A closer look at GMO

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, October 29, 2011

I read recently that Monsanto’s GMO corn is making it’s way to our mainstream grocery markets. This really disturbed me.

If any of you are unfamiliar with GMO, it is genetically modified food, that has cells of other animals introduced to it and in some cases is designed to kill insects. If a food can kill an insect, what do you think it can do to a human over time?

It makes no sense to me why this is allowed in our food industry. Here are some questions and facts about GM Foods.

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1. Hasn’t research shown GM foods to be safe? No. The only feeding study done with humans showed that GMOs survived inside the stomach of the people eating GMO food. No follow-up studies were done.

Various feeding studies in animals have resulted in things like potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, damaged immune systems, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partial atrophy or increased density of the liver, odd shaped cell nuclei, false pregnancies and higher death rates.

2. But aren’t the plants chemically the same, whether or not they are GM? Most tests can’t determine the differences at the level of the DNA. And, even if they appear to be the same, eyewitness reports from all over North American describe how several types of animals, when given a choice, avoid eating GM foods.

3. Haven’t people been eating GM foods without any ill effect? The biotech industry says that millions have been eating GM foods without ill effect. This is misleading. No one monitors human health impacts of GM foods. If the foods were creating health problems in the population, it might take years or decades before we identified the cause.

4. What indications are there that GM foods are causing problems? Soon after GM soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50 percent.

In March 2001, the Center for Disease Control reported that food is responsible for twice the number of illnesses in the U.S. compared to estimates just seven years earlier.

This increase roughly corresponds to the period when Americans have been eating GM food. Without follow-up tests, which neither the industry or government are doing, we can’t be absolutely sure if genetic engineering was the cause.

5. What about GM hormones in milk? Milk from rbGH-treated cows contains an increased amount of the hormone IGF-1, which is one of the highest risk factors associated with breast and prostate cancer, but no one is tracking this in relation to cancer rates.

6. Why do genetically engineered foods have antibiotic resistant genes in them? The techniques used to transfer genes have a very low success rate, so the genetic engineers attach “marker genes” that are resistant to antibiotics to help them to find out which cells have taken up the new DNA.

That way scientist can then douse the experimental GMO in antibiotics and if it lives, they have successful altered the genes.

The marker genes are resistant to antibiotics that are commonly used in human and veterinary medicine. Some scientists believe that eating GE food containing these marker genes could encourage gut bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance.

7. But is there any documented instance of adverse effects of GMOs on people? One epidemic was rare, serious and fast acting, and therefore more easily discovered. Called EMS, it was traced to a GM brand of the food supplement L-tryptophan. In the 1980’s, the contaminated brand killed about 100 Americans and caused sickness or disability in about 5,000-10,000 others.

8. Why are children particularly susceptible to the effects of GM foods? Children face the greatest risk from the potential dangers of GM foods. Children are more susceptible to allergies; children are more susceptible to problems with milk; children are more susceptible to nutritional problems; children are in danger from antibiotic resistant diseases.

 Farmers’ Market moves indoors

The Market is now open for our winter season, starting this Thursday, indoors at the Oak Park Mall. Hours are from 4 to 7 p.m. EBT and credit cards accepted.