Saturday, November 3, 2012

Genetically Modified Foods

Based on information compiled by the Label GMOs Grassroots Committee, the following are facts we all need to keep in mind to protect our health and to make informed political decisions:
GMO Fact #1
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are laboratory creations of agricultural biotechnology engineered by forcing DNA from a foreign species into plants or animals. This foreign DNA may be from a virus, bacteria such as E. coli, insects, animals or humans, resulting in traits that would not occur naturally.
Upwards of 70 percent of supermarket foods in the U.S. contain GMOs. While 50 other countries including the entire European Union require labeling of GMOs, the U.S. does not.
GMO Fact #2
Animal studies have shown GMOs cause infertility, accelerated aging, dysfunctional insulin regulation, changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system, and immune problems such as asthma, allergies, and inflammation. As a result of these studies, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has called for a moratorium on GMOs. The FDA's own scientists warned that GMOs have serious health hazards, but no safety studies are required. Europe has rejected GMOs due to health effects.
GMO Fact #3
GM food poses higher risks for children - In feeding studies, adolescent rats showed damaged immune systems and digestive function; smaller brains, livers, and testicles; atrophy of the liver; and pre-cancerous cell growth in the intestines after only 10 days of GM feed. One study showed that offspring of rats fed GM soy died within three weeks. Bt toxin, a pesticide that has been engineered into GM corn, has been found in the placenta of pregnant women and and in fetuses. In newborns, since the blood-brain barrier is not yet developed, scientists speculate these toxins may enter the brain and cause serious cognitive problems such ADHD and autism.
GMO Fact #4
Agricultural bio-tech companies have undue influence on government institutions that are supposed to regulate them to protect public health. Many former Monsanto executives are now in the FDA and USDA. Michael Taylor, former VP and attorney for the biggest GMO company, Monsanto, is now the Deputy Commissioner at the FDA. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a former Monsanto attorney. Agritech companies give generous campaign contributions and use heavy lobbying to politicians. The FDA has chosen to disregard strong warnings of its own scientists and allowed GMOs in our food supply without any health studies or even labeling.
GMO Fact#5
GMOs offer no benefits to consumers or farmers . GMOs do not provide higher yields, are not more drought tolerant than conventional crops, are less nutritious, and do not taste better. Many GM crops are created to increase tolerance to herbicides, which encourages more herbicide use and increases agritech profits. Because GM plants are engineered to produce sterile seed, farmers must purchase new seed every year. Farmers who do not use GM seed and whose fields become contaminated by GMOs have lost their livelihood due to lawsuits from agritech companies.
GMO Fact #6
Overuse of herbicide on GM crops has led to super-weeds that require super-toxic herbicides, increased incidence of deadly plant diseases, degradation of the soil, and pollution of waterways.
GMO Fact #7
GMOs are widespread in our food supply. U.S. supermarkets sell products containing unlabeled ingredients from genetically engineered soybeans, sugar beets, corn, canola and cottonseed. Genetically engineered Hawaiian papaya, zucchini and crook neck squash are also sold in the U.S. The bovine growth hormone rBGH is genetically engineered. Livestock are routinely raised on feed containing GM soy, corn and cottonseed. The FDA has recently deregulated GM alfalfa, a common feed crop for dairy cattle. The FDA is weighing approval of GM salmon and a variety of other foods.
GMO Fact #8
GMOs could be contributing to the increases seen in childhood food allergies, asthma and autism, which have risen dramatically over the past 15 years since GMOs were introduced. The process of creating GMOs can increase levels of existing allergens, or introduce new allergens. GMO animal feeding studies show immune dysregulation, which is associated with asthma. The pesticide Bt from GM corn has been found in the bloodstream of women and fetuses; pesticides are linked to Autism via their potential to affect changes in the fetal brain.
GMO Fact #9
GMOs can be avoided by using the Non-GMO Shopping Guide or choosing organic foods. The most at-risk ingredients are corn, soy, cottonseed and canola. The guide available at nongmoshoppingguide.com tells how to avoid hidden GM ingredients, e.g. lecithin, modified food starch and high fructose corn syrup. Certified organic products cannot intentionally contain any genetically engineered ingredients.
GMO Fact #10
You can make a difference! Here are action steps recommended by Karen Hudson, Sonoma County Coordinator of Label GMOs Grassroots Committee encourages everyone to do:
*Contact carighttoknow.org to endorse, donate, volunteer, and get more information.
*Watch "Future of Food," "The World According to Monsanto" or
*See Jeffrey Smith's new video "Genetic Roulette."
*Check out Nutiva's 2 min. video on YouTube: "What is a GMO?".
*Forward this article to everyone in your network.

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