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GMO's: What are they and how do they affect us?
A brief description
GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms), relate to several different food products. First, there are the genetically modified seeds, engineered for larger crop yields but also containing higher pesticide levels. The engineering causes the crops to retain more of the pesticides sprayed on them to lessen the chances of damage from bug infestations. These enter our systems and can easily make you ill if you ingest a large amount. Before you say "how could I possibly eat enough of these to make me ill?", we'll examine how many foods actually contain high levels of pesticides and the relationship to GMO engineering.
The second type of GMO enhanced product is livestock. For many years we've been hearing about BGH, or Bovine Growth Hormone, fed to cattle to enhance the meat and milk yields. Again, an engineering designed not to help us, but to bolster profits of corporate giants like Monsanto and other food "providers". Over the last decade, we can see the outcome of BGH in our milk and meat intakes. Children are maturing much earlier, with mature body characteristics, both male and female, well before the age of 15 (teen pregnancy, anyone?). All sorts of animals raised for food purposes are engineered to lend to profitability. Cattle are raised to yield human mother's milk. Fisheries raise trout and other seafood to yield 3 times the food content. These are the GMO products we never hear of. And yet, they are part of a greater scheme to raise corporate profits under the guise of feeding the world.
What are the worst GMO foods?
According to the site realfarmacy.com, the top ten worst GMO offenders are, and this may surprise you, corn, soy (it's in almost every prepared food you buy), sugar, Aspartame (fake sugar), papayas, canola, cotton (yep, in your clothes too), dairy and yellow and Zucchini squash. Shocked? You should be. You should also be enraged at realizing that you are feeding this to your family without knowing.
But, why don't you know? Aren't these products labeled as containing GMO components? Unfortunately, government agencies do not require labeling of products containing GMO's. That's right.........no one has to tell you. Anyone heard of kickbacks? And the corporate run media tell us that it is up to the grocery stores to label the products as containing GMO ingredients. Ummmm, hello! The stores are not the ones packaging the products. The labels should be affixed to that product before they are loaded onto the trucks that bring them to the stores, right? The best stores can do is to separate GMO from non-GMO products so they are easily recognizable by their customers. But, as consumers, we should educate ourselves to separate the chaff from the wheat (pun intended).
How do we know one from the other?
This is a difficult question, since there is no labeling requirement for GMO products. The list of the top ten above will help somewhat. However, many developers are now releasing smartphone apps that will help you recognize not only if a product contains GMO based ingredients, but the level of content as well. I personally just added an app called "EWG's Food Scores" which will tell you how high a level of GMO is in the product you're about to toss into your shopping cart. How? Simply by turning your phone into a UPC scanner and then searching the records for that product. The result is a 1-10 scale that lets you see the degree of GMO content. The higher the number, the less you should ingest. Better yet, put it back on the shelf and find one with lower content. There's a screen shot of the app below.
What do we do about it?
Without controls of labeling these products, we can only rely on our own research, which, quite honestly, can be a pain in the rump roast. So what can we do to change the situation? The majority of European countries have outlawed GMO products altogether. They did it by exerting pressure on the powers that be. It's not an easy task, and it requires a lot of people to do what's necessary. It's worth a few minutes of your time because it will keep your family healthier in the long run (some GMO's have been linked to several types of cancers). We need to not just write to, but, inundate our Congressional representatives in both houses, with demands to take their hands out of the corporate food coffers and legislate better labeling laws that are skewed toward the people, not the conglomerates. Better yet, outlaw them as the Europeans have done. The more of us that do this, the better the chances of getting something done. Don't be afraid to tell them that the next time they are up for election, their voting record will come into question. In fact, I'll even save you the trouble of having to come up with the wording yourselves. Below, I'll post a form letter that you can copy and paste into your email (or write into your snail mail, if that's how you want to do it). If we all act on this, we just might be able to make things better for all of us. The ball is in our court, and it's time for a full court press!
Here's your Congressional template
Use this template to make your Congresspeople understand
Copy and paste this into an email to all of your representatives in both houses of Congress.
To The Honorable (Congressman) (Senator) (Full Name)
I am writing to you with my concern about the use of GMO products that are flooding our grocery shelves. In the last 2 years, nearly all of European countries have outlawed products containing GMO's, and I feel that our country should be looking toward a similar direction. I believe that the welfare of the American people is more important than the profitability of giant conglomerates. I am a voting citizen, and I will vote accordingly in the next election, based on your record on this issue. Please don't just consider this; make it a reality before it becomes an epidemic health issue for our people.
(your name here)
(your city and state here)