Got GMO's?  How Do You Know?

What do the countries of the European Union, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, China all have in common?  They all require labeling of food with the controversial ingredients known as “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs), or genetically engineered (GE) organisms, or genetically modified (GM) organisms.

The United States doesn’t.

Over 60 countries have bans or labeling.  The bans, which are by far most effective, were put in place to halt the harms caused by GM agriculture.  To learn from farmers (including GM farmers) how GM crops have affected their agricultural practices, watch the video on our homepage - GM Crops Farmer to Farmer.

Genetically modified food, also called frankenfood by concerned scientists, is found in most processed food in the US.  If you eat food made from corn, canola, soybeans, cottonseed oil, or sugar from beets, you are most likely ingesting GMOs.  Livestock animals, including dairy cows, are fed predominantly corn, canola, soy, and alfalfa, which is also genetically engineered.

Currently, a GM Atlantic salmon is up for approval for American tables, as well.  Not one of these plant or animal products is required to be labeled in the U.S., even though the public has repeatedly demanded choice.  Currently, the only way to know you are not purchasing food contaminated with GMOs is to not buy anything that contains a likely GMO nongmoproject.jpgfood, and/or to buy only processed foods that have the “Non-GMO Project Verified seal”.

What can we do if we want the right to know what's in our food?  First, take the time to learn more below, or at these linked sites.  Your rights, health and food supply depend upon it.

What is GMO food?

“Genetically modified organisms” (GMOs), “genetically engineered” (GE) and “genetically modified” (GM) food are plants or animals whose genes have been artificially tampered with in a laboratory.  Genes from bacteria, viruses, insects, unrelated plants or animals – even humans - are used to make new, patented organisms.   These new organisms may produce pesticides, drugs, or other substances, such as cows being genetically engineered to produce human breast milk.  Currently, the most common GM trait is to create food plants that can survive being sprayed with large amounts of herbicides - such as the patented line of soybeans, sugar beets, cotton and canola that are “RoundUp Ready”.

Many of these GMOs have been in our food supply since the 1990s, even though the American public has shown considerable reluctance to eat GMOs when given the choice.

It is estimated that over 80% of packaged foods, including baby formula, sold in the US contain GM ingredients.  Corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, and cottonseed are predominantly GM.  Many other food crops are currently being modified.

Is genetic engineering (GE) different from plant or animal breeding?

Breeding is mating (aka, the “birds and the bees”).  It is a completely natural process.   Only related varieties or species can crossbreed.  For example broccoli can be crossed with kale because they are closely related plants, but broccoli can’t be crossed with a tomato (an unrelated plant) or a pig (not a plant).

Genetic engineering usually mixes completely unrelated species, making creations such as corn that is a pesticide and cows that produce human breast milk.  Techniques can include the use of viruses and bacteria, such as E. Coli.

Genetic engineering is a completely different process than breeding.  Any home gardener can breed new plant varieties through the age-old practice of selection and pollination – mating one related organism to another.   Genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) can only be created in a highly sophisticated laboratory.  

This is the largest human food experiment ever performed and we’re all part of it - without our consent.  When polled, most citizens believe we have the right to know what is in our food.   However, we do not yet have this choice in the U.S., while even citizens of China and Russia do.

Are GMOs safe to eat?

GMOs have a poor track record.  Countries around the world have banned certain GM foods, after finding them too risky.  In 1989, a form of tryptophan made from GE bacterium killed 37 people, disabled 1,500 people and sickened approximately 5,000 people.  The Center for Food Safety states, “Human health effects [from GMOs] can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer.”

A 2011 independent long-term feeding study showed a dramatic increase in tumors in rats fed GM food. A 2010 human study found the insecticidal toxin produced by BT Corn (a GMO) in the blood of most of the patients tested, including pregnant women and their infants.  Past studies involving mice and rats found serious effects including liver and kidney damage, increased allergic reactions, precancerous changes to the gut lining, and infertility.

A report by the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that food-related illnesses increased dramatically between 1994 and 1999.  Is there a link to GMOs?  Medical researchers are unable to tell, because GM food is not labeled in the United States.