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Effects Of Genetically Modified Foods

Updated on November 26, 2010

Becoming Commonplace

Cultivated Genetically Modified Foods are becoming commonplace in our society. It has been estimated 60 to 70% of the processed foods in the United States are genetically modified.

Scientists are introducing genetic material into living plants to alter, create or affect changes. These changes may produce specific, desirable traits that might never evolve naturally. Some groups have raised objections to this practice considering the alterations could be extremely dangerous.

For example, a Japanese company paid out a $2 billion dollar settlement to several thousand American citizens who became ill from a genetically modified version of L-Tryptophan³. Several dozen Americans died from it.

In 1996, animal tests proved there was a threat of severe allergic reactions from genes spliced from Brazil nuts and soybeans. The danger was so severe individuals could suffer anaphylactic shock and possible death.

Genetic Manipulation

This application is commonly referred to as “recombinant DNA technology.” It changes the genetic make-up of organisms. This genetic manipulation enables scientists to create virtually any trait they want, or do away with those they don’t.

Objections to this practice have been voiced because consumers can’t tell which products have been genetically altered and long term health concerns haven’t been addressed adequately. In addition, plans are being made to charge farmers to raise their genetically altered crops.

A few of genetically modified crops being grown today are corn, potatoes, squash, tomatoes and sugar cane…all staples in the American diet. Other crops include peppers, soy beans, strawberries and cocoa beans. And more are rapidly being added to this list.

Bio-chemical Industry

The bio-chemical industry is going after two crops in particular… corn and soy. There is a huge demand for them throughout our processed goods and bio-fuel industries. If they succeed in controlling these crops it would mean enormous profits… and by patenting them they would in effect own them. In the meantime, producers are not required to put the fact products have been altered on food labels. Apparently government officials believe they know better than the public what is good for them.

Some processed foods made with genetically modified organisms are popcorn, frozen pizza, canned soup, cereal and artificial sweeteners. These products don't need to be labeled unless the product presents a risk of causing allergic reactions in humans.

It all began with the “Frankenstein” tomato. By 1994 the government had granted approval for it because it did so well in testing. Therefore, in their infinite wisdom, the government decided no further testing would be needed before allowing it to be marketed. Later, the FDA concealed information pertaining to laboratory mice developing stomach lesions. It revealed 7 out 40 tested died within 2 weeks. No reason was ever given.

"Technology Protection," is how it’s referred to. In actuality, the term is highly misleading because it produces plants with sterile seeds after only one season. Why? It means, farmers would have to buy more seeds for the next crop.

"Traitor" technology is used to develop characteristics which remain dormant in crops, unless sprayed with a specific chemical compound. The chemical compound activates the desired traits meaning farmers would also have to buy it as well. Some biochemical companies are even requiring farmers to sign an agreement not to save any of their seeds for replanting. So, they’re forced to buy more. What’s behind all of this? Obviously, it’s money and greed.

Who’s making the money? The USDA, Monsanto and the AstraZeneca people are a few who are profiting. First, money is made on gene modification. Secondly, they profit again because farmers have to pay annually to grow their crops. Apparently, no concern for human protection is involved. The USDA unabashedly does business with Monsanto, owning some of the genetic technology patents.

Some genetically modified foods have been proven to be harmful to human physiology. One study conducted in the Philippines, revealed a resistance to antibiotics such as ampicillin was developed. It’s safe to conclude not enough testing was done.

The question now becomes how consumers can protect themselves. At present the only alternative which seems plausible is to eat only naturally produced food. Local farmers’ markets usually are a good place to obtain them. Better yet, you might consider purchasing only organically grown fruits and vegetables. They are grown without genetic modification and toxic herbicides.

It’s also advisable to only buy organic popcorn and corn. They are often genetically modified. And when buying meat or dairy products be sure to look for hormone and antibiotic-free, organic, range fed information on labels.

Other things to avoid are canola and cottonseed oils. Instead, look for organic sources of grape seed, olive, hempseed and virgin coconut oils. Most are readily available at organic and whole foods markets.


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