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|The Other Failing GM
|What I Choose to Buy at the
Co-op ... and Why
A series of monthly articles by members of our Nutrition &
|by Louise Maher-Johnson
|It's time to revisit
transgenic, aka genetically modified or engineered food, from GMOs,
Genetically Modified Organisms. The other GM, prosperous but failing in
health, with great PR but no brand or label.
are still in our industrial food supply and are being hugely subsidized
by our tax dollars through the Farm Bill-- and are still being rubber
stamped by our government with only industry, efficacybased science,
i.e., without independent, peered reviewed, health-based research.
And we are still eating GM food in omnipresent high fructose corn
syrup; in meat, milk, eggs, cheese, and yogurt from animals fed
non-organic grains; in cooking oils made from corn, cotton seed,
canola, and or soy (unless labeled otherwise); in soy products,
including omnipresent lecithin and also vegetable proteins. In corn
flours, starches, even in vitamins C and E, when soy or corn based. And
in sugar beets, summer squash, Hawaiian papaya. Under development:
apples and bananas. Just approved: a plum variety (www.CenterforFoodSafety.org).
And, yes, each GM crop still carries (in every cell, from seed to
harvest and on to human ingestion) an antibiotic resistant gene, a
virus gene that breaks into the cell wall, and the gene expressing
either resistance to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide so the plant can
sustain lots of this toxin, or a pesticide-producing gene that is
turned on 24/7 for the life of the plant. "The foreign genes could
cause mutations to the host genes resulting in toxins or allergens…
Proper studies have never been done" (Consumers Union scientist M.
Hansen, Non GMO, May 2009).
Research = Bad News for GMOs
research in the USA is almost non-existent. Corporate funding feeds
university research and harassment of scientists is a given. A Cornell
scientist whose research demonstrated GM corn's negative effect on
Monarch butterflies and a Berkeley scientist whose study disclosed the
contamination of heritage corn in Mexico by GM corn had their careers
threatened. Both have been since vindicated.
An Australian scientist currently conducting long term safety research
on GM foods spoke recently of being strongly harassed, and also said,
"Independent research is finally being done and is showing adverse
affects. There's been an avalanche of bad news for the GM industry
lately" (Non-GMO, Dec.–Jan. 2009). Recent studies include an
Environmental Health report that mercury was found in nearly 50% of
tested samples of commercial HFCS. A separate study by the Institute
for Agriculture and Trade Policy detected mercury in nearly one-third
of 55 popular brand name products with HFCS as the first or second
leading ingredient, including Quaker, Hersey's, Kraft and Smuckers
(www.iatp.org; Acres March 2009; Grist).
An Argentine study, just released, links Monsanto's herbicide, Roundup,
to brain, intestinal and heart defects in fetuses (OCA, April 29).
Others include an Austrian study found that mice fed GM corn had
reduced fertility. This study replicates results in a Russian study
several years ago. An Italian study concluded that GM corn disturbed
the immune system of mice (Non-GMO, Dec.–Jan. 2009), while an Indian
study found that GM crops have negative impacts on beneficial soil
bacteria (NonGMO, May 2009).
Research conducted in Africa by the ICIPE in conjunction with the
French IRD has demonstrated that bees can visit flowers as far as 3.7
miles from their nest. GM pollen can therefore cross-pollinate for
miles (Non GMO, Nov. 2008).
Beets, Competition for HFCS?
sugar beets were grown and harvested for the first time in the U.S. in
2008. According to industry estimates, about 60% of the sugar beets
grown last year were GM. And 90–95% of the 2009 crop could be GM. There
is a current lawsuit to stop the planting of GM beets due to the
possible cross pollination between GM sugar beets and plants of the
same species, such as chard and table beets (Non GMO, Feb. 2009).
It's feasible that this two year rush to corner the sugar beet market
is related to increasing health concerns with the HFCS market. The
plethora of TV ads about how natural and nutritious HFCS is, could be a
symptom of industry concern.
Animals and Drugs
FDA has approved a goat genetically engineered to produce milk, as well
as ork with mouse gene to help metabolize phosphorous and salmon with
genes from other fish species to double the growth rate (Acres, May
The FDA has announced that no labeling of products from GE animal
(meat, fish or milk) is required, but they do recommend a label when a
new health claim is made or the animal has a different nutritional
profile. Center for Food Safety scientist J. Hanson responded: "We
would say that an animal that's got a gene that wasn't in it before has
got a different nutritional profile." Consumers' Union scientist M.
Hansen is concerned that the FDA is blatantly ignoring consumers' right
to choose what they eat (Non GMO, Feb. 2009).
That's some of the news from the nether world of GM. Be careful.
USA, The Organic and Non-GMO Report, Organic Consumers Association, GM
Watch, Grist, Center for Food Safety.
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