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If A Strawberry Contains Fish Genes Is It Still Vegetarian?

Affiliate Disclosure | in Health | by | with 32 Comments

[info_box]Caution: This post contains heartbreaking images of children that have been harmed by chemical exposure. [/info_box]

If You Think Kids Are Asking Hard Questions Now, Just Wait

Biotech companies are actively working toward a world in which we will have to explain the reason potatoes glow in the dark when they need watering and why pigs have cowhides. Oh yes, these have really been attempted, as has the strawberry/fish combo from the title!¹ As you read this they are dicing and splicing dozens of species for new crops, even new animals, for you to help your children grapple with.

Did I say just wait? I meant DON’T WAIT. Most of us know that GMO genes are drifting into organic fields. We know that when we buy corn, sugar, canola, or soy that it is most likely contaminated. But as I learned when I began researching for my guest post at Food Renegade, there is more to the story.

Genetic Pollution: Biotech’s Dirty Little Secret

“Tweedle dee dee! Tweedle dee dee! The fly has married the bumble bee!,” sings my three year-old.

That’s ridiculous, I tell her. What’s next, the dog runs off with the squirrell and the cat pines hopelessly for the badger? We have laws against these things, little miss. Natural laws that protect the integrity of a species’ genome.

Unfortunately, biotech firms don’t think the rules apply to them. They’re using genetic material from pathogenic viruses, genetic parasites and bacteria to breach the hull of the genome, so to speak, and infect it with alien genes.

Problem is, once these pathogenic viruses, parasites and bacteria have the ability to penetrate genomes, they can do it again . . . to you.

The constructs are designed to break down species barriers and to overcome mechanisms that prevent foreign genetic material from inserting into genomes.

. . .These constructs are introduced into cells by invasive methods that lead to random insertion of the foreign genes into the genomes (the totality of all the genetic material of a cell or organism). This gives rise to unpredictable, random effects, including gross abnormalities in animals and unexpected toxins and allergens in food crops.

. . . transgenic DNA – the totality of artificial constructs transferred into the GMO – may be more unstable and prone to transfer again to unrelated species; potentially to all species interacting with the GMO.

Open Letter from World Scientists to All Governments Concerning Genetically Modified Organisms, (emphasis mine)


Horizontal gene transfer is likely to spread antibiotic resistant “marker” genes that could render infectious diseases untreatable, a generation of new viruses and bacteria that cause diseases, and harmful mutations which may lead to cancer. Here’s what they’ve got cooking in current field trials:

  • Corn engineered with human genes (Dow)
  • Sugarcane engineered with human genes (Hawaii Agriculture Research Center)
  • Corn engineered with jellyfish genes (Stanford University)
  • Tobacco engineered with lettuce genes (University of Hawaii)
  • Rice engineered with human genes (Applied Phytologics)
  • Corn engineered with hepatitis virus genes (Prodigene)

Of course, Monsanto said this genetically modified material is safe because it is killed on contact with stomach acid. So no problem, right? Yeah, we’re seeing it in the bloodstream of pregnant moms and their unborn babies.

What about cooking? Would that help? “Plant DNA is not readily degraded during most commercial food processing. Procedures such as grinding and milling left grain DNA largely intact, as did heat-treatment at 90deg.C [194 degrees Farenheit]. Plants placed in silage showed little degradation of DNA, and a special UK MAFF report advises against using GM plants or plant waste in animal feed.” ²

Not only that, but studies show we don’t even have to EAT the stuff to have it scramble our DNA. “In commenting on the FDA’s document, the UK MAFF pointed out that transgenic DNA may be transferred not just by ingestion, but by contact with plant dust and air-borne pollen during farm work and food processing. ³

Can We Trust Monsanto’s Safety Record?

Agent Orange: “Essentially it’s so safe you can drink it”(4)

Vietnam’s victims of Agent Orange, 2007. Photo reprinted with permission. Copyright Merle Ratner/


Glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) has a history of “safe use for over 30 years in more than 130 countries.” Any evidence to the contrary is merely a “variation.”

Glyphosate associated birth defect published at The Ecologist


There is “no rational reason” to warn the public of the health effects of PCB’s. And the increased IGF-1 levels in rGBH-treated milk are perfectly safe, too. Mmm hmmm, right.

