Wouldn’t it be crazy if the very people who are supposed to protect us end up putting us in danger? Some serious allegations of exactly this nature are being made against the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the agency that is responsible for passing food safety laws.
While the FDA has a serious and lengthy approval processes for new types of foods and ways to produce them, new evidence points to the fact that they may not be following those protocols — at least when it comes to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Let’s take a closer look at this case to learn more about what GMOs are. Are they, in fact, dangerous to human health? Why the biotech industry not want you to know that so many GMOs are already in your food supply?
What Are GMOs?
GMOs simply means that the structure of the seed of certain plants has been changed for various purposes. Cell invasion technology is used to alter the plant’s genome to increase yield and improve nutrient value. Additionally, it’s supposed to deter pests, make plants more tolerant to herbicides and environmental conditions and prevent infections and diseases.
To create a GMO seed takes a few genetic engineering techniques where genes are transfused into plants of the same species or different species; certain genes can be enhanced or deleted or completely new genes can be added. The key steps involved in genetic engineering are identifying a trait of interest, isolating that trait, inserting that trait into a desired organism, and then propagating that organism1.
This means that a brand new species of a plant is created that has never naturally grown before.
History of GMO
Farmers around the world have been using plant breeding techniques for thousands of years through trial and error. In the 1980s, scientists adapted biotechnology to transfer genes between plants without the typical lengthy process that was previously used.
The first GMO plant approved by the FDA for commercial sale was the Flavr Savr tomato in 19942. The typical process of bringing tomatoes to the market was to pick them before they are ripe, which prevented soft tomatoes from getting damaged and spoiled during the delivery time. Therefore, tomatoes were picked way before they were ripe, and then chemically treated with ethylene, a flammable gas, to cause ripening once they were delivered to their final destination: the grocery store.
During the 1980s, some scientists believed that an enzyme found in tomatoes, called polygalacturonase (PG), was responsible for ripening. Researchers from Calgene, Inc.2 created a reverse-orientation copy of the gene, an antisense copy designed to prevent or drastically reduce the formation of PG. This would allow tomatoes to be picked after they had ripened, and since they would remain firm for a longer time, they could be transported in the ripened state, which would allow them to be more much flavorful. Calgene successfully petitioned the FDA to approve the Flavr Savr tomato, claiming that it was virtually indistinguishable from non-GMO tomatoes.
The process to petition the FDA to approve this GMO crop led to a lot of protest within the FDA. FDA memos which were made public as a result of a 1998 lawsuit led by the Alliance for Bio-Integrity clearly show that a multitude of the FDA’s own scientists expressed concern about GMOs and their threat to our health3. They demanded that the FDA follow its own protocol and make sure GMOs were proven “safe by an overwhelming consensus of experts, but this consensus must be based on “scientific procedures” – which ordinarily entails studies published in peer-reviewed journals4.
The predominant opinion by FDA scientists3 was (a) that they entail unique risks, especially the potential for unintended harmful side effects that are difficult to detect and (b) that none can be considered safe unless it has passed rigorous tests capable of screening for such effects.
One FDA official wrote in a memo5 that the FDA was “… trying to fit a square peg into a round hole . . . [by] trying to force an ultimate conclusion that there is no difference between foods modified by genetic engineering and foods modified by traditional breeding practices.” She stated: “The processes of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different, and according to the technical experts in the agency, they lead to different risks.”
The person responsible for pushing the GMO agenda was Michael R. Taylor, a political appointee at the FDA. Interestingly enough, he was a former attorney for Monsanto, one of the biggest biotech companies around the world that sell both GMO seeds and pesticides, such as RoundUp. After his success at the FDA, he was appointed Vice President at Monsanto. If you’ve never heard of Monsanto, just Google them — you’ll instantly see thousands of articles about the lawsuits, cover ups and exposes related to this global company.
Although high production costs prevented the first GE tomato from ever becoming profitable, it led to an entire industry that produces GMO crops. The FDA now allows the companies petitioning for growing and selling GMO crops to provide their own research to demonstrate they are safe.
To date, genetic engineering has become the “fastest adopted crop technology,” as “the global hectarage of biotech crops have increased more than 100-fold from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to over 175 million hectares in 20136.”
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) started The Millions Against Monsanto Campaign in mid-1990s. The group’s goal is to educate the public about food sources and to expose the dangerous cover-ups of giant food conglomerates like Monsanto. In 2012, the OCA led citizen-ballot-initiative campaigns that demanded food labels state whether any of their ingredients are made from GMOs. The group fundraised for these initiatives in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Vermont and California. Unfortunately, because Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) led a multi-million dollar campaign against these measures, they were not passed anywhere except in Vermont.
It is reported7 that the GMA spent $46 million dollars alone to fight against the initiative in California, and $400 million in total against all the initiatives. The GMA was also forced to pay $18 million in fines for laundering donations in support of the GMO labeling bills in Washington. Because the American public mostly supported these initiatives, in a “show of good faith” the GMA worked with the federal government to pass a voluntary GMO labeling law. While the public called for clear labeling, this law only requires a symbol or an electronic code that has to be scanned into a smartphone app for consumers to know if GMOs exist in the foods they are buying.
Some Congressmen, such as Bernie Sanders, Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch, were against the law, saying that it is too complicated to find the information and does not contain enough penalties for companies that don’t comply. Regardless, the law still passed, and it ultimately became referred to as the DARK Act, standing for (Deny Americans the Right to Know).
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The OCA has still not given up, and urges16 consumers to download the Buycott App, which identifies companies that are against GMO labels and those that support it. To date, they independently test foods from different brands and publicize those that contain GMOs. They also sue brands that make false claims about natural ingredients in their foods.
