Genetically Modified Organisms, the Past, Present, and Future
Genetically Modified Organisms and the D.A.R.K Bill
I would hope that as you are reading this article that you have some idea of what a GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) is. If you are just starting to wonder about what you are ingesting I starting with my first hub on genetically modified organisms, you can read it here.
There is a worldwide growing concern about genetically modified organisms, and over 60 countries have either partial bans and limitations or have banned the use of genetically modified organisms all together.
Here in the United States of America we have no such bans in place, though many individual states and cities are pushing for legislation to require labeling of genetically modified products. Currently most states are in the "DARK" as labeling is not required. There is current "Big Food" legislation called "DARK", an acronym for "Deny Americans Right To KNOW". The DARK bill if passed, will eliminate states and cities from being able to pass legislation to mandate that labeling of all genetically modified products be required.
In short I have a series of articles on GMOs, and a new GMO is scheduled to roll out in 2016. I personally feel that anything "altered" is un-natural and I would rather not ingest it nor have my children ingest it. I too, like so many others have spent most of my life in the DARK when it comes to GMOs and GE (genetically engineered) products. I hope to spread awareness and lend some light onto a very dark subject!
My reasoning is simple, there are no long term studies on the effects of genetically modified products on humans. Although there are absolutely documented cases where genetically modified organisms have effected the environment, with adverse side effects on livestock animals and even lab rats. In many cases the death of livestock animals were reported and over 1500 sheep have died due to ingesting GMO crops.
It is every human beings right to know what they are eating and feeding their families, and awareness is essential. I have been astonished at the comments on my other hubs, so many people just had no clue what "Genetically Modified" actually means!
Asking that these products be labeled should not be a big deal, should it? Currently the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires the labeling of over 3,000 natural and unnatural flavors and ingredients. So why then are we left in the DARK about the genetic modifications in our foods?
Charles Baudelaire said it best- "The devils finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist".
I am not using this in a biblical context (although there are some direct correlations that can be made from a biblical sense). Merely the fact that we have been kept in the "DARK" for 20 years (most of my lifetime) about Genetically Modified organisms and GE (genetically engineered) foods. With little to no research proving they are completely safe, and have no long term adverse effects on humans and the environment. Essentially leading us to believe any adverse effects are non existent simply because we have no tangible data and studies to support or deny them.
I am not a biotech chemist, a scientist, nor do I have a college degree. What I do have is the common sense to know that animal and insect secretions and feces (just a few examples) that are synthetically created in a lab, and fused with the DNA of a plant at a genetic level is in no way natural. If I would not go outside pick it up and eat it, then why is it being engineered in my foods?
The Center For Food Safety's goal is to protect our food, our farms and the environment. All these things go hand in hand. This is a great place to start if you want to learn about how to raise awareness in your city or state. They will also aid you in how to pursue legislation in your area to demand GMO labeling.
Floridians May Be Getting Genetically Modified Mosquitoes!
A GMO History Lesson
- DNA is first discovered in 1935 with a Russian scientist Andrei Nikolaevitch Belozersky isolating the first pure DNA strand.
- Fast forward to 1973 Herbert Boyer and Stanley N. Cohen create Recombinant DNA and idea from a grad student at Stanford University Medical School.
- Then in 1975 the Asilomar Conference is held. Lawyers, biologist, biochemists and doctors gathered to create safe guidelines for the uses of genetically engineered DNA.
- Let us then fast forward to 1980. This is the first year that a GMO patent was produced. This is done by a supreme court ruling of 5-4. This particular GMO is a modification of a bacterium engineered to have an appetite for crude oil. Focusing on aiding in spill clean ups.
- A few years later in 1982 the FDA gives its OK for the first GMO it will approve. This GMO has been modified with E.coli in order to produce Humulin.
- As we fast forward through time again we stop at 1994, the first GMO is available at the local market. Flavr Savr tomato was engineered to delay ripening for longer shelf lives.
- By 1996 the first GMO resistant weeds are discovered in Australia. A mere two years after the first GMO crop was available at market.
- In 1997 European Union rules for the mandatory labeling of GMO products. All GMO products are labeled including animal feeds after the ruling.
- By the year 1999 over 100 Million acres of farmland around the world are planted with GMO crops. With the general public welcoming GMO at an astonishing rate, even though there are no long term studies to show the safety of GMO products on humans.
