Genetically Altered Food
What are GMOs?
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants, animals and bacteria that are engineered for various purposes ranging from agricultural production to scientific research. GMOs are created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
What crops are commonly genetically modified?
More and more foods and products are being genetically engineered or contain genetically engineered ingredients. Here are eight of the most common to look out for. If a product contains these ingredients and is not labeled non-GMO Verified or Organic Certified, there’s a good chance it contains GMOs:
- Sugar Beets
- Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash
ALSO high-risk: animal products (milk, meat, eggs, honey, etc.) because much animal feed is made from genetically modified soy, corn, and cottonseed.
What product ingredients commonly contain genetically engineered crops?
Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ethanol, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.
Why should we be concerned about GMOs?
Human Health Risks: More and more studies point to the idea that there’s grave cause for concern about the health effects of consuming GMOs and the chemicals they are sprayed with, including food allergies, irritable bowels, organ damage, cancer
Environmental Risks: Seventy-two percent of US GMO crops are engineered to tolerate a certain type of herbicide. But the weeds that these herbicides used to kill are coming back bigger and stronger, creating herbicide-resistant “superweeds” that require greater quantities of more toxic pesticides to eradicate.
The Risk To Farmers In Developing Countries: Every thirty minutes, a farmer commits suicide in India due to meet rising debts, a phenomenon that has been steadily rising since the 1970s. While the causes behind the farmers’ crushing debt and resultant suicides are complex—ranging from unfair government floor prices for cotton to international trade agreements skewed in favor of other countries—GM seeds do appear to play a role.
The Risk to Organic Farmers: Even when a farmer isn’t growing GM crops, contamination can easily occur—through seed mixing or pollen drift from neighboring GM fields. While this contamination is troubling for those of us who wish to avoid GMOs, it can be an economic disaster for organic and family farmers.
How can we avoid GMOs?
There are several choices you can make when buying groceries and eating out to try and avoid GMOS.
- Look for the Non-GMO Project label.
- Buy organic certified produce and packaged foods.
- Avoid high-risk ingredients. http://gmoinside.org/resources/gm-ingredients-to-watch-out-for/
- Be wary of non-GMO claims that lack certification.
- Avoid processed foods.
- Watch out for restaurants.
- Buy and plant your own organic seeds.
Question: What is a genetically engineered food or GMO?
Answer: A genetically engineered food is a plant or animal that has been changed by taking genes from one species and inserting them into the DNA of another species or altering the DNA in a way that could never happen through traditional cross-breeding or in nature.
Question: Aren't genetically engineered foods safe?
Answer: The approval process for new GMO crops in the U.S. is extremely weak and relies solely on the safety tests done by the corporations that are creating these crops. Right now, most crops are approved by federal regulators under the "generally recognized as safe" provision, which means that if a GMO corn variety looks and "acts" like the non-GMO version of corn, it is approved.
Question: But don't farmers need genetically engineered foods to feed the growing world population?
Answer: Over 99% of the GMO crops that are being planted today are engineered to withstand strong chemical applications, or to produce their own pesticides. Often, the chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow and DuPont that create GMO crops also create the chemicals that have to be used with the crops, so the main benefit of these patented crops is for the companies and their profits. Additionally, most of these GMO crops — like corn, soybeans, canola and cotton — are not grown as food for direct human consumption, but rather for animal feed, or to create ingredients in processed foods.
Question: If over 90% of Americans support the labeling of GMOs, why hasn't Congress or the Food and Drug Administration done anything?
Answer: What we eat and feed our families has a direct impact on our health and well-being, and we have a right to know if the food we're eating has been altered in a way that could never happen in nature. Unfortunately, the big food industries spend millions lobbying Congress and federal agencies to keep labels off of GMO foods. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents the biggest food and chemical companies, has spent over $50 million to defeat labeling initiatives in multiple states.
Question: Why should I take action and ask my members of Congress to support this legislation?
Answer: Genetically engineered crops are in most processed foods but are unlabeled, so many people who wish to avoid foods with GMO ingredients don't know where they are lurking. GMOs are untested and it's unknown how these engineered foods may be impacting our health and the environment. At the very least, shouldn't we have a choice to avoid them if we want to?
If you’ve been waiting to finally see Monsanto – one of the most hated companies in the world – to pay for its ecocide, knowing harm of human life, and devastation of our pollinators, then you won’t have to wait much longer. Several activist groups joined by food and farming experts are suing Monsanto for their crimes against humanity. 
Finally, Monsanto, the US-based, transnational company responsible for introducing multiple genetically modified crops and numerous toxic chemicals into our environment – including saccharin, aspartame, polystyrene, DDT, dioxin, Agent Orange, petroleum based fertilizers, recombinant bovine growth hormones (rGBH), Round Up (glyphosate), Lasso (an herbicide used in Europe), Bt toxic plants, and more – will have to answer to the world for its reign of terror. Monsanto has acted with severe negligence, and the hubris and supremacy of a corporation given personhood, but no longer.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), IFOAM International Organics, Navdanya, Regeneration International (RI), and Millions Against Monsanto, along with dozens of global food, farming, and environmental justice groups announced at the United Nations conference held recently in Paris that an international court of lawyers and judges will assess Monsanto’s criminal liability for their atrocious acts.
The court, in The Hague, Netherlands, will use the UN’s ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ developed in 2011 to assess damages for Monsanto’s acts against human life and the environment.
The court will also rely on the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002, and it will consider whether to reform international criminal law to include crimes against the environment, or ecocide, as a prosecutable criminal offense.
This International Criminal Court, established in 2002 in The Hague, has determined that prosecuting ecocide as a criminal offense is the only way to guarantee the rights of humans to a healthy environment and the right of nature to be protected.
Speaking at the press conference, Ronnie Cummins, international director of the OCA (US) and Via Organica (Mexico), and member of the RI Steering Committee, said:
“The time is long overdue for a global citizens’ tribunal to put Monsanto on trial for crimes against humanity and the environment. . . Corporate agribusiness, industrial forestry, the garbage and sewage industry and agricultural biotechnology have literally killed the climate-stabilizing, carbon-sink capacity of the Earth’s living soil.”
The proceedings will take place on World Food Day, October 16, 2016.
This story originally appeared at Natural Society
on Genetic Modification and Monsanto
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