OCA’s reach spans wider than just the U.S. because they fight against GMOs all over the world. In 2017, they were part of the organizers of the Monsanto Tribunal in the Netherlands that ended up declaring17 that Monsanto’s activities have a negative impact on basic human rights.
Dangers of GMO Foods
If GMOs are grown to withstands pests and diseases and increase yield, it means that they are great solutions to these problems, right? Not so fast. When an organism’s biological makeup is changed in the lab, comprehensive studies must be completed over a span of many years to ascertain their safety on both humans and animals.
“In order to scientifically address this issue, it is necessary to have access to toxicological tests, preferably on mammals, performed over the longest time-scales involving detailed blood and organ system analyses,” a source explains10.
Small problem: We already know that lobbyists and big agriculture managed to push the GMO agenda through the FDA without any sufficient testing. That means it’s up to others to determine if GMOs are truly safe; and the conclusions don’t look promising.
The Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering stated10, “we’ve proven that GMO are neither sufficiently healthy nor proper to be commercialized … Each time, for all three GMOs, the kidneys and liver, which are the main organs that react to a chemical food poisoning, had problems,” said Gilles-Eric Séralini, an expert member of the Commission for Biotechnology Reevaluation.
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In studies, GM foods were found to cause the following issues:
- Liver, blood and kidney abnormalities in rats 11
- Reproductive problems, such as lower fertility and lower body weight in the offspring of mice, cows and pigs 12
- Reduced immune function in mice 13
- Spontaneous death of several types of animals 14
- Hepatorenal toxicity (kidney failure) in rats 15
How to Avoid GMOs
It does seem dire that GMOs are contaminating most of our food supplies, but there are ways to avoid them in order to protect our health.
1. Opt for Organic Foods and Ingredients
The first thing to do is to purchase organic produce and foods if your budget allows. No genetically modified organisms are allowed in foods that are labeled as organic, and farmers aren’t allowed to feed their animals GMO feed if the meat you are buying is organic. This is one of only two ways to make sure that you are not consuming GMOs.
2. Purchase Products With the Right Labels
The second way is to purchase foods that have been labeled as not having GMOs by the Non-GMO Project. This is a non-profit organization that provides independent testing for brands that want to prove that a third-party has tested their foods and they contain no genetically modified ingredients. Brands that simply state that their foods are GMO-free without being tested by a third party can be misleading in their claims since there is no federal policy to penalize them.
3. Understand Which Crops Are Most Commonly Genetically Modified
The third way is to learn which ingredients are typically made from GMOs, such as soybean and corn, and look for them on the list of ingredients. If the foods don’t have it, there are lower chances that GMOs are present.
The following crops are typically made from genetically modified organisms:
- Cotton — Up to 92% of cotton in the U.S. is genetically engineered8
- Soybean — Accounting for 50% of all GMO soybeans in the world in 20146 and 93% of all GMO soybeans in the U.S.
- Corn — 90% of corn grown in the US is made from GM seed9
- Golden Rice — Three genes are altered in the production of this rice, which is meant to help with a shortage of vitamin A
- Sugar Beets
- Seedless Watermelon
- Grape Tomatoes
- Baby Carrots
4. Support Non-GMO Organizations
Consider making a donation to programs such as the OCA and the Non-GMO projects to support their goals. Contact your representatives and let them know you are not OK with the DARK Act, and that you want to know what’s in your food! The more people speak up and make their voices heard, the more pressure will be on the government to truly represent the people!
5. Adopt a Thermo Lifestyle
Finally, to protect our health against the seemingly immense obstacles governments and corporations create to keep us buying cheap food, it’s important to understand what we put in our bodies. The Thermo Diet is a great way to help your body restore itself to a state of optimal health.
By eating the right foods, your body can detoxify contaminants from your food, pollution from the air and environmental toxins. Poor eating habits will damage and overload your body’s self-cleansing systems, which can lead to disease, weight gain, poor sleep, infertility, sexual dysfunction, anxiety and depression. The Thermo Diet will help you balance your hormones in order to boost your metabolism, reset cortisol levels, get rid of inflammation and improve your general health!
Citations and Sources
- 1. Harvard University, “How to Make a GMO“
- 2. University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, “The case of the flavr savr tomato“
- 3. Responsible Technology, “Why the FDA’s policy on genetically engineered foods is unscientific, irresponsible, and illegal“
- 4. U.S. Food & Drug Administration, “Code of Federal Regulations Title 21“
- 5. Alliance for Biointegrity, “Key FDA documents revealing the abnormal risks of genetically engineered foods—and flaws with how the agency made its policy“
- 6. International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, “ISAAA Brief 46-2013: Executive Summary“
- 7. Politico, “Monsanto, DuPont fund GMO fight“
- 8. Center for Food Safety, “About genetically engineered foods“
- 9. Wiley Online Library, “Current state of herbicides in herbicide‐resistant crops“
- 10. International Journal of Biological Sciences, “A comparison of the effects of three gm corn varieties on mammalian health“
- 11. Mercola.com, “Genetically Modified Foods Could Cause Long-term Sterility“
- 12. Mercola.com, “Major Threat to Human Fertility and Very Existence of Human Life on Earth“
- 13.Mercola.com, “GM Corn from Monsanto Poses Health Hazard“
- 14.Mercola.com, “GM Corn from Monsanto Poses Health Hazard“
- 15. International Journal of Biological Sciences, “A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health“
- 16. Organic Consumers Association, “Who Supports GMO?”
- 17. Organic Consumers Association, “Millions Against Monsanto March”