GMO’s: What Are They And How Can They Affect Our Health

There is a great divide in the conversation regarding GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). On the one side there is the claim that GMO foods and seeds are the miracle answer for delivering food to the world, especially in third world countries. On the other side there are the natural health specialists that question not only the efficacy but the unnatural method used to create these products. [Click here to read the good and the bad of GMO’s]

While there are scientists on both sides, vehemently validating their positions, there also exists a suspicious trail that leads to the questions for the development, testing and long term effects of GMO’s.

GMO’s, in their simplest terms, is the fusing of the DNA from multiple species to develop a desired crop result. The purpose was to create plant and food species that were resistant to many of the diseases and bug infestations so that a more resilient final product would offer an improved growth method for people around the world. When you read the words, it sounds like a boon for mankind, however, read the words ‘multiple species’ and you begin to understand the major concerns and why GMO’s have been referred to as ‘Frankenfoods’.

Proponents of GMO’s will stand firm in their argument that mankind has been manipulating plant and species development throughout the history of agriculture. While this is true, it must be recognised that the manipulation always included situations that could happen in nature. There has been a long history of animal domestication and even the slow process of realigning plant species to create a final outcome product that was larger and more nutritious. Each level of development was maintained within either the animal or plant species. This is important to note because hybrids do exist in the natural world.

To understand the critical situation of the GMO’s one needs to examine the more in-depth reasoning behind the development as well as who is involved and what scientific evidence has been used for validation. Disturbingly enough, the ‘top 6’ companies that have created GMO’s are also those that are responsible for the chemical pesticides used throughout the agricultural world: BASF, Bayer, Dupont, Dow Chemical Company, Monsanto, and Syngenta.  Some of these are the same companies that have developed the most toxic poisons such as Agent Orange (used during the Vietnam War) and the herbicide ‘RoundUp’, which has been labeled by the World Health Organisation as a potential carcinogen. This information adds an additional layer to the conversation, so that it transcends the ‘veiled’ idea that there is any effort being placed for the improvement of humanity, and instead results in the same old story of profit, under any circumstances.

To examine GMO’s, you have to return to the scientific research that was finalised during the development stages.  The studies were not done by independent research laboratories and instead funded and supported by the biotech companies that were producing the GMO products. That, in itself, should have been an alert due to their monetary investment. However, it didn’t take long for some of their own scientists, who previously supported GMO’s, to dig deeper into the research to discover that all was not as it should be. A former GMO biotechnologist, Dr. Thierry Vrain, began reading the GMO reports that were coming in from European countries that were using GMO crops. He based his own research on over 500 scientific and government reports and articles that were published in peer-reviewed journals, many of which are considered to be recognised as the most respected in the world. He questioned the studies that were backed by the biotech companies and has stated,

“The Bt corn and soya plants that are now everywhere in our environment are registered as insecticides. But are these insecticidal plants regulated and have their proteins been tested for safety? Not by the federal departments in charge of food safety, not in Canada and not in the U.S.

 There are no long-term feeding studies performed in these countries to demonstrate the claims that engineered corn and soya are safe. All we have are scientific studies out of Europe and Russia, showing that rats fed engineered food die prematurely. These studies show that proteins produced by engineered plants are different than what they should be. Inserting a gene in a genome using this technology can and does result in damaged proteins. The scientific literature is full of studies showing that engineered corn and soya contain toxic or allergenic proteins.”
Scientists themselves understand the basis for genetic manipulation. The base information indicates that when you insert genes from various species there is a great possibility for what they refer to as ‘rogue proteins’. Some of the protein variants are toxic or allergic, and an example of this is the ‘Cry protein’ (aka Bt toxin = Bacillus thuringiensis) that is now found in GMO corn and is considered by the biotech companies as a ‘safe food’. Additional studies that were outside of the biotech companies have found this same protein to be toxic for mammalian blood, deadly for mice (part of the food chain) and linked to a higher incidence of leukemia. A study done at the Sherbooke University Hospital in Quebec, Canada resulted in the findings that showed Bt-toxin from corn in the blood of both pregnant and non-pregnant women and were associated with increased levels of body inflammation, MS, allergies and cancer.

So with this kind of hidden and secretive information regarding GMO’s one wonders how the process could be supported by government agencies.  For that you need to open the books on the methodologies involved in lobbying, financial support for politicians and the avenues recognised (as well as ignored) for the supply of scientific research for approval and validation. In essence, follow the money and you will see that the skewed scientific results were accepted as valid, with a theory that any positive results would outweigh the overall potential negative.

Given that the U.S. has the ability to offer third world countries and those that are suffering from starvation and hunger the option of having food production using GMO’s, many of the countries have been left without any choice in the situation. The fact that they are being forced to accept GMO’s has now been elevated around the world and other countries are coming to the defense and rejecting GMO’s in their entirety. It has taken some time for the secretive information to leak out as well as the longer-term studies to be revealed, but as of this writing, 38 countries have officially rejected GMO’s, and the number is growing.

Questioning the long-term effect of GMO’s on humans is a slippery slope. To date, there have only been studies done on animals over a forty year period and no studies on the GMO effects on humans. The final outcome of the GMO condition has created a situation for the biotech companies themselves. While the U.S. may continue to allow and support GMO’s, the biotech companies are experiencing a downslide in both financial stock status as well as some are being required to downsize their employee size due to reduced profits.

For a great read on Why You Should Avoid GMOs – Click Here

A few tips to help you avoid GMO foods

  • Go through your pantry and read the ingredients on all your packaged and tinned food carefully. Identify products that are not transparent and choose to not buy them again.
  • Commit to eating more fresh foods and fewer processed foods – as most GMOs are found in packaged and processed foods.
  • Buy organic where possible, as GMOs are banned under the organic label
  • Make your own biscuits, cakes, dips, sauces etc with ingredients you trust
  • Question your meat producers – unless labelled organic, animals may have been raised on feed with GMOs
  • Avoid canola or “vegetable oil” unless marked “GMO-free”
  • Avoid corn products unless marked “GMO free”. This includes glucose, glucose syrup, fructose, maltodextrin and thickener/modified starches (1410, 1412).
  • Buy organic soy products. Also avoid any products with soy lecithin (additive/emulsifier 322), soy oil, soy protein and vegetable protein.

Resources

http://reason.com/archives/2015/05/02/the-gmo-debate-heats-up-again
http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/selection/corn/
http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/
http://www.thestreet.com/story/12530112/1/5-companies-against-genetically-modified-foods.html
http://www.gmoseralini.org/fda/
http://www.thenation.com/blog/176863/twenty-six-countries-ban-gmos-why-wont-us
http://www.thrivemovement.com/solutions-wcid-article?article_id=465
http://naturalsociety.com/former-biotech-scientist-admits-gmos-not-safe/
http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/02/23/us-agencies-monsanto-gates-foundation-work-together-force-gmos-africa/
http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/10/monsanto-stock-decline-layoffs