Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A student's voice for informed choices... GMO ~ OUR RIGHT TO KNOW ~ THE NEED TO KNOW


Our Right to Know ~ The Need to Know

Jake Raccioppi

As you shop in the grocery store, you often see one isle, if any at all, that accommodates only all natural foods. Now what does this mean for the rest of the 22 isles? This means the rest of the shelves are packed with products that are made up of or contain at least one GMO. What is a GMO? GMO stands for "genetically modified organism". 

Genetically modified organisms are organisms in which scientists change the original DNA structure of a plant in a laboratory. For example, the biotech giant Monsanto, has engineered its sweet corn to resist a common herbicide and certain pesticides. Foods/Seeds such as these are to be properly labeled and tested. There is presently a lack of long term health studies on the potential risks and long term effects upon  human functioning.  Consumers are to be able to make informed choices by knowing what is in the food that they purchase, and what are the potential ill effects of GMO food products to their long range health. The most common GE crops in the United States are soybean, corn, cotton, and canola. Because many processed food products contain soybean or corn ingredients (e.g., high fructose corn syrup or soy protein), its estimated that 60% to 80% of processed foods in grocery stores include at least one GE ingredient. This is of significant concern.

In 1994, genetically modified produce, in the form of tomatoes, first appeared in grocery stores in the  United States. Numerous other types of produce have been genetically modified since, and consuming them has become common practice. But because  this phenomenon is so recent, the long term effects of eating such food  remain unknown (kallas). There are no real long term studies on how GMO's are affecting our health. "The U.S.  Food And Drug Administration encourages companies to do safety studies of new genetically modified foods but does not require it" (Eng). The government has not required any of these studies to be done. "Since there isn't any mandatory testing (no federal testing, no long-term studies, the companies who are  making the profits off the seeds only have to test) it has been relatively fast to  get the seeds to Market" (kallas). The consumption of genetically modified foods is expected to swiftly grow over the next few years and consumers are not educated on the long-term health risks. "Despite industry claims, the FDA does not formally approve the foods or ingredients made of  genetically engineered crops" (Jaffe). Laws only require pre-market approval of "food additives" such as aspartame or dyes. For more than a decade, almost all processed foods in the United states such as  cereals, snack foods, salad dressings,  to name some,  have contained ingredients from plants whose DNA was manipulated in a laboratory. Regulators and many scientists say that these pose no danger. This is not known since as stated, long term studies are absent.  But as Americans ask more pointed questions about what they're eating, popular suspicions about the health and environmental  effects of biotechnology assuring a movement to require that food from genetically modified crops be labeled, is not eliminated (Harmon and Pollack).

How can you tell which foods contain GMO'S? You can't! Mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods in the United States has been proposed, but not enacted, at the national, state, and local levels. Whether or not to require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods is a key issue in the ongoing debate over the risks and benefits of food crops produced using biotechnology. Bills requiring mandatory labeling have been introduced in Congress and in the Colorado legislature. Mandatory labeling will allow consumers to identify and stay away from food products that cause them problems. Consumers have a right to know what is in their food, especially concerning products for which health and environmental concerns have been raised. Do people support mandatory labeling? Yes! Surveys indicate that a majority of Americans support mandatory labeling. At least 21 countries and the European Union have established some form of mandatory labeling. 

What percentage of a GE ingredient must be present in a food before a label is required? A commonly proposed threshold level is one percent. In other words, if any ingredient of a product exceeds one percent GE content, the product needs labeling. One percent is the labeling threshold decided upon by Australia and New Zealand. The European Union has decided on a level of 0.9 percent, while Japan has specified a five percent threshold. Thresholds as low as 0.01 percent (the approximate limit of detection) have been recommended! 

What impact do GM (genetically modified)  foods have on our health? The answer is, no one really knows. GM foods have been on the market only since 1994, and research on their long-term effects on humans is scarce. To date most of the studies have been done on animals; worryingly, though, some of those studies link GM foods to altered metabolism, inflammation, kidney and liver malfunction, and reduced fertility. In one case when scientists performed an experiment on hamsters, multiple generations of hamsters were fed a diet of GM soy; by the third generation, they were losing the ability to produce offspring, producing about half as many pups as the non-GM soy group. As the midwest is coming  into sweetcorn season, a new type will be appearing on grocery store shelves-- even though shoppers have no way to recognize it. Sweet corn made by Monsanto's scientists is a new product sold at Walmart. Walmart has decided  to sell genetically modified corn despite opposition from alarmed consumer groups and activist who said genetically modified foods may pose environmental and health risks. 

For the past few months people have encouraged major companies such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and  general Mills to pledge to not use or sell Monsanto's genetically modified sweet corn (Eng). It's found that  every American eats an estimated 193 pounds of genetically engineered food annually. By comparison, the typical adult in the  United States ways 179 pounds (Kallas). Independently conducted studies show the more of these foods we eat, the greater the potential harm to our health. Rats in which were fed GM potatoes had smaller livers, hearts, testicles and brains, damaged immune systems, and showed structural changes in their white blood cells making them more vulnerable to infection and disease compared to other rats fed non-GMO potatoes. It got worse. Thymus and spleen damage showed up; enlarged tissues, including the pancreas and intestines; and there were cases of liver atrophy as well as significant proliferation of stomach and intestines cells that could be a sign of greater future risk of cancer. Equally alarming, results showed up after 10 days of testing, and they persisted after 110 days that is the human equivalent of 10 years. 

