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Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Recently, I gave a talk on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Sometimes GMOs are referred to as Genetically Engineered (GE) foods or more boldly labeled as Frankenfoods. GMOs have been on the market since 1996. Remember the famous Starlink corn that found its way into corn chips and caused a huge uproar? Why is the whole GMO debate so intense? After all, GMOs help farmers grow more food (supposedly), farm more acreage (definitely), and use less labor (absolutely true).  Ironically, not a single GMO has been developed to increase nutritional content in crops being grown.

GMOs are developed by chemical companies who profit from selling the seeds that are Genetically Modified and also the chemical they are resistant to. There are two primary types of GMOs on the market: those that are resistant to herbicides (the most popular herbicide is Round Up or Glyphosphate) and those that actually have a pesticide placed in the plant (Bt or bacillus theringensis is pretty common). And, of course, there is the combination of both.

In America we spend approximately 15% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care. Americans don’t live as long as other “developed” nations like Japan, England and Switzerland who spend upwards of 8% of their GDP on health care. We have a higher infant mortality rate as well. And if you factor in that about 30% of our population is obese, one could conclude that Americans spend a lot of money on health and don’t get very good results!

So what is the rub? I think America’s health problems are directly associated with its food and farm policies.  Presently, I believe Americans are a part of a large experiment. The USDA wrongly assumes that just because GMO corn or soybeans look like non-GMO corn and soybeans everything is okay! Of course, the chemical companies developing these products control the testing and the reporting. And to no one’s surprise, all is well and a few of us radical organic environmental types are out to lunch.

There is no way on earth that any corn or soybean is ever going to naturally become a pesticide or herbicide host. It is against the laws of nature! Sure some seeds may be able to tolerate an herbicide application, but there is no way that an application of an herbicide transfers into the seed and becomes a part of its DNA. That only happens in a laboratory. Hence, the name Frankenfoods. Sadly, GMOs are in the mainstream food supply and Americans are now a part of the experiment that will take a few generations to tabulate the results.  However, I believe we are beginning to see the results in our nation’s health now.

The only solution to stop this foolishness and this human experiment is labeling. Every person should have the right to full and honest disclosure about how their food is grown. Has it been irradiated (I’ll save this topic for another newsletter) or has it been corrupted by a GMO? If 5% of Americans, about 15 million consumers, would stop buying foods that have GMO ingredients in them, these multinational companies would take notice and respond to the consumers. Why? For the simple reason that these companies are driven by profits, and diminishing sales speak loudly!

Thankfully, vegetables and fruits are easier than processed boxed foods, since most of the GMOs have been developed for corn, soy, cotton and canola. Read your labels carefully and only buy those foods that are organic or non-GMO certified.