When I see these children, I see not just their physical struggles, but the recklessness that allowed it to happen. Although it is painful I choose to witness it . . . to allow these images to wash over my mind as I stand at the Home Depot counter deciding whether to spend the afternoon pulling weeds or just buy a bottle of Roundup. Was it necessary to post these images to make my point? I’m not sure. All I know is we cannot hide these realities in asylums and dark corners of third world countries we never visit.

Co-Existence Is Not Possible

Despite what they say about buffer zones and containment, cross-pollination between GMO and organic varieties is inevitable. In 2004, citizen groups tested nearly 20,000 papaya seeds on the island of Hawaii. Half of the seeds were genetically modified, even though 80% were taken from organic farms that were not supposed to be GMO.¹

FindYour Inner Erin Brockovich

You may be standing knee-deep in laundry right now, or trying to figure out how to defrost and roast a chicken in half an hour, or wondering if I’m about to ask you to join Greenpeace and chain yourself to to the doors of a pro-rGBH dairy (please don’t). You may be thinking you don’t have time for this, and I don’t blame you.

But here’s the thing: Monsanto is ready to roll out plums, rice, cauliflower . . . everything really. And believe it or not, most Americans have NO IDEA.

In a 2010 survey taken by the International Food Information Council, only 28 percent of respondents knew genetically modified foods were sold in stores.

It’s Independence Week here in the United States . . . a celebration of the charter of the Declaration of Independence. I’m on the hunt for sparklers and the perfect GAPS friendly banana cream pie, but I’m also planning to declare my own independence, too.

If some people are allowed to choose to grow, sell and consume GM foods, soon nobody will be able to choose food, or a biosphere, free of GM. It’s a one way choice, like the introduction of rabbits or cane toads to Australia; once it’s made, it can’t be reversed.

Roger Levett, “Choice: Less can be more”, Food Ethics, Vol. 3, No. 3, Autumn 2008

The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t require labeling of GMO’s. “If companies say genetic engineering is fine, then OK let’s label it and let the consumers make their own decisions,” said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumers Union, which produces Consumer Reports. “That’s what all the free market supporters say. So let’s let the market work properly.

Here’s what you can do to declare food freedom from your living room, or kitchen, or wherever you happen to be right now.

Raise awareness. Only 28 percent of people know GMO’s are sold in stores, so let’s educate our family and friends by sharing articles on Facebook, talking over dinner, etc.

Support Truth In Labeling

Download the Non-GMO Shopping Guide . . . and use it!

How Will YOU Declare Independence This Week?

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32 Responses to If A Strawberry Contains Fish Genes Is It Still Vegetarian?

  1. Whittney Bevington Hoyler via FB says:

    Leave them. It is one of the reasons I spend hours on my knees pulling weeds out of our brick patio….

  2. rawkinmom says:

    Very scary and very sad….I do think sometimes we like to only see and hear comfortable things and we don’t wan’t to think about or be taught about things like this….I have learned that the majority of people I come into contact with like to turn the other cheek and not think about what is wrong with our food…they become disassociated with it so they can still enjoy their favorite things….I have heard many times from family even…the words..if I don’t know it can’t hurt me….that is very sad :(

    • Heather says:

      It is sad and I used to feel the same way about enjoying my favorite foods. I have new favorite foods now that boost my mood and give me energy instead of making me feel like a slug. People think eating healthy is about deprivation when actually it’s the exact opposite, don’t you think?

  3. HaleyLeann says:

    Excellent post, Heather! I will most definitely be sharing this article. Thanks!

  4. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    Thank you, Whittney. I get so emotionally invested in this topic it’s hard to see where the line is. Outside perspective is really helpful.

  5. Jolee Burger via FB says:

    I do appreciate the warning about the images though, as I am able to mentally prepare. I also appreciate reading your conflict about posting them, as it endears me to you even more!

  6. Melissa Holloway via FB says:

    This is absolutely terrifying

  7. Jolee Burger via FB says:

    (I may have meant it endears you to me… it is early and no coffee.)

  8. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    @Jolee – I would say it works both ways in this particular instance :)

  9. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    @Melissa – Yes it is, but it is not hopeless! If just 5% of Americans stopped buying GMO’s the Institute for Responsible Technology thinks most food corps would stop using them.

  10. Laurie Neverman via FB says:

    Keep the images, keep the warning. People need to know!

  11. Melissa Holloway via FB says:

    Oh yes I try my best to avoid gmo and non organic as much as possible, I just can’t seem to convince my family to do the same! They think I’m crazy and way over the top :( I love reading your blog though, it gives me good info to through their way!

