By Heidi Toy
What Is a GMO?
GMOs, or “genetically modified oganisms,” are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology. This is also called genetic engineering (GE) and genetic modification (GM)
This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
Nearly all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide (these are called Roundup Ready crops) or to produce their own systemic insecticide (Bt corn and Bt cotton).
In the grocery store, approximately 80 percent of the items are made with GMOs: corn chips, corn cereal, corn starch, soy milk, tofu, high fructose corn syrup, sodas, non-dairy creamers, salad dressings, baby formulas, candy bars, waffles, seasoning packets, frozen meals, soups, sauces, snack foods. Then there are the individual product ingredients: amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, vitamin C, citric acid, sodium citrate, ethanol, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, maltodextrin, molasses, monosodium glutamate, sucrose, textured vegetable protein, xanthan gum. In other words, GMOs are in most processed foods.
The following crops are being genetically engineered for human consumption:
▪ 95 percent of sugar beets
▪ 94 percent of soybeans
▪ 90 percent of canola
▪ 90 percent of cottonseed (cottonseed oil is a common ingredient in vegetable oils and margarine)
▪ 88 percent of corn
▪ Hawaiian papaya
▪ small amounts of zucchini and yellow squash
Recently, genetically modified alfalfa won U.S. government approval and is being grown for animal feed. Also, in the summer of 2012, GMO sweet corn (corn on the cob, frozen corn, and canned corn) appeared on grocery store shelves and roadside produce stands.
In addition to GMO alfalfa, GMO corn and GMO soy are fed to livestock. If you are not consuming GMOs directly, say by eating What Are the Health Risks Associated with GMOs?
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine called for a ban on GMOs and urges physicians to advise all patients to avoid GMOs and indicates that several animal studies indicate serious health risks, including:
▪ immune problems including allergies
▪ accelerated aging
▪ faulty insulin regulation
▪ gastrointestinal disease
▪ DNA damage
The British Medical Society, in 1999, called for a ban on the introduction of GE crops.
As long ago as 1997, scientists warned that genetically engineered food may result in new pathogenic bacteria because GMOs have crossed species lines.
Additionally, the use of GMO crops has increased the use of pesticides that are carcinogenic. Exposure to pesticides is linked to all manner of chronic illnesses including increased risk of reproductive abnormalities, birth defects, neurological problems, allergies, and cancer.
Industry points to the lack of a “smoking gun.” Deniability of health problems is easy when they come on slowly as opposed to a pandemic. Remember it took twenty-plus years for the U.S. government to admit that smoking causes cancer, for example. Meanwhile, we saw a lot of industry-sponsored studies that smoking was not harmful. There were a lot of industry lobbyists behind the scenes working to keep cigarettes on the market. Today, we see the soda industry in a similar battle as more and more experts, including CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, lay considerable blame for the obesity epidemic on the soda manufacturers’ products. Bottom line: human problems may be hidden for years, and may be masked by well-financed public relations campaigns, industry sponsored studies, and lobbying.
Heidi Toy is a Functional Nutritional Therapist, and the owner of “Educated Nutrition”, located in Altoona, WI. Her focus is helping people heal holistically, with an emphasis on digestion, weight loss, depression, female hormone issues, and fatigue.