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GMO’s: The Myths and The Science

Our label laws are a hot topic in the food and agricultural fields. What are GMO’s ? Why are they important for the production of food? Why are we seeking laws to label this type of food on our food packaging?

It almost feels as if we are fighting for our life. I don’t know about you but I find some of the information about the use of GMO’s and those crops genetically injected with the pesticide known as Roundup confusing at best and misleading at worst. The laws to have full disclosure on the food we consume is an intense battle going on today.

“More than 60 countries across the world have approved mandatory labeling laws for GMO foods already, and polling suggests that the vast majority of Americans are in favor of doing the same. So far, in fact, almost half of all US states have introduces bill that, if approved, would either require labeling of GMO foods or prohibit them altogether.” (http://rt.com/usa/connecticut-malloy-gmo-labels-148/)

GMO, which stands for genetically modified organism, involves gene research which is very complex. How can I break down some of the science so I can understand the debate more easily? Francis Bacon said: “Knowledge is power.” I agree.

I recently participated in GMO Summit sponsored by Ocean Robbins and hosted by John Robbins and Jeffrey Smith. I found this webinar’s collections of facts and science based research and study very helpful in bringing clarity and inspiration to the importance of this fight going on around the world, not just in the US. In fact I found out our country is behind others in relating the current, relevant science to quality of plant life and nutrition, disease, soil contamination and degradation, to appropriate laws and monitoring to ensure foundational health for all species. Why are so many of us unaware of the importance of having food labeled with correct information? Why are our lawmakers so hesitant about supporting laws and issues that will ensure safe, healthy food for our nation?

I do not choose to eat irradiated food. It is known to cause toxic substances and destroys nutrients. Having worked in the oncology field as a nurse I saw firsthand the consequences of not researching the long term effects of substances before animal, human or soil use. Why are we allowing ourselves to eat GMO foods when we do not have all the research data in? What science we do have is alarming enough as the GMO summit points out in one interview after the other.

Today I want to focus on the definition and the myth surrounding it.

First: genetic engineering is a laboratory technique that is completely different from natural breeding. I had a well-trained engineer say to me: we’ve done this forever.

Fact: that is simply not true. We have done selective breeding using closely related life forms i.e. pairing different breeds of cats, for centuries.

Genetic engineering, however, is a relatively new science. It involves tissue culture, plant parts used in a laboratory. The corporate theory is that by inserting a single gene with laser like precision, this will create a predictable effect on that organism and the environment. Which is simply not true.

Fact: Genes act  in an integrated fashion; they communicate with other functions within that organism. Therefore a simple genetic modification can give rise to many unexpected changes in the food crop, which can include alterations in the nutritional values, create toxic or allergenic effects, change crop performance and possibly create harmful effects to the environment. This happened with a variety of roundup ready soy. This resultant crop was more sensitive to heat stress and more prone to infection. And that did not include if there were detrimental effects within the soy as a food for animal and human consumption. (GMO Myths and Truths: p. 19)

I would like to be clear on why Roundup is pointed out. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, a pesticide in the heat and the heart of this discussion. This pesticide is injected into the genes of a corn plant for example. When planted, the farmer can spray Roundup on their fields to supposedly decrease weeds and create a decent crop without destroying the corn plant. Weeds will succumb to the pesticide when sprayed but the corn seed will be spared because roundup is in its genetic  makeup so it will survive.

In my next post we’ll continue to look at the myths and the science that refutes the misleading information given to us by the companies that create these GMO seeds and the pesticide implicated in these discussions.

Suggested reading: go to Organic Consumers Association website: you can  download this free publication: GMO Myths and Truths.

Summary: Genetic engineering is a complex science that has complex consequences.

We have not been genetically engineering our food for centuries.

Roundup is the product that contains the pesticide glyphosate that is genetically engineered into a food crop such as corn.

Knowledge is power: Together we can make a difference.

Judith

 

 

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