If you love food, being a food tester would be a dream job – unless you were hired because your boss was afraid of being poisoned! In years gone by, it was common for people of royalty to have food testers. In today’s world, most of us don’t worry about food safety, unless we have enemies who are trying to poison us. We eat in restaurants, indulge willingly when tempted with free food samples, and celebrate family traditions that revolve around food without ever wondering about the safety of the food we are eating. We have refrigerators, preservatives and other chemicals to prevent food spoilage, so what would we have to worry about? Is there food that could hurt us?
So, where were the food testers before we started eating genetically engineered (GE) foods? These foods were never safety tested, and we weren’t asked if we wanted to eat them! But genetically modified foods are everywhere on grocery store shelves and becoming commonplace in many fruit and vegetable markets. Genetic engineering (GE) refers to the process of combining genes from different organisms, also referred to as genetically modified (GM) or genetically modified organisms (GMO). This process is not the same as the scientifically sound practice of crossbreeding between plants to produce better crops, or traditional breeding techniques to develop animals that are better adapted for certain jobs, such as smaller, faster horses for herding cattle, and larger, slower, stronger horses for hauling and plowing. After all, no one in their right mind would breed horses with ducks to get flying horses, or to get really big eggs, would they? So what were they thinking when they decided to insert genes from an arctic flounder into a tomato? (www.saynotogmos.org)
Let’s take a look at a story that starts in the back lot of a major company where someone had disposed of a lot of herbicides. One day it was noticed that there was a plant growing amongst all of this poison. The poison should have killed everything, yet this plant figured out how to live in spite of it. This accidental discovery led to a chain of events that has continued to have a disastrous impact on many people and our environment.
The scientists that discovered this plant studied its DNA and produced seeds designed to grow into herbicide resistant plants. Although hybridization was already used to create plants that could flourish in harsh environments, and to produce animals that would adapt to different environments, the idea of gene insertion into dissimilar types of species was a controversial idea. The plan was to use genetic modification to create plants that would not be destroyed by the chemicals that were used on them.
Once the genetically modified seeds for growing insecticide resistant plants were produced, they were sold to farmers in many countries. Not long afterwards, a variety of unintended consequences occurred as a result. An unintended consequence is a nice way of saying that the “oops factor” hit. The “oops factor” is what happens when things don’t turn out as planned. The modified plants were not only vulnerable to certain insects, but the pesticide called BT (referring to the original bacteria it came from) remained in the plants grown for food. The inventors of the genetically modified plants argued that this should not be a problem because this bacteria was the same as the one sprayed on the plant, and therefore it wouldn’t be any worse to use. The missing information was that it was at least 100 times stronger than the one sprayed on the plant!
Are you starting to wonder whether food that comes from genetically engineered plants is safe to eat? Although companies that produce GE plants say there’s no problem because the digestive process destroys the genetically modified DNA, your gut feeling may be that they aren’t exactly safe. If this is the case, your instincts are correctly supported by a rare study (using human volunteers) that found that the new genetically engineered DNA remained intact in the bodies of many of the subjects. (Harry Gilbert)
Another problem associated with genetic engineering is that the gene splicing is very primitive. The splice is highly unstable and unexacting as to where on the DNA chain the splice will actually take place. It may even jump to a new strand of DNA in the system that it has entered. That system may be your DNA, your children’s DNA, or your pet’s DNA! In the old model of DNA manipulation, one could simply add a trait or take a trait away. Now it’s been discovered that when you move or add a strand to your DNA, you affect a whole range of other genes and their expression. It would be like wanting to have a child with blue eyes when you, your spouse, and your parents all have brown eyes. So, you change the gene for brown eyes to blue. But not only does the child get blue eyes but also three ears, no nose, and six teeth all on the outside of his mouth. Not a good trade for blue eyes is it? With GMOs, the expression of your genes could be turned on or off the same way, in an unregulated manner.
FDA scientists warned that GMOs can create unpredictable, hard to detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. (Unintended GMO Health Risks pamphlet, The Institute for Responsible Technology) Yet, the FDA still does not require any safety evaluations for GMOs.
Do you want to be a food tester for GMOs? Since you won’t be getting paid, and there are many risks involved, you probably don’t want the job. But if you live in the U. S., you already unexpectedly have the job, and you are the experiment! If it’s time for you to start avoiding GMOs, visit www.seedsofdeception.com to review the Non-GMO Shopping Guide and watch some informative videos on GMOs. You can also pick up a copy of this Shopping Guide and the Unintended GMO Health Risks pamphlet from my office. For directions and hours, call 734-425-8220.
Dr. William H. Karl, D.C.