Sunday, June 8, 2014

Truth About GMO's


The term GMO's mean's genetically-modified organisms

It refer's to laboratory engineered foods made in test tubes using the latest molecular biology techniques. Created for human or animal consumption. These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides, pestisides, or cold weather. The enhancement of desired traits has traditionally been undertaken through breeding, conventional plant breeding methods are time consuming and that's a good thing, because over time muck knowldge isw gained. Genetic engineering, on the other hand, can create plants with the exact desired trait very rapidly and with great accuracy. For example, plant geneticists can isolate a gene responsible for drought tolerance and insert that gene into a different plant. The new genetically-modified plant will gain drought tolerance as well. Not only can genes be transferred from one plant to another, but genes from non-plant organisms also can be used. The best known example of this is the use of B.t. genes in corn and other crops. B.t., or Bacillus thuringiensis, is a naturally occurring bacterium that produces crystal proteins that are lethal to insect larvae. B.t. crystal protein genes have been transferred into corn, enabling the corn to produce its own pesticides against insects.

http://jimbonham.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Monsantos-Genetically-Modified-Foods.jpgAccording to the FDA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are over 40 plant varieties that have completed all of the federal requirements for commercialization. Some examples of these plants include tomatoes and cantaloupe, that have modified ripening characteristics. Soybeans and sugar-beets that are resistant to herbicides, and corn and cotton plants with resistance to insect pests. While there are very, very few genetically-modified whole fruits and vegetables available on produce stands, highly processed foods, such as vegetable oils or breakfast cereals contain genetically-modified ingredients because the raw ingredients have been pooled into one processing stream from many different sources. Also, the ubiquity of soybean derivatives as food additives in the modern American diet virtually ensures that all U.S. consumers have been exposed to GM food products.

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Soybeans and corn are the top two most widely grown GMO crops. Next are cotton, rapeseed (or canola) and potatoes close behind. these GM crops were modified for herbicide tolerance, and insect pest resistance. Despite persisting concerns over genetically modified crops, a new industry report (PDF) shows that GMO farming is taking off around the world. In 2012, GMO crops grew on about 420 million acres of land in 28 countries worldwide, a record high according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications. Governments around the world are hard at work to establish a regulatory process for GM plants. Yet depending on the political, social and economic climate within a region or country, different governments are responding in different ways. In the United States, only the California counties of Mendocino, Trinity and Marin have successfully banned GM crops. Voters in other California counties have tried to pass similar measures but failed. San Juan County, Washington was able to pass what is known as Initiative Measure No. 2012-4, which actually bans the growth of genetically modified organisms within the county. Jackson County, Oregon passed a measure which makes it unlawful for any person to propagate, cultivate, raise, or grow genetically engineered plants in Jackson County. In Australia, Several Australian states had bans on GM crops but most of them have since lifted them. Only South Australia still has a ban on GM crops, though Tasmania has a moratorium on them until November of 2014. In Japan, The Japanese people are staunchly opposed to genetically modified crops and no GMO seeds are planted in the country. However, large quantities of canola are imported from Canada (which is one of the world's largest producers of GM canola, and there is now GM canola growing wild around Japanese ports and roads to major food oil companies. Genetically modified canola such as Monsanto's Roundup Ready canola have been found growing around 5 of the 6 ports that were tested for GM contamination. In New Zealand, No GM foods are grown in the country. In Germany, there is a ban on the cultivation or sale of GMO's. In Ireland, all GM crops were banned for cultivation in 2009, and there is a voluntary labeling system for GMO foods. In Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria and Luxembourg: There are bans on the cultivation and sale of GMOs. In France: Monsanto's MON810 GMO corn had been approved but it's cultivation was forbidden in 2008. There is widespread public mistrust of GMO's that has been successful in keeping GM crops out of the country. In Switzerland, the country banned all GM crops, animals, and plants on its fields and farms in a public referendum in 2005, but the initial ban was for only five years. The ban has since been extended through 2013. In India, the government placed a last-minute ban on GM eggplant just before it was scheduled to begin being planted in 2010. However, farmers were widely encouraged to plant Monsanto's GMO cotton and it has led to devastating results. The UK's Daily Mail reports that an estimated 125,000 farmers have committed suicide because of crop failure and massive debt since planting GMO seeds. In Thailand, the country has zigzagged in its support and opposition of GM crops. The country had widespread trials of GM papayas from Hawaii but reversed its plans when the seeds got wild and began contaminating nearby crops. Several countries such as Japan moved to restrict the importation of Thailand's papayas as a result, not wanting to import any GM foods. Thailand is currently trying to embrace both sides — producing organic foods for some countries at a high price while moving towards embracing more and more GM crops. The country has also tried declaring some areas GMO-free zones in order to encourage other countries to trust their foods.

