Genetically Modified Foods
Genetically modified foods are foods created by inserting the genes of one organism into another unrelated organism for some specific purpose. The usual purpose is to increase the agricultural yields from the host food by building in protection against heavy applications of pesticide spray, or to extend the shelf life of the food.
The health effects of most of these foods have never been tested, and indeed they were introduced to our food supply with little warning or notification.
How is the DNA of these foods modified? The biotech companies use the word "insertion" to describe how the modified gene is placed in the host cell. This conjures up pictures of scientists carefully inserting a needle into a cell and gently placing the gene. Not so.
The following talks about how genes are inserted to create genetically modified foods. This info is from a book titled Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey Smith:
"One common method used to "insert" genes is to blast them into the DNA with a 22-caliber gene gun. Scientists first coat thousands of tiny shards of gold or tungsten with the foreign gene. Then they point it at a dish of unsuspecting cells. Then they fire, hoping that at least some of the foreign genes will end up in the right place in at least some of the DNA. This, by the way, is what the biotech industry refers to as their highly precise method of gene transfer.
Proponents of genetic engineering say that GE is just an extension of the natural evolution of breeding. But natural breeding is a product of closely related species - two strains of cotton might be combined for a softer cotton end product.
In nature, a cotton plant and a virus would never exchange DNA spontaneously, and forcing the combinations of the DNA of these wildly different organisms could result in some nasty surprises for us.
For instance, Jeffery Smith writes that: "scientists who genetically modified yeast to increase its rate of fermentation were shocked to discover that it also increased the levels of a naturally occurring toxin by 40 to 200 times."
In another botched job, a Japanese chemical manufacturer tampered with the DNA of the bacteria they used to create an amino acid called L-Tryptophan. The company wanted to dramatically increase the yields they got during the manufacturing process. What they didn't plan on was the toxic effects their DNA tampering caused. Over 40 people died and thousands more were injured after taking the this company's L-tryptophan product in the late 1980s.
This highlights the fact that genetically modified foods and food supplements are not tested before they are sold to the public.
Arrogance and Greed
The arrogance of the companies who create these genetically modified foods is astounding to me. They readily admit that they don't know all of the details of how many of the DNA mechanisms they change actually work, but they continue to tamper with the basic stuff of life for monetary gain.
They are literally guessing that the changes they make will give them the result they want. But in tampering with the genetic code of the organisms around us, they play at what Nature has taken millions of years to create and perfect.
Indeed, there is a strong possibility that in changing what they don't understand, these scientists could create an new and lethal organism that mankind can't fight - a super virus that puts an end to the controversy by putting an end to us.
Who will stop them? Not the US Government apparently. Jeffrey Smith's book documents the rigged research results, the threats of job loss and coercion applied to FDA scientists by FDA officials, and the political collusion that allows these companies to run roughshod over the rest of us.
It's also curious to me that our newspapers and TV news programs, who so love to scare the American public with the latest health threat, have nothing to say on this terrifying subject.
It does seem like an unfair fight when faced with this kind of power, arrogance and greed, but you can fight with your wallet. Refuse to purchase foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. If enough of us boycott these products, maybe we can make a difference. You can find a non-GMO shopping guide here.
We Don't Need No Stinkin' Labels..
In the United States, because of this pressure from the powerful corporations that create these genetically modified foods, the Federal government does NOT require that genetically modified foods be labeled as such. (The FDA does have a list of genetically modified foods on the web.)
This lack of labeling goes directly against the wishes of the public. In 1999, a poll taken by the Time magazine found that 82% of Americans thought genetically modified food should be labeled, and 58% said if these foods were labeled, they would NOT buy them. Several other polls found the same thing. The majority of Americans want to know if a food has been genetically modified, primarily so it can be avoided.
The authors of a book titled Genetically Engineered Food make a great point about this: "Imagine a pharmaceutical company slipping an entirely different chemical or additive into a well known, over the counter drug, and then continuing to market the drug as the same well known drug, never telling the consumer about the different chemical composition. Remarkably, this is what the agriculture biotech industry is doing to our food – they are changing its make-up, and selling it to us as if it’s the same food we’ve eaten all our lives."
When I consider the strong ties between the pharmaceutical companies and the NIH, FDA and other federal agencies, it wouldn't surprise me if this "fictitious" scenario of sneaking drug changes into mainstream medicine came true.
Resources for Further Reading on Genetically Modified Foods
More Info on GMOs in our Food Supply