Genetically Modified Foods – Are They Safe?

Genetically modified foods - are they safe?

Currently in the US, it is estimated that 70% of processed foods on our grocery store shelves contain genetically modified ingredients. The FDA reports that there are no differences between GMO and non-GMO foods; their policy states that “the agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way”. Later, FDA documents were made public during a law suit that showed that statement was untrue. The FDAs own scientists repeatedly requested that the FDA complete long-term studies, due to concerns of increased allergens, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems.  Michael Taylor, the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods, repeatedly overruled the scientist’s recommendations. It should be noted that prior to working for the FDA, Taylor was a Monsanto attorney and later a Monsanto vice-president. Currently, if a biotech food company “believes” that their genetically modified “creations” are safe, they can put the food in our food supply without reporting it to the FDA. Many biotech food companies don’t feel they should have to be responsible for ensuring that their foods are safe. In a New York Times Interview, Monsanto’s Director of Corporate Communications stated that “Monsanto should not have to vouch the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) strongly urges consumers to avoid genetically modified foods. Studies link GMOs with toxins, allergies, infertility, infant mortality, immune dysfunction, stunted growth, accelerated aging, and death. The Institute for Responsible Technology has listed many of these studies on their website, here are just a few of the findings of that they list:

  • Thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in India died after grazing on Bt cotton plants
  • Mice eating GM corn for the long term had fewer, and smaller, babies
  • More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, and were smaller
  • Testicle cells of mice and rats on a GM soy change significantly
  • By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies
  • Rodents fed GM corn and soy showed immune system responses and signs of toxicity
  • Cooked GM soy contains as much as 7-times the amount of a known soy allergen
  • Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced
  • The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may lead to cancer.
  • Studies showed organ lesions, altered liver and pancreas cells, changed enzyme levels, etc.

Why do We Have Genetically Modified Foods in the US?

Why do we have GMOs in the United States, when some countries like Europe are virtually GMO-free? It’s all about the “tipping point”. A tipping point is “the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development”. Europe hit the tipping point in April 1999, enough consumers stopped buying GMO foods to hurt the industry. Within one week of hitting this tipping point, all major food producers committed to ending the use of genetically modified ingredients in their products. These same companies are still using genetically modified ingredients in their US products. According to author and GMO expert Jeffrey M. Smith, if 5% of the US population refused to purchase genetically modified foods, major food manufacturers would no longer use genetically modified ingredients. Smith reports that there are several reasons that we have not hit the tipping point in the United States:

  • the American population has not been educated on genetically modified foods
  • American consumers don’t know which products contain genetically modified ingredients, due to lack of labeling

According to a poll completed by CBS and the New York Times, if genetically modified foods were labeled today, 53% of Americans would not purchase the labeled products. Smith predicts that even if 9 out of 10 of these Americans did not follow through with refusing to purchase these products, it would still be enough to reach our tipping point in the United States.

Without food labeling, it’s overwhelming to even begin removing all genetically modified foods from our diets. According to Smith, there are four tips to protect ourselves from genetically modified foods:

  • Buy organic foods
  • Avoid at-risk ingredients such as soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar derived from sugar beets, zucchini, crooked-neck squash, and Hawaiian papaya
  • Buy products that are labeled as being non-GMO
  • Buy products that are listed in a non-GMO shopping guide

The Institute for Responsible Technology is an excellent resource for obtaining reliable information about avoiding genetically modified foods. Founded in 2003 by Jeffrey M Smith, the goal of the organization is to stop the genetic engineering of our food supply. Responsible Technology has created an iPhone app to help consumers protect themselves from GMOs. The organization has also created a GMO Education program that provides a wealth of information about genetically modified foods such as:

  • The health risks associated with genetically modified foods
  • A shopping guide
  • The environmental dangers imposed by genetically modified foods
  • A physician’s guide
  • Tips on determining whether a product is genetically modified based on package labeling

Sources:

Smith, Jeffrey M. (2003, September). Seeds of Deception:  Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating

GMO Health Dangers. (n.d.). Institute for Responsible Technology. Retrieved from the homepage of //responsibletechnology.org/.

GMO Education. (n.d.). Institute for Responsible Technology. Retreived from //responsibletechnology.org/gmo-education/.

Pollan, Michael. (1998, October 25). Playing God in the Garden. The New York Times.


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