Genetically Modified FoodsJuly 29, 2009
Back in the 1980s, four independent groups of scientists created the first transgenic plants, or genetically modified plants. Some of the experimental plants grown were created by inserting bacterial genes into plant genes. Other experimental plants grown were created by inserting genes from one plant species into a different plant species. The end result of those four experiments yielded the creation of new plants — genetically engineered plants. Without human intervention, those plants would have never existed – the genetically modified methodology is unnatural and not true to plant genetics.
Fast forward a few decades and the science of genetic engineering has now created many new plants. And those new, genetically modified plants are now crops grown in fields. Those crops have become part of the food-chain now, because many of the crops are grown on a commercial level for animal feed or human consumption.
If you are a gardener and grow most (or all) of your yearly food supply, you are probably not worried about genetic engineering or genetically modified plants. But because of seed contamination, open pollination, and several other environmental influences, there is no way to prevent the possibility of garden vegetables becoming genetically altered. Unless you grow everything in a sealed-bubble eco-environment.
Cross-pollination or seed contamination is only part of the dilemma we now face with genetically modified plants. What about genetically modified crops that are incorporated into food?
When those plants become foods, the dangers of those genetically modified plants worsen. The Union of Concerned Scientists has listed some of the risks of genetic engineering:
- New Allergens in the Food Supply
- Antibiotic Resistance
- Production of New Toxins
- Concentration of Toxic Metals
- Enhancement of the Environment for Toxic Fungi
- Unknown Harms to Health
- Increased Weediness
- Gene Transfer to Wild or Weedy Relatives
- Change in Herbicide Use Patterns
- Squandering of Valuable Pest Susceptibility Genes
- Poisoned Wildlife
- Creation of New or Worse Viruses
- Unknown Harms to the Environment
Genetically modified foods are grown in most states in America. These foods are also in the international marketplace now, although some countries have banned genetically modified foods. The foods are produced from genetically modified seeds by scientists and there are definite concerns about their safety for both human and animal health, and for the health of our environment.
The Center for Food Safety writes, “Instead of tightening controls to protect the public and environment from contamination and harm, what the USDA has offered further endangers your right to choose the foods you and your family eat and farmers’ rights to their chosen livelihoods.”
Genetically modified foods are definitely NOT real foods, these are foods that have been artificially created. The genetically modified foods are plants that exist only because of human intervention.
Genetically modified foods, also known as genetically engineered foods, have been created with profit and power as the sole reasons for their production. Naturally, GM foods are made available for big agricultural enterprises, no surprise there. Genetically engineered foods are supported by the Federal Government and developed by chemical companies so that corporate farming can easily manage their enormous crop fields, regardless of the final outcome or negative impact they may have on our world.
Genetically engineered seeds, used to create these foods, are also the means being used to control our world seed bank and the crop production of foods. And these GM seeds, which have been proven to spread into neighboring farms, are the subject of a number of lawsuits by chemical companies which is becoming a financial assault on many farmers. Monsanto is the leading litigant in the majority of these lawsuits.
Gardeners know that two of the important factors that affect any garden crop involve invasions of weeds and invasions of insect pests. Sometimes garden pests and weeds can be troublesome but we have the ability to eradicate the problems without chemicals. This is proper garden management.
To the corporate farming enterprise, their methodology to manage pests and weeds is to industrially control the situation on a very large scale. Their methodology is directly correlated with their primary motive: highest yield possible for highest profit. Fast-n-dirty, the industrial corporate farms employ an arsenal of chemicals that can be used with their enormous equipment to get their problem under control. But because the industrial corporate farm is of enormous size, their methodology to manage pests and weeds is resolved with a very different solution than the average farmer, small scale farmer, or homesteader. Through their large-scale practices and the use of biotechnology, their style of agricultural farming will create another area where industrialized, corporate farming is harmful both for our environment and for our health.
Genetically modified foods begin as genetically manipulated seeds that have been engineered and tweeked by scientists for very specific traits or characteristics. The scientists who are involved in this business are primarily from chemical and biotech corporations. They seek very specific traits, or characteristics, for their foods with respect to crop management.
