Yogiraj Alberto Villoldo LA plastic bag ban
Awareness Magazine : Southern California's Guide to Conscious Living Awareness Mag on TwitterAwareness Mag on Facebook
 
Home Button
About Button
Mission Button
Current Issue Button
Library Button
Advertisors Button
Ad Rates Button
Calendar Button
Classifieds Button
Subscribe Button
Editorial Button
contact

Awareness Magazine
5753-G Santa Ana Canyon Rd. #582
Anaheim, CA 92807
(714) 283-3385
(800) 758-3223
(714) 283-3389 Fax

 

 

REFLEXIONS

By Robert Ross

on Genetically-Modified Food

 

“Controlling the seeds is not some abstraction. Whoever provides the world’s seeds controls the world’s food supply.”

   Bartlett and Steele, Vanity Fair

 

On May 25, 2013, more than two million people protested Monsanto Corporation for their practice of producing genetically-modified food. The protest was dubbed: The March Against Monsanto.

What started out as a Facebook musing by Tami Canal, on February 28, calling for a rally against the company’s practices, soon went viral. By protest day, in 52 countries and 436 cities, protestors were carrying signs and giving speeches calling for Monsanto to stop and examine its practices of genetically engineering the food supply.

At first glance, one could say: “What’s all the fuss?” After all, if you genetically modify seeds, apparently you have more food that’s easier and less costly to produce. This has to be good for the world’s growing population. And California, which is said to lead the nation in trends, even voted down, in their most recent election, the need to identify genetically-modified food. So, what’s the big deal?

The Big Deal

Before reading on, have a seat. The subject is a bit complicated, but once the pieces of the puzzle are put together, it’s clear, that genetically modifying food is: a big deal . . . a huge deal.

Genetically-modified food or genetic engineering (also called  GMO — genetically- modified organisms) occurs when you take one gene found in a species and force it into another species creating organisms that are unique to nature . . .  species that are no longer part of the evolutionary process.

Those that are opposed to GMOs are doing so primarily on grounds of health issues.

In the last 20 years, there has been a significant increase in inflammatory and chronic illnesses in the U.S. According to Dr. Robin Bernhoff, M.D. and past President of the Amer-ican Academy of Environmental Medicine, when discussing GM food he stated: “there is an increase in incidences, not just in reflux but also in allergies, autoimmunity, asthma, high cholesterol . . . a wide range of chronic illnesses.”  

Other credible sources point to GM foods to explain the increase incidences of diabetes, Celiac disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux, and Crohn’s disease.

What’s changed in the last 20 years? The most radical change in our food supply has been genetic engineering.

An example of this process is Bt corn, which was introduced in the 1990’s. The Bt bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis) is sprayed on crops to kill insects. Monsanto took the toxic gene from Bacillus thuringiensis and forced it into the corn seed so that every single cell in the corn plant produces a toxic protein. When the insect eats the corn, the toxin will break open the insect’s stomach and kill it.   

That corn, with the toxic protein in every cell, is more than likely in your local supermarket. Approximately 86 percent of corn produced in the U.S. is genetically engineered, i.e., has the toxic protein. Knowing that one is ingesting a lethal pesticide while eating Bt corn is disturbing, to say the least.

A study done in Norway (released in 2012) by www.Forskning.no, showed that animals fed genetically-engineered Bt corn ate more, got fatter, and were less able to digest proteins due to alterations in the micro-structure of their intestines. The impaired ability to digest proteins is of particular concern to scientists. If the body cannot digest proteins, it will be less able to produce amino acids, which are necessary building blocks for proper cell growth and function.

The Institute for Responsible Technology has examined research showing GM foods have a deleterious effect on test animals. For example: “Rats were fed Monsanto’s Mon 863 Bt corn for 90 days. They showed significant changes in their blood cells, livers and kidneys . . .”  Experts demanded a follow-up, but Monsanto used unscientific, contradictory arguments to dismiss concerns.    

The decline in the bee population has also been linked to GMOs. Apparently the evidence was so compelling that in 2012, Poland ruled that both MON810 (GM corn) and the chemicals applied to it are at least partially responsible for causing Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the worldwide phenomenon in which entire swarms of honey bees disappear or turn up dead. Poland, along with a handful of other EU countries, has completely banned the cultivation of GM crops.

In 2011, doctors at the Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood of 93 percent of pregnant women tested, 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies, and  67 percent of non-pregnant women.

The study authors speculated that the Bt-toxin was likely consumed in the normal diet of Canadians — which makes sense when you consider that genetically-engineered corn is present in the vast majority of all processed foods and drinks in the form of high fructose corn syrup. They also suggest that the toxin may have come from eating meat from animals fed Bt corn.

A similar story applies to soy products and other plant species.

The current list of plant species being genetically modified and grown in the U.S. are (2009/2010 data): canola/rapeseed (87%), corn (86%), cotton (93%), papaya (80%), soybeans (93%), squash (13%), sugar beet (95%), alfalfa, sugar cane, sweet peppers, potato, and wheat — all an unknown percent. Rice will be on the market in 2014/2015.

With much of the evidence pointing to the need to re-examine GMOs in our food supply, one would think that the government would step in and stop this practice before it’s too late. But, that’s not the case.

The marriage between agribusinesses and the government has been well documented with executives moving up the ranks of the corporate ladder only to find themselves in high positions at the FDA or USDA.

The government’s lack of concern or hands-off policy was first seen in 1992 when the following statement was issued by the FDA concerning GMOs: “The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way.”  That statement and philosophy still stands today.

Monsanto is well on its way to cornering the worldwide market on food and seeds. In the process they are becoming another “too-big-to-fail” corporate behemoth.

The evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, is convincing enough to call for a complete cessation of the creation, distribution and planting of GM seeds, until there is a thorough examination of all of the ramifications of this process.  

Hippocrates, ancient Greek “father of medicine” said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Let’s hope it’s not too late to get back to that philosophy!

Robert Ross can be reached by e-mail at: SanDiegoRoss@Yahoo.com

Copyright  2013 by Robert Ross, all rights reserved