Many children in the US and Europe have developed life-threatening allergies to peanuts and other foods. There is a possibility that introducing a gene into a plant may create a new allergen or cause an allergic reaction in susceptible people. A proposal to incorporate a gene from Brazil nuts into soybeans was abandoned because of the fear of causing unexpected allergic reactions. Extensive testing of GM foods may be required to avoid the possibility of harm to consumers with food allergies. They are finding that GMOs are a breeding ground for bacteria and viruss and since the digestive system is where the body is exposed when ingesting these harmful foods, reversing the damaging effects of these foods is nearly impossible. In other cases on mice and rats, there is documented proof that the digestive system grows bigger for some strange reason. In some cases death has also been a challenge in working with GMO foods where rats and mice die in a matter of weeks by eating genetically modified food.

Do GM foods have any effect on the environment? Yes! One being the unintended harm to other organisms. Last year a laboratory study was published showing that pollen from GM corn caused high death rates in monarch butterfly caterpillars. Monarch caterpillars consume milkweed plants, not corn, but the fear is that if pollen from GM corn is blown by the wind onto milkweed plants in fields next to one another, the caterpillars could eat the pollen and perish. Although the Nature study was not conducted under natural field conditions, the results seemed to support this viewpoint. Unfortunately, GM toxins kill many species of insect larvae randomly; it is not possible to design a GM  toxin that would only kill crop-damaging pests and remain harmless to all other insects. Another consequence is a resulting reduced effectiveness of pesticides.  Just as some populations of mosquitoes developed resistance to the now-banned pesticide DDT, many people are concerned that insects will become immune to GM or other crops that have been genetically-modified to produce their own pesticides. Another concern is that crop plants engineered for herbicide tolerance and weeds will cross-breed, resulting in the transfer of the herbicide resistance genes from the crops into the weeds. These "super weeds" would then be herbicide tolerant as well. Other introduced genes may cross over into non-modified crops planted next to GM crops. The possibility of interbreeding is shown by the defense of farmers against lawsuits filed by Monsanto. The company has filed patent infringement lawsuits against farmers who may have harvested GM crops. Monsanto claims that the farmers obtained Monsanto-licensed GM seeds from an unknown source and did not pay royalties to Monsanto. The farmers claim that their unmodified crops were cross-pollinated from someone else's GM crops planted a field or two away. More investigation is needed to resolve this issue.

GM foods not only have negation effects on humans as well as the environment and animals but also have a reduced nutritional value. A genetically modified plant could theoretically have lower nutritional quality than its traditional counterpart by making nutrients unavailable or indigestible to humans. For example, phytate is a compound common in seeds and grains that binds with minerals and makes them unavailable to humans. An inserted gene could cause a plant to produce higher levels of phytate decreasing the mineral nutritional value of the plant. Another example comes from a study showing that a strain of genetically modified soybean produced lower levels of phytoestrogen compounds, believed to protect against heart disease and cancer, than traditional soybeans.

There are many negative effects of GM foods that have been reported world wide. There is valid reason for seed/food to be properly labeled. Testing by independent laboratories, and not Monsanto, are to be ongoing in order to evaluate  the long term health risks genetic engineering creates. Consumers  have the right to know what is in the food that they purchase, and what effect it may have on health in the long range. The future of our health is taking a turn for the worse.  Americans are no longer enjoying good health. There are ever increasing numbers, across the age ranges of young and old alike diagnosed with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity. These ill conditions have been shown to develop in animals who have consumed GM food products. We cannot ignore these findings. We must be informed to make informed choices. Labeling of GMO seed/food must be a requirement. We the people deserve 'truth in labeling.'  Next time you shop in the grocery store think twice about what the product or produce is made up of or what it secretly contains before throwing it in you cart! As everything adds up over time, and the more these genetically modified foods are pushed on us as Americans, knowing the dangers going in and actively speaking out against it,  may save more lives now and in the future.

Healthy shopping!

An added word by Rose Marie Raccioppi...

About the author: Jake Raccioppi is a high school student. He chose this research topic for he fully appreciates the importance of maintaining health and well being. May it fulfill its intention. May his voice here expressed move us to action... our children, our youth, our future generations deserve our active voices and purposeful actions.  Thank You Jake, your leadership is most valued.

YES, MARCH for Seed/Food Freedom... NO to GMO - no corporation is to be granted power over what has been gifted to ALL by Creation itself... this is NOT LAWFUL even though the USA has granted Monsanto such domination... the smoke and mirrors put forth by granting Monsanto patents over nature MUST BE STOPPED... food is life... and no corporation should be granted dominion over a basic life source... the voice of the populace must be ever loud, clear and persistent!!! 

It's time to March Against Monsanto on 25. May
Global Event List: http://bit.ly/ZTDsk8
Start your own march: http://on.fb.me/16qw2r4
Informations: http://bit.ly/12AjXh1

You can sign on... let the numbers speak out...

An important read... just received moments ago:  Former Pro-GMO Scientist Speaks Out On The Real Dangers of Genetically Engineered Food | True Activist ~ http://www.trueactivist.com/former-pro-gmo-scientist-speaks-out-on-the-real-dangers-of-genetically-engineered-food/

Here is a video presentation that CANNOT be ignored... indeed compelling evidence of harm from GMOs: GMO & Pesticides Cause Tumors & Higher Mortality Rate? (Documentary of Actual Study) [VEDS #21] - YouTube ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeW5yUSqdhY

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