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.
“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.
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)
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.”
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.
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
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!