What do You Know about GMOs?

Posted on September 5th, 2012 by Gavin | Posted in Notes & News

We need adequate research that proves GMOs are totally safe for humans and other animals to consume, and safe for our environment, before we will feel comfortable having them in our food. Until this happens we would like to see all GMO foods phased out of our food system. In order to achieve this we would need to educate consumers about GMOs. It would be valuable to have all GMO foods labeled so we as consumers can choose. Until then, we can purchase products we know to be GMO free, either because the product doesn’t include ingredients that may be GMO or is Non-GMO certified.

GMOs (or Genetically Modified Organisms) are plants or animals created through gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (aka genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding or hybridization in which two different strains of a plant or similar types of animals are cross-pollinated or cross-bred to produce a hybrid. 1

There are just a few crops that are in wide use making up the bulk of the GMO problem. At least 93% of the sugar beets, soybeans, canola/ rapeseed and cottonseed oil, 80% of corn, Hawaiian papaya and 13% of summer and zucchini squash crops grown in the US are GMO.

Only some varieties of corn have been genetically modified. Until very recently sweet corn or corn on the cob has been clean. GMO sweet corn just received FDA approval this summer. Popcorn has not yet been genetically engineered. There are other GMO crops in lesser production, such as tomatoes, golden rice, sweet peppers, flax, sugarcane and alfalfa. Also, GMO micro-organisms are routinely used to convert starch to simple sugar, clot milk protein for cheese making and improve fruit juice clarity. 2

In 1953 Watson and Crick published their discovery of DNA which led scientists to identify and splice genes from one kind of organism into the DNA of another. In 1992 the first GMO food was introduced into the market. The public, once they realized the potential for unknown consequences, rejected the “Flavr-Savr Tomato” and production halted. That same year the FDA, based upon information provided by the creators of the GMOs, declared that genetically engineered food is “not inherently dangerous” and does not require regulation. In 2000 the International Biosafety Protocol, which agrees upon labeling of GMO crops was approved by 130 countries. The US has yet to ratify the agreement. 3

Canola, which easily crosspollinates with other brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, kale and cabbage was deregulated in 2012 for planting in some parts of our Willamette Valley. No distinction was made between GMO canola and traditional canola. A temporary halt was ordered on August 17th due to public outcry. 4

There could be great value from some crops that might be genetically altered. The ideas sound positively remarkable: drought resistant crops, rice that provides extra high levels of vitamins, tomatoes that stay firm longer after being picked ripe and full of flavor, pork that’s low in cholesterol. But the fact is that to date all genetic engineering of common food crops benefits not the nutritional content of the food, but the ability of the food crop to tolerate increased amounts of directly applied pesticides and herbicides to make the crops easier for the farmers to grow. 1, 7

Wow. Type ‘Dangers of GMO foods’ into your browser and there are A LOT of articles that come up. One of the inherently frightening things about GMOs is this: Once a gene has been inserted into a DNA strand, it will remain in the genetics of that strand through generations to come. Genetic splicing isn’t like hybridization. GMO is irreversible.

Concerns about GMO foods extend to eating meat and dairy products from animals fed GMO corn, soy and alfalfa, regularly fed to livestock not certified organic or pasture raised. There are issues with lower birth weights, birth defects, allergic reactions and other health issues being observed with increased frequency in those animals. 5, 6

The effects on humans of consuming these new combinations of proteins produced in GMOs are little known and have not been well studied. A few studies have linked GMO consumption to illnesses in humans such as allergies, ADD, ADHD and Crones’s disease.8. And therein lays the primary danger. We really don’t know. We are being used as test animals. Remember DDT? Asbestos? Trans fats?

In North America, about 80% of our food contains GMOs. There are only a few crops that are GMO, but they are so prevalent in our food supply that they show up in most of our food. If you want to avoid eating foods that contain GMOs, do your homework and know what products and ingredients may contain GMOs. If a food does not contain soy, corn, cottonseed oil, canola, sugar beets, Hawaiian papayas or summer squash then it may be GMO free. There are many ‘hidden ingredients’ that may contain GMOs, such as vegetable oil, natural flavorings, citric acid (made from corn), lecithin (made from soy) and others.

Eating 100% organic foods is a great way to avoid GMOs, as GMOs are not allowed in the growing or production of certified organic products. When buying foods that include susceptible ingredients such as soy or corn look for products that are certified GMO free. The Non-GMO Project label is one you can trust.

Cooking your own food from scratch allows you to choose your ingredients to be Non- GMO. Buying your food from stores like ours supports you in choosing the right ingredients. Although it’s always best to do your own homework, LifeSource staff can advise you about what products are GMO free. You can grow your own GMO free food by using organic seeds and starts. You can buy locally grown foods and hopefully get accurate information from the farmer or sales person about if the products are GMO free.

There is a large controversy going on right now about mandatory labeling of foods containing GMOs. Many times, laws have been proposed to mandate labeling GMO foods. Each time these laws have not been approved. The large companies that are heavily invested in GMOs spend huge amounts of money opposing efforts to pass mandatory labeling laws. They know that many people wouldn’t buy their food if they knew it contained GMOs. They want this information kept secret. When asked, 90% of people surveyed say they want to know what is in their food.

We believe that GMO foods are a major change to food as we know it, and that GMO foods have not been adequately tested for safety. It’s unethical to put an experimental technology into our food. We expect our government to protect us but in this case that’s not happening. Often the decision makers working for the FDA and the Dept. of Ag. have close ties to the corporations that own the patents and sell these GMO products. 7

An estimated 50 countries require labels on GMOs, and many of these also have severe restrictions or bans against GMO food production. All countries in the European Union require labeling. The U.S. and Canada are among the few industrialized nations without GMO labeling requirements. 8

LifeSource Position and Policy

LifeSource would like to see GMOs eliminated from our food supply until they are proven safe. To this end we’ve instituted a moratorium on new products that might have GMO ingredients. If the manufacturer can prove that their ingredients are clean, then we may bring it in. We instituted this moratorium as a strategy to encourage producers to carefully source their ingredients and to test and certify their products as GMO free. If enough of us decide to not use GMO ingredients, this will discourage farmers from growing them and seed suppliers from developing them. We are doing this in conjunction with many other natural food stores, so we expect our efforts to be recognized.

We label foods certified by the Non-GMO Project with shelf tags so you can make informed decisions about what you buy and again send a message to manufacturers about what you want.

This doesn’t mean all of our products are GMO free. We’ve grandfathered in many foods. It’s our hope that over time most manufacturers will choose to use Non-GMO ingredients and get their products certified. As that happens we will discontinue products with questionable ingredients and replace them with ones we know are GMO free. 7

What You Can Do

  • GMO Apples have been presented to the FDA for approval. The proposal is RIGHT NOW, until September 11th, open for public comment. 9
  • Write your government representatives and tell them to vote against any legislation promoting or allowing GMOs, to support GMO labeling. We’ve got pre-addressed postcards for you to write your message. You write, we’ll mail. They’re at our Information Center, next to the samples.
  • Boycott products that may contain GMOs. The impact of our purchases is what the manufacturers hear the loudest.
  • Encourage your friends and family to avoid GMOs.
  • Contribute to the GMO labeling initiative in California.

Comments

Francoise and Gary McCuen

Comment left on: April 23rd, 2013 at 6:40 am

Thanks to Alex and the whole staff at LifeSource, you are our lifeline! Francoise and Gary

Gavin

Comment left on: April 23rd, 2013 at 9:52 am

Our pleasure!! Your ours, too. Thanks for taking the time to say so! 🙂

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