the political arena. What actually is a GMO? A genetically modified organism. The genetic material has been altered through genetic engineering techniques. Such organisms include bacteria, yeast, plants, animals, fish, and insects. These are the sources of genetically modified foods. According to the FDA, "genetic modification" involves mutating, inserting, or deleting of genes within an organism. So to get the gist: The DNA from other plants, viruses, animals and bacteria are injected into the cells of existing species. This is supposed to make them more resistant to the rain, drought, pests, etc. Up until this point, these viruses and bacteria have never been a part of the human food supply.
GMOs first started appearing in foods in the 1970s. Genetically modified foods are created by adding a protein from a different organism into a crop to make it heartier and more disease- and pest-resistant. The result is a new protein that can also be new to the human diet. The potential for allergic reactions in people is the main reason for opposition to creating genetically engineered foods.
The company that is responsible for producing most of the GMOs is Monsanto. They are a chemical company and now they are producing our food. Monsanto has been able to patent their GMO seeds, so they own the seed. They also have an exclusive deal with Scott's Miracle-Gro who sells Round-Up. So here is a company that owns and sells a seed that is resistant to a spray that they profit off of also. Monsanto makes money off the consumer on both ends. The fact that a company can own a seed and have that much control over our food supply is a scary thought. Monsanto currently owns about 90% of the seed supply out there. That means they control distribution, costs, etc. Scary.
The Allergy Vigilance Network is concerned about GMO foods causing anaphylactic reactions in people with food allergies, and the danger this represents to a growing portion of the population. Food allergies are on the rise, and one of the reasons is new allergens from the use of new technologies. There is a push to develop an allergy network that can investigate reactions to GMOs.
If you also look closely at who holds federal positions, you will notice that many of them have held positions with Monsanto as well. Coincidence? I think not.
According to The Organic Consumers Association "The huge jump in childhood food allergies in the US is in the news often, but most reports fail to consider a link to a recent radical change in America's diet. Beginning in 1996, bacteria, virus and other genes have been artificially inserted to the DNA of soy, corn, cottonseed and canola plants. These unlabeled genetically modified (GM) foods carry a risk of triggering life-threatening allergic reactions, and evidence collected over the past decade now suggests that they are contributing to higher allergy rates. Food safety tests are inadequate to protect public health. Scientists have long known that GM crops might cause allergies. But there are no tests to prove in advance that a GM crop is safe. That's because people aren't usually allergic to a food until they have eaten it several times. The only definitive test for allergies, according to former FDA microbiologist Louis Pribyl, "is human consumption by affected peoples, which can have ethical considerations. And it is the ethical considerations of feeding unlabeled, high-risk GM crops to unknowing consumers that has many people up in arms."
The UK is one of the few places that conducts a yearly evaluation of food allergies. In March 1999, researchers at the York Laboratory were alarmed to discover that reactions to soy increased by 50% over the previous year. Genetically modified soy had recently entered the UK from US imports and the soy used in the study was largely GM. John Graham, spokesman for the York laboratory, said, "We believe this raises serious new questions about the safety of GM foods."
Several other alarms that are going off due to GMOs that impact those with food allergies: (1)Increased herbicides on GM crops may cause reactions. (2) GM soy might impede digestion, leading to allergies. So, do you really want to buy a product containing a GMO? I DON'T!!!!!!!!!!!!!
According to the Just Label It Campaign:
- 59% of sugar produced in the US is made from sugar beets and 90% of the beets are genetically engineered
- Over 90% of canola oil is genetically engineered
- 90% of the cotton planted in the US is genetically modified
- 94% of all soybeans planted in the US are genetically modified
- 88% of US Corn is genetically modified
- If you want to avoid foods containing GMOs, your best options are to buy USDA certified organic. USDA organic standards prohibit the use of GMOs. Look for products that say Non-GMO, and to buy unprocessed foods like fruits and veggies because few whole foods are genetically engineered.
- Start your own urban garden using non-GMO seeds.
- Sign the petition at JustLabelIt.org to let the FDA know that you want GMO foods labeled as such.
Here's a recipe that is a great way to end your summer. And if you buy 100% certified USDA organic ingredients, it is free of GMOs. Enjoy!
2 c seedless watermelon (cubed)
4 c mixed greens
2 c baby spinach
1 c shredded carrots
1 c red seedless grapes
1/2 c sunflower seeds
drizzles with balsamic vinaigrette