Unwitting public consuming more GMO foods while evidence of harm continues to mount
by Tony Isaacs
Most Americans do not want genetically modified foods and consider them dangerous. Because the U.S. does not require manufacturers to disclose genetically modified (GM or GMO) ingredients on the product labels, the public is largely unaware of when they are purchasing GM foods. Such foods are now found in up to 70 percent of all grocery store products. While an unwitting public consumes more and more GM foods, evidence of their dangers continues to mount.
Genetically modified foods are created when genes from another species or created in a lab are inserted into a food's DNA. The foods which have the highest prevalence of genetic modifications include some of our biggest crops: corn, soybeans, canola, tomatoes, lettuce, and potatoes. Corn oil and high fructose corn syrup are widely used in food items. Virtually every salad dressing and butter substitute finds that they contain one or more of corn oil, canola oil or soybean oil.
The European Union, Japan, China, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand require labeling of foods containing GMO content. Despite a CBS News showing a majority of Americans want labeling, no such laws exist. A CBS poll also found that 53 percent of Americans wouldn't buy food they knew had been genetically modified.
Experts and consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about GMO foods as evidence of their dangers continues to mount. In a study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences rats fed genetically modified corn were compared to their parents who had been fed non-GM corn. The results showed a clear difference between the two groups. The rats fed GM food had signs of liver and kidney problems as well as effects on their hearts, adrenal glands, and spleens.
A Russian study found that over 55 percent of the newborn rats from females fed genetically engineered soy flour before, during, and after pregnancy, died within three weeks and 36 percent were underweight. By comparison, only 9 percent of the offspring of rats fed non-GM soy died and less than 7 percent were underweight.
The global leader in the push for GMO foods is Monsanto. A new study which used the same data Monsanto used to gain approval of GMO corn linked organ damage to three strains of the Monsanto GM corn. The study was conducted by the Committee of Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN) and the Universities of Caen and Rouen in France. The study, completed in December 2009, appears in the International Journal of Biological Sciences (IJBS).
Ninety-nine percent of GMO crops either tolerate or produce insecticide - which might explain why we see bee colony collapse disorder and massive butterfly deaths. If GMOs destroy our pollinators, they could be more disastrous than the threat they pose to humans and other mammals. In addition to possible extinctions and eco-system harm, GMO opponents fear they could trigger the emergence of antibiotic resistant diseases due to viruses and bacteria used to modify some GM foods. They also fear such foods could raise the risk of developing cancer, lead to chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia and trigger food allergies.
To avoid GM foods:
• Read the produce stickers on fruits and vegetables. Five-digit numbers beginning with an eight mean it is a GM food. Five-digit numbers beginning with a nine indicate organic foods. Conventionally produced foods have numbers containing four digits.
• Select products that are labeled GM-free.
• Buy foods labeled "100 percent organic."
• Get your produce from small, local farmers (most GM foods come from large commercial farms).
• Avoid processed foods, especially those containing corn, soy and canola.