How Much Should We Know About Our Food?
As a kid growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I didn’t have to worry about my food. I remember traveling to Tampa to be on the television set of the Mousketeers show. It was my first remembrance of eating a MacDonald’s hamburger. Back then a hamburger was a hamburger, not an artificially infused soy product.
Currently, there is an explosion in the biotech industry. Many of our fruits, vegetables and whole foods are free from genetically engineering (GE). However, that won’t last long as more and more foods that are genetically engineered are approved to be commercialized in the US and other countries. Approximately 92% of US corn is genetically engineered, as are 94% of soybeans and 94% of cotton (cottonseed oil used in food products). Some estimates suggest that up to 75% of processed foods in our supermarkets contain GE ingredients – from soda to soup, crackers to condiments. Biotechnology is incredible in its ability to remove the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the genetic code of another. They are creating an astounding number of organisms not produced by nature and have never been seen on the plate. These include potatoes with bacteria genes, “super” pigs with human growth genes, and thousands of altered and engineered plants, animals and insects. At an alarming rate, these creations are now being patented and released into our environment and our food supply.
In 2002, our Supreme Court may have made a decision that will affect the lives of future of Americans. Now several varieties of seeds have been patented. Thanks to an opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas, farmers fear law suits if they save their own seeds from companies like Monsanto. As a result, several thousand plant varieties have been patented that include both genetically engineered and conventional hybrid varieties.
The FDA does not require labeling of GE foods. There is no safety testing, therefore, there is no scientific testing showing that these foods are safe. It seems that the GE foods are following a path similar to tobacco. In the early 1800’s tobacco was very popular, the science linking its harmful effects did not appear until 1929. It has taken almost 200 years and millions of lost lives to recognize the harmful effects of nicotine.
Genetically engineered foods allow foreign genes, bacterial and viral vectors, viral promoters and antibiotic marker systems to be engineered into food. These are new “codes” for the human diet and need to be subjected to extensive safety testing similar to any new drug being developed. Why should we be concerned about the GE food?
- Toxicity: Each genetic insertion can create increased levels of naturally occurring toxins, appearance of new toxins, concentrations of toxic substances from the environment.
- Allergic Reactions: Genetic engineering can transfer allergens from foods to which people know they are allergic to foods that they think are safe.
- Antibiotic Resistance: All GE foods contain “antibiotic resistant markers” FDA has ignored their own scientist concern.
- Immuno-suppression: Twenty-two leading scientist recently declared animal test results linking genetically engineered foods to immune-suppression are valid.
- Cancer: Research shows that insulin-like growth factor-1(IGF-1) are increased in dairy products produced from cows treated with rBGH. The rBGH in milk can survive digestion and make its way into the intestines and blood streams of consumers. IGF-1 is an important factor in breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer.
- Loss of Nutrition: Genetic engineered foods can have an altered nutritional value.