GMOs: Your Family is Eating Them and You Don’t Even Know
By: Dr. Peggy Malone
I have been reading and listening and learning a lot about GMOs in the last year or so and I really feel like I need to share some information.
Keep in mind that it feels scary to read some of this information and many people want to hide under their blankets and ignore this kind of information because it seems overwhelming.
Keep an open mind when reading through today’s post and know that every person with even small actions can make a difference. Our health and wellness and that of our future generations is depending on it.
What are GMOs?
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE).
This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.
Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.
Are GMOs safe?
Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In nearly 50 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs.
In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.
All the safety studies submitted to approve GMO seeds were only short term.
The world’s first lifetime feeding study discovered that rats fed a diet containing 11 percent GE corn developed massive breast tumors, kidney and liver damage and other serious health problems in the 13th month of life. The average life span of a rat is about two years.
The fact of the matter is that the long-term health effects and safety of these crops have never actually been properly evaluated or affirmed prior to being approved for widespread planting. This information is absolutely critical for North American families raising young children.
Yet at present, they have no way of avoiding foods that contain GE ingredients, should they wish to do so.
To put the findings of this animal feeding study into human perspective, if the average lifespan of a person is 80 years, these health problems would start rearing their ugly head somewhere during the 43rd year of life, provided your diet contained just over 10 percent GE foods and you began eating them in early childhood.
Well, guess what?
Any child in the US or Canada who eats processed foods on a regular basis consumes at least 10 percent GE ingredients.
The actual percentage is in fact likely to be FAR higher than that. According to a shocking report released by the Environmental Working Group on October 15, Americans are eating their weight and more in genetically engineered food every year—an average of 193 pounds of GE foods annually!
‘If you were planning on eating your body weight of anything in a year or feeding that much food to your family, wouldn’t you first want to know if long-term government studies and monitoring have shown it is safe?'” ~ Renee Sharp, lead author of a report by the Environmental Working Group.
Are GMOs labeled?
Unfortunately, even though polls consistently show that a significant majority of Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs, the powerful biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve.
America and Canada are the largest producers of genetically engineered crops in the world and their governments are some of the biggest opponents to genetically engineered food labeling systems.
However, the European Union, Australia, Russian and Japan all require that genetically engineered foods are identified to consumers.
Most of the rest of the industrialized world knows what is in their food. Do you think that us folks in North America should have the right to know what we are eating and feeding to our families everyday?
The introduction of genetically modified (GM) food and crops has been a disaster. The science of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another was supposed to be a giant leap forward, but instead they pose a serious threat to biodiversity and our own health.
In addition, the real reason for their development has not been to end world hunger but to increase the stranglehold multinational biotech companies already have on food production. As Kris Carr so eloquently states:
“Monsanto (the dark lord) wants global domination over seeds, chemicals and patents. Some very powerful companies prosper when you’re sick or on your way to getting sick. Not so much when you’re healthy and vibrant.”
And – The simple truth is, we don’t need GM technology in order to possess future food security. Using sustainable and organic farming methods will allow us to repair the damage done by industrial farming, reducing the excessive use of fertilizer, herbicides and other man-made chemicals, and making GM crops redundant.
Many scientists argue that there is more than enough food in the world and that the hunger crisis is caused by problems in food distribution and politics, not production, so people should not be offered food that may carry some degree of risk.
Most Common Genetically Modified Foods: (ie. Stuff that you and your family are eating every day)
Corn – Resistant to certain pesticides – Corn oil, flour, sugar or syrup. May include snack foods, baked goods, fried foods, edible oil products, confectionery, special purpose foods, and soft drinks. In almost every conventional breakfast cereal that millions of North Americans (including babies and children) eat every day.
Soybean – Genetically modified to be resistant to herbicides – Soy foods including, soy beverages, tofu, soy oil, soy flour, lecithin. Other products may include breads, pastries, snack foods, baked products, fried products, edible oil products and special purpose foods.
Honey – Honey can be produced from GM crops. Some Canadian honey comes from bees collecting nectar from GM canola plants. This has shut down exports of Canadian honey to Europe.
Sweet corn – genetically modified to produce its own insecticide. Officials from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have said that thousands of tonnes of genetically engineered sweetcorn have made their way into the human food supply chain, even though the produce has been approved only for use in animal feed.
Recently Monsanto, a biotechnology food producer, said that about half of the USA’s sweetcorn acreage has been planted with genetically modified seed this year.
Canola – Canola oil. May include edible oil products, fried foods, and baked products, snack foods.
Vegetable Oil – Most generic vegetable oils and margarines used in restaurants and in processed foods in North America are made from soy, corn, canola, or cottonseed. Unless these oils specifically say “Non-GMO” or “Organic,” it is probably genetically modified.
Meat – Meat and dairy products usually come from animals that have eaten GM feed.
Dairy Products – About 22 percent of cows in the U.S. are injected with recombinant (genetically modified) bovine growth hormone (rbGH). On top of this, most cows in North America are eating genetically modified corn.
Ok, so all of this sounds very scary….the next question is:
What can you do about it?
1) Start reading the labels on everything that you buy and eat. This will begin your education on what is really in the stuff you are feeding to your family every day.
2) Buy and eat local and organic whole foods whenever possible. Start visiting your local farmers market. If you know your farmer, you know your food. Avoid processed foods, including breakfast cereals, crackers, cookies, prepared meals, all of which almost certainly contain GMO.
3) Look for Non-GMO Verified products. Check out the Non-GMO Project website for a list of companies that are verified. http://www.nongmoproject.org/find-non-gmo/search-participating-products/
4) Check out Greenpeace’s Shopping Guide which gives a lot of detail on which companies products that you are buying everyday in the grocery store contain GMOs. It also gives some great tips on what to buy to avoid GMOs. http://gmoguide.greenpeace.ca/shoppers_guide.pdf
5) Write a letter to your Member of Parliament (or to your government representative in the US) and let them know that GMOs are not cool with you and you want to see all products that include labeled as such.
6) Tell everyone you know. The reason this is still happening is because very few people know about it!
This really is something that is vitally important to our health and wellness now and for that of our future generations. The choices you make when buying food will resonate quickly.
It’s time to stand up and demand to know what we are eating!!
Until next time,
Dr. Peggy Malone is a Chiropractor and an Athlete who helps other athletes to overcome injury and get back to their sport. Her weekly Television Series 'Living Well" inspires people from all walks of life to take control of their health to be as happy and as healthy as they can be.
A former varsity Basketball and Rugby player, she has since entered the world of endurance athletics where she has completed 2 Ironman Triathlons, 3 Marathons, several Half Marathons and many other Triathlons, Road Races and Off-Road Adventure races of varying distances.
Her own athletic endeavors and injuries have given her valuable insight into working with athletes in her practice for both the care of injuries as well as for the improvement of athletic performance.