  12. Laurie Neverman via FB says:

    It may be helpful to add captions under the photos so that it’s clear exactly what they’ve been exposed to. Well done article.

  13. Laurie says:

    Excellent post. I just wrote a couple of posts about this topic for the Journal of Natural Food and Health ( – Roundup Linked to Infertility, Spontaneous Abortions and Other Animal Health Problems) and one on Living Well Moms (Would you feed your kids pesticide chips? –,

    We are poisoning our food supply, and very few people seem to pay any attention. It’s getting harder and harder to find gmo-free food – it’s everywhere! Pandora’s box has been opened.

    I just ordered a flame weeder last week, and will be using that instead of Roundup on our gravel driveway. I just can’t expose my family to that toxic garbage anymore.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Laurie – I read that Pesticide Chips post awhile back and though it was very well put together. Must have been pulled away before I could leave a comment, but I’ve corrected that now. :) Will definitely be checking out your other article. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Tana says:

      You can also just pour undiluted vinegar on any weeds or plants you want dead, and on a hot day it works even better. Cheap and easy!

  14. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    @Laurie – Great suggestion. I’ll do that.

  15. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    @Melissa – I can definitely relate. Hopefully one day thinks will “click” for them :)

  16. Laurie Neverman via FB says:

    @Melissa – I am slowly winning friends over on taste. – sneak attack!

  17. Veronica says:

    Having spent most of my college career in the Agriculture department, I used to be on the other side of the aisle. The goals of these GMOs is to improve upon what we already have – farmers want more heat and insect resistant crops and cows that produce more milk. Just the other day I brought up rBST milk with my husband and was trying to explain the controversy. Sure, Monsanto says rBST is safe, hasn’t had any official links to breast cancer or the like. But will I drink it? No. I prefer to err on the side of caution. Can there be any long term study at this point? Probably not.
    I really appreciate your closing comments on the free market. This is where it all starts. Not just “let the consumers make their own decisions”, but it really goes back to government intervention (much like most problems we have today).
    A farmer produces a yearly crop. The government steps in and subsidizes his farming operations to help keep the consumer costs down. But, they also subsidize the farmer next door to NOT farm ANYTHING, thus limiting the supply. So in instances like a few years ago, when the Florida orange crop was destroyed the cost of a carton of orange juice skyrocketed.
    Which brings me back to my original point. Instead of facing a total crop loss, farmers are trying to protect themselves by using these GMOs because the government won’t let free markets dictate supply and demand.
    Wow, sorry this was so long. I just wanted to help clarify why these are used, and the contribution government subsidies have made. Maybe that’s why they haven’t required labeling of GMOs…?
    I really enjoy your blog. Keep doing what you do.

    • Heather says:

      I agree that subsidies are a huge part of the problem as they promote monoculture and throw token funding at truly sustainable agriculture. Sadly, the “benefits” of GMO’s often touted to farmers aren’t even accurate (more on that at the bottom of this article

    • Brynna says:

      This is always a huge struggle for me. I know what choices I need to make in order to keep my family healthy. However, they directly go against what my father does. He is a hard-working, honest farmer, a true steward of the land, but he’s bound by the government. It breaks my heart to know that in order to make certain healthier choices for my family, that means NOT supporting him. I am still trying to find a good balance there. Farmers have a difficult enough time as it is in our country anymore, as we don’t support our own! The government regulates the crap out of them yet would rather give other countries priority. It’s quite ridiculous.

      • Daniel says:

        Wow. That’s a tough position to be in, Brynna. I imagine there’s a pretty harsh internal battle between loyalty and the earnest desire for something healthier.

        I come from a different family culture, so maybe my thoughts won’t apply, but here’s my take. I can pray for my parents and try to talk to them when I think they need to hear another perspective, but they know I’m not responsible for their well-being. Their business has never partially relied upon me, so I’m probably not qualified to say for sure, but I’d like to believe that I would do what I believe is best for those God has put in my care. I have to trust Him for our provision just like my parents do. Again, I’ve never been in your shoes, so I’m speaking hypothetically.

  18. Margo Snider via FB says:

    Wow, wow, wow….I know the “she is crazy” thought pops in peoples heads when i talk to people about and what we feed our child and family but this stuff is the reason! Great post heather, I am sharing it on my FB page and I sent letters to my senators!

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  20. Mégan Miles Alba via FB says:

    Post them. People need to know what’s happening. We didn’t do anything about concentration camps until we saw what was happening to those poor people, either.

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