The U.S. now grows mostly GM varieties of corn, canola and soy. Hawaii now grows GM papayas. Approvals have also been given for GM alfalfa, zucchinis, beet sugar and tomato varieties, though not all are currently being grown. A recent attempt to approve GM salmon was defeated. China is one of the largest producers of GM crops. Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic are approved for growing GM potatoes. Finland's government and population is receptive to GM foods. None are currently grown in the country, however, because no approved GM crops are suitable for the country’s growing conditions. The Zambian government has launched a campaign to get the public to support GM technology. Canada has widespread GM crop usage. Nearly all Canadian canola is GM, as is a large portion of the country's soy, and corn. Prince Edward Island tried to pass a ban on GMO cultivation but failed, and GM crops in the region are currently increasing. Spain currently grows GMO corn. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Portugal, Romania and Poland all grow some GMO corn. The Phillipines grow GM crops. The European Union (EU) has approved the cultivation of many GM crops (including potatoes and corn) but individual countries are able to opt out from growing them. However, most EU countries are not permitted to reject the sale of GM foods. South Africa is growing an increasing number of GM crops. Britain officially supports GM crops and has trials of GMO's like potatoes planted. However, there is widespread public distrust of the crops and Prince Charles has been a vocal opponent of GMO's. South America has widespread planting of GM crops. As mentioned above, Thailand is alternately embracing and rejecting GM crops. India has widespread GM cotton use. As mentioned above, the widespread planting of Monsanto's GM cotton has led to tragedy throughout India. The Indian government even banned conventional seeds from many government seed banks in an attempt to please Monsanto, and in return, the country was given International Monetary Fund loans to help its economy. An estimated 1,000 farmers commit suicide each month in the country as a result of the crop failure, and debt caused by planting the GM seeds. Farmers were convinced to spend what was often 1,000 times the cost of conventional seed on the "magic seeds" after listening to Monsanto's promises of increased yields and resistence to pests. Despite the promises, the crops were often destroyed by bollworms. In addition, the farmers weren't warned that the crops would require twice as much water as conventional cotton, leading to many crops drying up and dying. The Monsanto "terminator" seeds also must be purchased again every year. Farmers used to save seed from year to year, but this yearly purchase of seed was a financial blow that led to insurmountable debt.
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In Europe, anti-GM food protestors have been especially active. In the last few years Europe has experienced two major foods scares: bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) in Great Britain and dioxin-tainted foods originating from Belgium. These food scares have undermined consumer confidence about the European food supply, and citizens are disinclined to trust government information about GM foods. In response to the public outcry, Europe now requires mandatory food labeling of GM foods in stores, and the European Commission has established a 1% threshold for contamination of unmodified foods with GMO's.
In the United States, the regulatory process is confused because there are three different government agencies that have jurisdiction over GM foods. To put it very simply, the EPA evaluates GM plants for environmental safety, the USDA evaluates whether the plant is safe to grow, and the FDA evaluates whether the plant is safe to eat. The EPA is responsible for regulating substances such as pesticides or toxins that may cause harm to the environment. GM crops such as B.t. pesticide-laced corn or herbicide-tolerant crops but not foods modified for their nutritional value fall under the purview of the EPA. The USDA is responsible for GM crops that do not fall under the umbrella of the EPA such as drought-tolerant or disease-tolerant crops, crops grown for animal feeds, or whole fruits, vegetables and grains for human consumption. The FDA historically has been concerned with pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and food products and additives, not whole foods. Under current guidelines, a genetically-modified ear of corn sold at a produce stand is not regulated by the FDA because it is a whole food, but a box of cornflakes is regulated because it is a food product. The FDA's stance is that GM foods are substantially equivalent to unmodified, "natural" foods, and therefore not subject to FDA regulation.

Evil corn on the cob with a "Stop the Crop" logoThe EPA conducts risk assessment studies on pesticides that could potentially cause harm to human health and the environment, and establishes tolerance and residue levels for pesticides. There are strict limits on the amount of pesticides that may be applied to crops during growth and production, as well as the amount that remains in the food after processing. Growers using pesticides must have a license for each pesticide and must follow the directions on the label to accord with the EPA's safety standards. Government inspectors may periodically visit farms and conduct investigations to ensure compliance. Violation of government regulations may result in steep fines, loss of license and even jail sentences. As an example the EPA regulatory approach, consider B.t. corn. The EPA has not established limits on residue levels in B.t corn because the B.t. in the corn is not sprayed as a chemical pesticide but is a gene that is integrated into the genetic material of the corn itself. Growers must have a license from the EPA for B.t corn.

The USDA has many internal divisions that share responsibility for assessing GM foods. Among these divisions are APHIS, the Animal Health and Plant Inspection Service, which conducts field tests and issues permits to grow GM crops, the Agricultural Research Service which performs in-house GM food research, and the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service which oversees the USDA risk assessment program. The USDA is concerned with potential hazards of the plant itself. Does it harbor insect pests? Is it a noxious weed? Will it cause harm to indigenous species if it escapes from farmer's fields? The USDA has the power to impose quarantines on problem regions to prevent movement of suspected plants, restrict import or export of suspected plants, and can even destroy plants cultivated in violation of USDA regulations.

