What is GMO?
In simple terms GMOs (“genetically modified organisms”) are living organisms (plants or animals) whose cells have been artificially manipulated in a laboratory with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals using genetic engineering techniques, sometimes referred to as GE.
The History of GMO’s
Although the US was decades away from the creation and production of its first GMO food source, the origin of genetically manufactured food concept was born on the heels of a study that was published in 1859 by Charles Darwin in the first edition of The Origin of the Species, which is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. However, it wasn’t until 1974 when a team of scientist and researches first genetically modified DNA organism.
In the earlier days of genetically modified foods, tomatoes were the first crop to be genetically engineered and commercially grown. Prior to this commercial production, GM tobacco had been produced in China over a decade earlier. The GM tomato crop was created to be resistant to perishability of natural tomatoes that is not genetically modified, which was considered a benefit of the GE process.
Over a century after Darwin’s publication, groups of scientists created genetically modified plants in 1983. In 1993 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Bovine somatotropin (bST) a metabolic protein hormone used to increase milk production in dairy cows for commercial use.
GMO and the FDA
There has been plenty of controversy surrounding the use of GMO to increase US food production. While FDA regulates foods and ingredients, including foods made from GE plants, the agency neither supports GE plants based on their perceived benefits nor opposes them based on their perceived risks. FDA’s priority is to ensure that all foods, including those derived from GE plants, are safe and otherwise in compliance with the FD&C Act and applicable regulations (http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm352067.htm), there are studies and opinions against the use of GMO’s.
In recent years GMO have gained attention for being a contributing factor in an increase of the spike in food-related diseases. The Journal of Organic Systems is full of very detailed evidence of the link between genetically modified ingredients and diseases such as liver failure, urinary and bladder cancers, hypertension, thyroid disease, stroke, obesity, and more. It is replete with telling charts and graphs that describe visually the mayhem that GMOs have unleashed on society (http://naturalsociety.com/study-links-gmos-22-different-diseases/).
By slipping it into our food without our knowledge, without any indication that there are genetically modified organisms in our food, we are now unwittingly part of a massive experiment. The FDA has said that genetically modified organisms are not much different from regular food, so they’ll be treated in the same way. The problem is this, geneticists follow the inheritance of genes, what biotechnology allows us to do is to take this organism, and move it horizontally into a totally unrelated species. Now David Suzuki doesn’t normally mate with a carrot and exchange genes, what biotechnology allows us to do is to switch genes from one to the other without regard to the biological constraints. It’s very, very bad science, we assume that the principals governing the inheritance of genes vertically, applies when you move genes laterally or horizontally. There’s absolutely no reason to make that conclusion – Geneticist David Suzuki.
US Food Industry Use of GMO’s
Today the US is the leading producer of GM foods and products in the world, many of which are can be found in your pantry and refrigerator right now. Some the most common genetically modified foods are:
- Oils (canola, corn, safflower, soy)
- Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash
GMO in Cooking Oil
Genetically modified oils are amongst the most controversial of the all the GE food groups. During hydrogenation and processing trans fatty acids (not to be confused with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which the “good” fats) are created. You want to avoid consuming these dangerous by products of processing oils at all costs.
Hydrogenation (or, more accurately, “partial hydrogenation,” as the process is incomplete) is the forced chemical addition of hydrogen into omega-6 polyunsaturated oils to make them hard at room temperatures. The chemical structure of artificially hardened hydrogenated fat is, however, different from either that of a naturally hard saturated fat or naturally liquid unsaturated (mono- or poly-) oil. Saturated fats have a rigid straight molecular form, which tends to “rigidify” the body structures into which they are incorporated, like blood vessels (thus the association between hard animal fats and atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries). Unsaturated fats have various wavy or zigzag forms (called “cis-” forms) that contribute to more flexible arteries and other body structures. Hydrogenated fats also have bent molecular shapes, but hydrogenated fats are bent in the mirror-opposite direction (which is why they are called “trans-” forms) of naturally occurring unsaturated fats. For this reason, hydrogenated fats are difficult for the body to “grab onto” and metabolize, and can neither be incorporated into cell structures nor excreted in the normal fashion. Thus, hydrogenated or “trans-” fats tend to remain “stuck” in blood circulation, becoming oxidized and most importantly, contributing significantly to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and possibly also cancer (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=10).
Other Commonly Used GMO Products
|Cotton||Because the oil can be consumed, cotton is considered a food. It has been altered to produce a chemical that kills many pests|
|Dairy Products||Many cows have been given a growth hormone that can be found in their milk|
|Flax||Altered to resist herbicides, flax is in many products that contain flax oil and seed|
|Honey||Some honey comes from bees collecting nectar near fields with modified foods growing in them|
|Meat||Meat is considered altered because it comes from animals that have eaten modified foods|
|Papaya||Papayas have been modified to be more virus resistant.|
|Peas||Modified peas produced an allergic reaction in mice that could also happen in humans. They had been altered to make them produce a pesticide|
|Rapeseed||Rapeseed has been made to be more resistant to pesticides and also to be erucic acid-free|
|Sugar Cane||Sugar cane has been altered to be resistant to pesticides. Modified sugar cane cannot be marketed successfully as the public has such a low opinion of it|
|Tobacco||A tobacco has been altered that contains very little nicotine|
|Vitamins||Vitamins are produced from foods that have been altered, such as corn and soybeans|
Take Charge of Your Choices
Remember food manufacturers are not required to let you know which foods are genetically modified or derived from genetically modified seeds or plants, if the consumption of GMO products are of concern to you, it’s up to you to become an advocate for your body and the health of your loved ones. A simple way to avoid these products is to read and understand nutritional labels as well as research ingredients that you are not familiar with or cannot pronounce. Many unnatural and unsafe ingredients are hidden in the chemical names that your see everyday in the foods that you buy.
For more information on GMO’s visit the below links.