- In 2003 GMO resistant pests are discovered. In a mere decade the pest have already adapted the the engineered bio-toxin these plants excrete for pest control.
- In 2010 the release of a small number of GE mosquitoes are released in the Cayman Islands takes place.
- 2011 is where things get really concerning (more so than before). As researchers in Quebec discover the presence of Bt toxins not only in the blood of pregnant woman, but in the fetuses as well.
- In 2015 the new GMO Arctic Apples get approval from the USDA.
- 2016 Arctic Apples will be available to consumers in test markets.
As you can see despite having knowledge of pest and weed resistance along with no knowledge or significant testing of the long term effects of GMOs they are increasing with popularity. The only way I can justify the general public allowing such an "unknown" item into our foods is ignorance. Please do not take offense, I too was ignorant about GMOs at one point too! Focusing on a path of self sustainable living through homesteading caused me to educate myself and learn as much as I can about farming and agriculture. A humongous part of farming these days is industrial or factory farming and GMOs. Both have seemingly adverse effects on the environment.
I may be a big girl, but healthy eating is important to me. Raising healthy crops is too.
I can see why GMOs were allowed patents and given rubber stamps in the beginning of it all. With all the documented adverse effects an
GMO Mosquitoes? Is Florida next?
Sadly since the inception of the GMOs we have been led to believe this was all in the interest of hunger and sustainability. Manipulating plants and animals in order to produce more and more to feed the ever growing population of the world. At some point this has turned into a monopoly on "factory and industrial farming" and a very lucrative industry.
In 2010 3.3 million genetically engineered mosquitoes were released in the Cayman islands. Malaysia and Brazil were also recipients of the GMO mosquitoes as well. Cayman islands did see a drop in the population of disease spreading mosquitoes. Although no reports of adverse effects to bites were reported- who would know to report a mosquito bite let alone think it was why they could have been sick?
While that is pretty far from where I am, I can't help but wonder if the general public was made aware of the release? While I did find an article from the New York Times from Oct of 2011 (you can read it here). What I did not find was much evidence that they followed up the "release" with any data or study of how they impacted the surrounding environment, wildlife, and human populations.
These mosquitoes were engineered to be what I will call "Family annihilators" This means they were engineered and altered to have their offspring die prior to adulthood (annihilating the family line if you will). While I could see the potential "goodness" if you will (no one likes a mosquito), what about the long term effects? What about the possible effects on ecosystems, bodies of water, livestock or even the humans these insects enjoy feasting on?
There are scary movies that start like this! I know that statement makes me sound like a nut, but come on folks- this is unnatural and uncharted territory we are messing with. There is no way to recall these GE insects one they have been released- so how can "they" produce any data at all supporting the safety of the release of well cannibal mosquitoes if you will. Where is the data to support that this will not affect the livestock they feed on?
This feels like we are all being blatantly endangered under the guise that it will benefit us all.
Oxitec is the company responsible for creating these GE mosquitoes. All to reduce the spread of slow the spread of dengue and chikungunya, while I take both seriously was this the right solution? With the deaths related to dengue up 105% this year I see the urgency for a solution. Yet it also makes me wonder if more than 3.3 million GM mosquitoes were released in disease prone areas why is this number not dropping?
I also understand that mosquitoes have built up a tolerance to 4 of the 6 pesticides normally used to eradicate them over the years. This created a need for an alternative way to deal with the issue and spread of disease.
Yet could all the money spent on genetically engineering a mosquito, not be better used towards attempting to develop a vaccine? Why is it so accepted to mess with all things natural? Plants and animals even insects occur naturally in nature, and have for centuries, without human interruption.
Oxitec is currently attempting to persuade Floridians of the safety of releasing their GE mosquitoes in order to eradicate Florida's mosquito population. Florida officials are working with Oxitec in order to seek approval from the USDA to conduct the same experimentation as in the Cayman Islands.
With Oxitec and the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District attempt to reach approval, how long will it be till other states are effected? Mosquitoes do not technically migrate- yet the disease carrying mosquitoes have already made their way to Florida (some food for thought). They do and can get caught in wind gusts and have been carried up to 75 miles from their original ecosystems.