Many GM plants do not require USDA permits from APHIS. A GM plant does not require a permit if it meets these 6 criteria: 1) the plant is not a noxious weed; 2) the genetic material introduced into the GM plant is stably integrated into the plant's own genome; 3) the function of the introduced gene is known and does not cause plant disease; 4) the GM plant is not toxic to non-target organisms; 5) the introduced gene will not cause the creation of new plant viruses; and 6) the GM plant cannot contain genetic material from animal or human pathogens. The current FDA policy was developed in 1992. Companies working to create new GM foods are not required to consult the FDA, nor are they required to follow the FDA's recommendations after the consultation. Consumer interest groups wish this process to be mandatory, so that all GM food products, whole foods or otherwise, must be approved by the FDA before being released for commercialization. The FDA counters that the agency currently does not have the time, money, or resources to carry out exhaustive health and safety studies of every proposed GM food product. Moreover, the FDA policy as it exists today does not allow for this type of intervention.

The FDA's current position on food labeling is governed by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act which is only concerned with food additives, not whole foods or food products that are considered "GRAS" - generally recognized as safe. The FDA contends that GM foods are substantially equivalent to non-GM foods, and therefore not subject to more stringent labeling. If all GM foods and food products are to be labeled, congress must enact sweeping changes in the existing food labeling policy. What are the acceptable limits of GM contamination in non-GM products? The EC has determined that 1% is an acceptable limit of cross-contamination, yet many consumer interest groups argue that only 0% is acceptable. Some companies such as Gerber baby foods and Frito-Lay have pledged to avoid use of GM foods in any of their products. But who is going to monitor these companies for compliance and what is the penalty if they fail? Once again, the FDA does not have the resources to carry out testing to ensure compliance.
Biotech firms claim they offer a genetically modified pest-resistant crop. Pest-resistant in this context actually means the crops contain their own built-in pesticide. So eating a GM plant, whether you're a bug or a human, means you're ingesting toxic pesticides. The fact is, genetic engineering is crude, imprecise and insidious. The process itself alters DNA and mutates genes. It's a game of genetic roulette that can't be won, and it's dangerous to the whole human race. It has been proven GM crops do not fulfill their stated purpose. They have not influenced the escalating rates of hunger, poverty, food prices and environmental disasters. The solution is a fundamental change in farming practices that does away with GM crops and promotes small-scale organic farming. According to Jeffrey Smith's research, between 1994 and 2001, the period during which GM foods flooded the market, food related illnesses doubled. GMO foods can be:
  • Allergenic
  • Toxic
  • Carcinogenic
  • Anti-nutritional
Despite claims by giant GMO manufacturers like Monsanto that genetically modified foods are no less healthy than non-GM foods, the research says otherwise. GM foods can also:
  • Cause cancer
  • Contribute to food allergies
  • Possibly cause damage to your immune system
  • Create super-viruses
  • Potentially cause outbreaks of Morgellons Disease
In case you're unfamiliar, people with the bizarre Morgellons Disease, which has been cropping up worldwide, describe a sensation of bugs moving around beneath their skin. This unsettling sensation is accompanied by open lesions that ooze blue, black or white fibers that can be several millimeters long. These fibers are strong enough to distend the skin when pulled and are painful to remove. The traits of GM crops can get passed on to other non-GM crops. This means that a crop engineered to contain a vaccine, or to be sterile, could easily taint an entire region, and eventually the entire world. The environmental impact of GMOs is potentially much greater even than the health impact. The offspring of these products include products such as maltodextrin, soy lecithin, and high fructose corn syrup. Other GMO products include
  • Some varieties of zucchini, crookneck squash, and papayas from Hawaii
  • Milk containing rbGH
  • Rennet (containing genetically modified enzymes) used to make hard cheeses
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet)

Examine produce stickers on the fruits and vegetables you buy. The PLU code for conventionally grown fruit consists of four numbers; organically grown fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number nine; and GM fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number eight. Buy organic produce as often as you can. By definition, food that is certified organic must be free from all GM organisms. Stay away from processed foods. Most of these contain GMO corn and soy products. I use the "True Food Shopping Guide" (http://www.truefood.org.au/truefoodguide/) it is a great tool to help you determine which brands and products contain GMO ingredients. Check this site before you go to the grocery store. Now, with everything negative I've brought to light with this post about GMO's I don't think we can afford to ignore a technology that has such enormous potential benefits. However, I believe we must SLOWLY proceed, with caution to avoid causing unintended harm to human health and the environment as a result of our enthusiasm for this powerful technology. Also I believe we should let men of science police the technology, not Monsanto executives trying to make a quick buck for investors using the whole human race as guinea pigs. Public outcry is rising against these largely untested foods and crops. The industry claims of "super yields,"and an end to poverty and famine have proven to be dangerously inaccurate. Now, more than ever, is the time when our voices, and purchases can make a real difference. Good Luck...








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