Monday, November 15, 2010

GMO What's the BFD?-- Part 1

When it comes to genetically modified organisms (GMO) there are few areas of our lives that aren't impacted. GMO's are frequently either touted as miricle food or cited as a potential hazard for the environment and human health, but they are having a huge impact on farmers, business and economics as well. Since they are such a huge part of our lives, I thought I'd take a closer look at the consequences of GMOs in a few different blog posts.

Health Concerns:
Did you know US grown long grain rice is banned in Japan because it was found to contain bacterial DNA that makes the rice resistant to weed killer, and isn't approved for sale in the US? ... or that 90 percent of the soybeans grown in the US contain a Roundup Ready trait designed to allow farmers to bath their crops in glyphosate (a chemical designed to kill plants). In fact, nearly everything from alfalfa to potatoes to corn, cotton and wheat have had bacterial, viral or other outside genetic material inserted in their DNA. In some ways this has been a boon for farmers since they no longer have the laborious task of tilling the soil in an effert to control weeds. Instead, they can simply drench their crops in herbicides. This alone can be unsettling for many consumers, but if it is not enough to know that a large portion of your food was awash in deadly chemicals like Roundup before arriving on your dinner table,  think about the effects of these transgenic modifications themselves. Studies are emerging that link GMO food to severe health effects.

A frequently cited study from the 1990's outlines the potential for transgenic alterations to introduce allergens like tree nuts into otherwise benign foods. Thankfully, the study, which looked at a strain of soybean containing a  gene from the Brazil nut, prevented the modified and highly allergenic soy from ever reaching the market. However, recent studies link GMO food that is currently on the market with a number of severe health effects.

This study, published in the International Journal of Biological Science in 2009 links 3 types of corn (manufactured by Monsanto) with organ failure According to the study, the 3 strains of Monsanto corn cause organ toxicity and are linked to liver, kidney and heart damage. And I'm not just picking on Monsanto here. Really, it should be no surprise that Monsanto is at the center of this controversy. Monsanto is the largest GMO seed producer in the world, contributing GMO technology to 90% of the world's GMO seeds. Nearly every controversy around GMO food can be linked in some way to Monsanto.

Of course, Monsanto vehemently defends their GMO products as safe. But, I'm sure they did the same thing when they introduced DDT, Agent Orange, saccharin, rBGH...

In my next post, find out about how GMO foods are affecting the farming industry... including organic farms.

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