For example, the fact that the disease carrying Aedes aegypti species of mosquitoes have made their way to the Florida Keys is some cause to pause and reevaluate the situation. Since the distance from the Cayman Islands to the Florida Keys is 585 Km or 363 miles. A much further distance than the reported 75 miles that wind gusts are said to carry mosquitoes.
Now keep in mind those are all just examples, it a fact that the mosquito originated in Africa. Yet is now found all over the world. So if the mosquito originates in Africa and has went on to create an ecosystem in most areas of the world to date. Should we not expect the same of the GM mosquitoes that are already released? 3.3 MILLION released in the Cayman Islands, that is a lot of bugs folks! So where is the data to say that the ones already flying around will not eventually take care of the problem?
While the CDC -Centers for Disease Control has approved an Oxitec Rearing Facility and a monitoring lab. There is not currently a decision as to the release of the GM mosquitoes at this time.
Oxitec is trying to use a loophole to reach approval with the FDA. Seeking an "animal bug patent". Why is it even possible to use a loophole with the FDA? They are supposed to be making decisions for safety as they relate to our foods and drugs, right?
There is a current Change.org petition against the release of the GM mosquitoes. With over 150,000 signatures (as I am writing this article). This seemingly is a large number, yet not when you think that all the states could inevitably be effected.
The population of the United States as of 2014 was 318 Billion human beings. I don't know what you think, I think that is a huge potential that we are all inevitably becoming part of one big science experiment.
What will be next? We have already tampered with pigs in order to chemically castrate them, then our male counterparts and male children are ingesting this "sterilizing" or castrating chemical. I am sure a good activist could easily connect the dots and imply population control at some level- since the male population ingests these castrating chemicals through meat.
Eaten any Cereal lately?
Millions Spent To Block GMO Labeling
The sad truth of the matter is that I doubt the GMO era will ever end in my lifetime. It is simply to profitable. It is an industry shrouded in secrecy and loopholes within the FDA that allow patents to be pushed through and approvals gained.
There are NON-GMO activists and movements like the "Non GMO Project" all over the world. Awareness is the key- a misinformed public never poses a threat.
With that being said there is absolutely steps you can take, share articles (not just mine!), tweet, and do research! I always include links withing my articles to help provide the more technical aspect of things- as I focus on attempting a common sense approach that everyone can understand!
There are many grassroots movements rallying for Non-GMO, Organics and labeling GMO products so that the consumer will be able to make a choice. Currently it is very hard to tell when shopping at the market what is and is not a GMO. Some products that say they are organic may very well contain up to 30% trace of GMOs.
You may very well not even realize companies like Kellogs, General Mills and Kraft all use GMO products. Spending millions to block California's Prop 37 (labeling initiative). You can see a full list of the top companies spending money to keep us in the dark here. The top three companies are Monsanto Co, Dupont and Pepsi Cola, with Pepsi being the parent company to Frito Lay and Tropicana- very mainstream brand that I am sure you have purchased in the past.
I urge you to visit the Just label Initiative to find out more information about the battle to label GMOs. We all have a right to know what we are eating, and to choose weather or not we want to eat it!
Do you think you have a right to know if you are eating GMOs?
DO you GMO?
With planting season around the corner if you intend to buy seeds I suggest finding Non-GMO heirloom seeds. A very worthwhile investment! You can then cultivate your own seeds from the harvest for use the following year.
You can see why the GMO seed is a such a lucrative business- since they have been altered at a genetic level it is harder to cultivate seeds from the harvest. More often than not you will be unable to produce a crop or good harvest from a GMO seeds that you cultivated from a harvest.
Heirloom seeds are often cheaper than their GMO counterparts too! Just because something says "organic" it does not mean it is completely free of GMO sometimes they are and sometimes there is 30% trace of GMO in the organically labeled item. Since the USDA is approving GMOs I am not sure that I completely trust "USDA certified organic" either. It is best to find the seeds you are interested in and research the company, their practices etc. You may even call them if you still have questions about their product too.
I welcome any and all comments, awareness is my goal and I appreciate all feedback. Do you eat GMOs or have you already adapted to a Non-GMO lifestyle?
For the ladies out there- your tampons contain the very same Bt cotton responsible for all the dead sheep I referenced earlier. Scary thought that we could possibly be contaminating ourselves with feminine products!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Cynthia Hoover