Everyone is talking about genetically modified foods, GMOs, these days and wondering if they are safe. Here is a break down of what is going on in the food industry, and how it affects what we eat.
Humans have been manipulating our food for centuries. We cross-breed plants and animals to give us a better stock that suits our needs. This could be for longevity, durability, and taste. Some argue that what the industry is doing now, is similar to what we have been doing all along.
The difference between hybridization (cross-breeding) and genetically engineered GE/GMO/GM is cross breeding expands genetic code within or between related species through practices like sexual, asexual, and grafting. GMOs come from the introduction of a gene from one unrelated species into another.
An example of a GMO is your snack of strawberries being injected with a gene from a flounder fish. The purpose for this particular cross is to keep the strawberry from freezing. The list of GMOs ranges from salmons injected with growth hormones to get bigger, rice with human genes for pharmaceuticals, to dairy cows with rBGH (rBST) to increase milk production… which increase nipple infections from excessive use… that leads to an increase in antibiotic intact… which increases antibiotic resistance.
“Follow the money”, my grandfather always said. Agricultural industry is no longer the “mom and pop” you remember, most of it is big corporate business, and their goal is profit. So producing strawberries that won’t freeze gives the industry an edge over other companies that rely on seasonal shifts and conventional practices. Bigger salmon means more product to sell. Cows producing more milk, well you get the picture.
What has everyone around the World upset?
- The process of getting a gene from one species into another is accomplished by using viruses, bacteria, insects, and animals.
- The association between professional conflict of interest and study outcome on safety of GMOs.
- No labeling of GMOs, with the exception of Vermont and other countries, in our food inhibits consumers ability to make decisions about what they eat.
- Contamination of wild and organic crops
- The overuse of pesticides in farming of GMO crops resistant to pesticides. “The #1 company developing GMO plants and controlling the largest market share of GMO crops in the world is the same company selling the weedkiller called RoundUp: Monsanto.“
The goals advertised by big agriculture industry may be to feed the world and increase nutrition, but research shows that the world hunger is linked to poverty and nutrition has not increased by the introduction of GMOs. The reality is that genetically modified foods give producers an edge in the market with bigger and faster products produced. This doesn’t translate into better, and if you have grown your own produce, you know what’s lost, taste.
What Foods Contain GMOs?
The 2014 report from USDA shows the following percent of crops grown in the U.S. that are genetically modified. The range is due to the variations by state:
• Soybeans – 91 -99%
• Corn – 91-97% *
• Cotton – 77-99% *
*A percentage of corn, cotton, (4-27% varies by state) produces its own insecticide as it grows. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency regulates corn as an insecticide.