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Tag: Prop 37

GMO Labeling Efforts: What Now?

With the election now behind us, it is a bummer to see that Prop 37, the proposal which would have required Genetically Modified foods to be labeled as such, failed in gmos

It’s not surprising that this grass-roots-led effort failed, as corporate interests spent $45-50 million dollars to defeat it. Who had these deep pockets and the desire to keep consumers in the dark about what they are eating because GMO labeling might cut into their profits or require them to re-think how they source their ingredients? Let’s name some names: Monsanto, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, General Mills, DuPont, Bayer and other food and pesticide companies.

The best thing that came out of the Prop 37 fight is the rise in consumer awareness about what are GMOs and why we might want to have the choice to eat them or not. Too  many of us now know the dangers and can choose to opt ourselves out of this massive experiment with the public health by trying to avoid GM contamination in conventional corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, zucchini, and yellow squash. Since these crops have almost 90% or higher saturation of GM seeds, and almost everything you see that contains these products or their derivatives will be Genetically Modified, these items should form the core of you “Always Buy Organic” shopping list.
Watch out for the hidden GM sources in packaged foods like high fructose corn syrup, Aspartame, and animal products from animals fed GM feed.

What can we do now to continue to work for at least labeling of GMOs?

We can encourage President Obama to replace the current head of the FDA, Michael Taylor, formerly of Monsanto, with someone less corporate-friendly without ties to Monsanto and their GMO-interests, and more concerned with the public health.
And we can continue to vote with our dollars by choosing non-GMO foods over GM foods.

What is a GMO?

Today I’m in California to speak about health and nutrition at a symposium on neuromyelitis optica (NMO) hosted by the Guthy-Jackson Foundation. NMO is a rare disease that is often mis-diagnosed as MS, and as always, my emphasis is on eating real, clean whole foods rather than processed, polluted, or otherwise modified foods. What has really surprised me here in California is how many are still clueless about what a GMO actually is and why we might want labeling so that we can have the freedom to choose to eat them or not.

Genetic modification of foods today is not the cross-polination of seeds as initiated by Gregor Mendel back in the 1300s. Of course, modern agriculture continues to breed and hybridize crops to bring out desired traits through natural cross-polination of strains of the same plant, like Gregor’s peas.

Gregor could never have predicted the kind of genetic tinkering going on on our food supply today.

The kind of genetic modifications going on today by chemical giants like Monsanto involve splicing DNA strands from insects and inserting this DNA into food crops like corn and soybeans to make them more resistant to pests in the fields. GMO corn, for example, is designed to explode the stomachs of bugs when they eat it.

Monsanto designs this corn to additionally be resistant to their “Round-Up” herbicide, so that spraying Round-Up will kill any weeds but not the corn plant.

It’s a profitable business model for Monsanto as they own the patents for the GMO seeds and the special weed-killer that goes with it. The GMO corn that grows from these seeds is itself non-propegating (sterile), so the farmer can’t save seeds to grow next season but will have to purchase new GMO seeds again and again.

Forget the profit motive for a moment and lets look at the effect on humans and other mammals who eat this modified corn.

In 1996, when the FDA approved GMOs for planting in the US, the only research on safety in humans presented was from Monsanto’s own scientists. Twenty years later independent research is showing that GMOs cause tumors and infertility in rodents. Animals raised industrially for food – cattle, pigs, chickens – and fed GMO grains are sicker and requiring more antibiotics than ever before.

It seems that while we know how to turn ON a gene on a DNA strand, we don’t know how to turn it OFF after the plant is done growing and harvested for food. When we eat that GMO plant, or eat the flesh, milk, or eggs from an animal that ate GMOs, we bring that activated insect DNA into our bodies. Designed to explode the stomachs of bugs, it can have the same effect on the cells in our stomachs.

The last 20 years have seen an alarming rise in autoimmune disorders, heart conditions, GERD/acid reflux, obesity, diabetes and other issues related to impaired digestion and “leaky guts”.

Even if you choose to ignore the science showing that GMO crops are harmful to humans, animals, and the environment, the key concept here is choice. Right now, we don’t have a choice in whether or not we want to eat genetically modified foods because they are not required to be labeled as such. With 88% of corn and 94% of soybeans in the US now GMO corn and GMO soy, you must assume every corn or soy food you come across is genetically modified and also every packaged food that contains a corn- or soy-based additive like high fructose corn syrup or soy lethicin contains concentrated GMO DNA.

You don’t need to wait for “more research” to opt out of this massive experiment on the public health. Look for the Non-GMO Project seal on packaged goods. Buy organic products and vote for the organic industry with your dollars.  If you are in California, vote YES on Prop 37, as a first step toward nationwide GMO labeling requirements. When the chemical company-funded television ads say that Prop 37 is “unbalanced” because it only calls for labeling “certain foods,” you can understand that those “certain foods” are GMOs; if the food is not GMO, it does not have to be labeled as such!

Besides, if GMOs are so great and great for us, why don’t they want to shout it out that these are “GMO products” and use that in their marketing strategies?

The Non-GMO Project and GMO Labeling

The Environmental Working Group estimates that the average American now consumes more than his or her own body weight in Genetically Modified foods (GMOs) – 193 lbs. – every year. Since the EWG only took into account corn, soybean oil, and sugar beet consumption and there are many other GMO crops infiltrating our food supply, this is probably a low-ball estimate of how much exposure to GMOs we are actually getting as unwitting subjects in this massive biochemical experiment on the public health.the non gmo project

Because GMOs are not required to be labeled, much of the food you are eating regularly likely contains GMO ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or corn in any form. Since more than 88% of our corn is now GMO corn, we have to assume that most corn-based foods and additives are GMOs unless otherwise labeled.

Not only are GMO foods messing with our bodies and those of our future descendents, but they are wreaking havoc on the environment. According to the EWG’s report on GMOs: “The evidence of environmental harm of GE crops and associated pesticides is compelling. The planting of GE crops has increased overall pesticide use by more than 300 million pounds and has led to the proliferation of pesticide-resistant superweeds and superbugs.”

Right now, the Non-GMO Project is the only way short of organic that you can be sure that the food you are eating is not a genetically modified chemistry experiment with long-term effects on your body. The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit that offers the only third-party verification seal on products not using GMOs. Look for their seal on products at the grocery store to be sure you are keeping your family safe.

If you need any other reasons why it’s important to label GMO foods, watch “Genetic Roulette,” a compelling documentary about GMOs in America. Right now, GMO labeling is on the ballot in California, so if you live in California be sure to vote YES on Prop 37 and help labeling laws spread across the land to allow each of us to protect ourselves and opt out of the experiment.