The traits that are being genetically engineered are classed as phenotype categories. These traits that are being genetically altered include the following traits:
- Herbicide tolerance
- Bacterial resistance
- Fungicidal resistance
- Viral resistance
- Insect resistance
- Product quality
- Agronomic properties
- Genetic containment
- Marker gene
- Selectable marker
If you have basic knowledge of plant genetics, you can easily see how specific phenotyping can alter not just a plant’s gene, but the gene pool. And when other animals are consuming those altered genes, the future consequences are actually unknown. There are NO long-term studies which have outcome results on genetically modified food consumption. A variety of short-term studies indicate that reactions to the consumption of GM foods do indeed elicit negative reactions. One study by the FDA (in 1989 using rats in a 90-day study): rats that were fed the genetically modified BT-corn developed multiple reactions typically found in response to allergies, infections, toxins and diseases. Is this what we can expect after a meal with GM foods?
Currently two of the phenotyped categories of certain genetically engineered plants are on the market. One type of crop was created for insect resistance. The other type of crop that was engineered is tolerant of toxic pesticides that can be directly sprayed onto the crop. Sounds frightening, doesn’t it?
The genetically engineered crops that were created for insect resistance are known as IR crops, and they constitute about 30% of the GM crops in the market now. The other GM crops, those that are tolerant of direct pesticide spraying, are known as herbicide tolerant, or HT crops. The HT crops make up about 70% of the GM crops in the market at this time.
One group of the herbicide tolerant (HT crops) are the Monsanto RoundUp Ready Crops, or RR crops. If you are a gardener, you are aware of a product called RoundUp. If you are an organic gardener, you don’t use it, but you know that RoundUp is an herbicide used to chemically-kill any unwanted plants. So what RR crops are being marketed now? Corn, soy, canola, and cotton.
The insect resistant crops (IR crops) are even more covert as a genetically modified ‘food’. Most of the IR crops are foods with BT grown inside the genes of the individual foods. That’s right….The IR foods are actually BT foods: foods that contain Bacillus thuringiensis in the genetic makeup of each plant.
One of the questions with GM crops is how safe will a food be for consumption when it has been repeatedly sprayed with chemical pesticides to control bugs? Another question is whether some BT-bred foods will prove to be safe to consume? The big questions involve the overall, longterm safety issues on animals and humans — will consuming GM crops show side effects in 5 years/10 years or in the next generation?
Many people believe that we are what we eat. Many of us use foods correctly and as nutritionally as possible for our health and well-being. Who in their right mind believes that eating foods which have been genetically engineered to mimic chemical spraying for pest and farm management would be good for our health?
The industrial corporations who are behind genetically modified foods include chemical companies, pharmaceutical companies, and agricultural companies. They include: Syngenta, Aventis, Monsanto, Dupont, Dow, and BASF and each major corporation owns a number of smaller corporations, many of which are becoming inter-related and involved with the agricultural industry.
The following corporations and some of their holdings are all involved with genetically modified foods:
- Novartis Seeds
- Northrup King
- Rogers NK
- Wilson Genetics
- Plant Genetics
- Plant Genetic Systems
- Harris Moran
- Du Pont
- American Cyanamid
- ExSeed Genetics
- Rohm and Haas
Frightening, isn’t it? And no one knows if the food they are consuming has been genetically modified or not — unless you specifically choose Certified Organic foods. To me, this is a no-brainer. If I don’t grow it, I buy organic foods. Or I do without.
For more information on this subject, refer to this sampling of articles, or Google the subject:
Center For Food Safety article “Genetically Engineered Food”
Center For Food Safety report “Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers”
Colorado State University, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences article “Transgenic Crops”
True Food Network article listing “GE Crops”
Union of Concern Scientists stories about the “Impacts of Genetic Engineering”
Union of Concern Scientists article “Questions and Answers About Pharmaceutical and Industrial Crops”