It's Time to Know
What's in Our Food
by Sheri Fogarty
It seems that we are finally starting to pay more attention to our food. Where does our food come from? Who grows it, and how is it grown or raised? What's in the food that we eat everyday? We are shifting in this country, towards really learning and caring about the quality of our food.
In the middle of last century, food became about convenience instead of nutrition and taste. We were all supposed to work as much as possible and eat our food from frozen packages, as this was considered an advancement of food technology.
Since the mid-1990s, we've been subjected to another purported advancement in food technology: genetically modified organism (GMO) foods. Unfortunately this technology is often used without safety-testing and without consumer knowledge and consent.
A friend who just started learning about GMOs told me she felt badly that she didn't know about them before now. It got me thinking, as I felt the same way when I first learned about what was going on with our food supply, how could I not know I was feeding my kids genetically modified food? And why didn't I even know what they were?
The Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide says: "GMOs (or "genetically modified organisms") are organisms that have been created through the gene-splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This relatively new science allows DNA from one species to be injected into another species in a laboratory, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Virtually all commercial GMOs are bred to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. None of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition or any other consumer benefit. Studies, meanwhile, increasingly show a correlation between consumption of GMOs and an array of health risks." (See http://www.nongmoproject.org/consumers/.)
Jeffrey Smith says, in The Big GMO Cover-Up: "Outside the carefully controlled laboratory setting, it is more difficult to confidently assign GMOs as the cause for a particular set of diseases, especially since there are no human clinical trials and no agency that even attempts to monitor GMO-related health problems among the population. 'If there are problems,' says biologist David Schubert, PhD, of the Salk Institute, 'we will probably never know because the cause will not be traceable and many diseases take a very long time to develop.'"
"GM crops were widely introduced in 1996. Within nine years, the incidence of people in the US with three or more chronic diseases nearly doubled—from 7% to 13%. Visits to the emergency room due to allergies doubled from 1997 to 2002. And overall food related illnesses doubled from 1994 to 2001, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and autism are also among the conditions that are skyrocketing in the US." (See http://urbangardenmagazine.com/2009/11/the-big-gmo-cover-up-2/.)
So why didn't we all know about GMOs? Because it seems as if Monsanto and the other biotech companies making them did not want us to know. Putting genetically modified organisms in our food was never presented to the American people; it was done without our knowledge or consent. The FDA—which, like the USDA, is now staffed with many former employees of Monsanto—allowed GMO seeds and food to be produced and marketed, based on the industries' own assurance that their products are safe. Their basis for safety was that the seed was the same as the non-GMO seed, although at the same time they said it was also very different and that they should be able to patent it. (Genetically engineered seeds have no consumer benefit. They only benefit the companies who hold the patents.)
There was never any safety testing done by the US government, and tests done elsewhere in the world have shown genetically engineered seed and the food grown from it to be unsafe and potentially dangerous. Our government has handed our food supply over to a private multi-national corporation. This is the corporation that gave us DDT and Agent Orange. They now own almost all of our commercial seed.
They are not doing this to "feed the world," as their marketing campaign states; they are doing this to control our food supply in order to increase their profits. If these companies were creating GMOs for altruistic reasons, they would not be patenting their seeds, suing our farmers, or putting our seed cleaners out of business. Farmers have traditionally saved their seed to replant for the next year. They've done this for thousands of years. With all the commercial seed cleaners out of business, large farms can't save their seeds anymore and have to buy new seed each year. (Read the excellent Vanity Fair article, "Monsanto's Harvest of Fear": http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/monsanto200805.)
Unless it's organic, 80 percent of the processed foods in the supermarkets contain genetically engineered ingredients—mostly from soy, corn, canola, and sugar beets. These same foods are on the market in Europe without GE ingredients because the people spoke up and first demanded labeling, and also said they would not buy the food if it had GE ingredients.
Monsanto just got approval for genetically modified sweet corn, and they are working on genetically modifying chocolate (don't mess with my chocolate!). They also say we should buy organic foods if we want to avoid GMOs, but their crops are starting to contaminate the organic crops. It's time to stand up for our food supply and say NO to GMOs!
Don't feel badly if you didn't know about GMOs. It seems as if we were all kept in the dark intentionally, but we don't have to stay in the dark. Educate yourself about genetically engineered food. Tell your family and friends. What we eat affects our health and the health of our children. It's time to take back our food.
If you're in California, you can join the effort to get Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods on the California ballot for November 2012. We have thousands of volunteers across the state and we have gotten enough signatures to get this on the ballot. Now we're working on education and outreach. We have speakers and educational films that we can bring to your school, yoga studio, doctors office, or church.http://www.momsforsafefood.org. Contact her at email@example.com.