Saturday, January 23, 2016

Do You Eat GMO Foods?


Corrupt US Politicians - US Citizens Eating GMOs in Ignorance - Huge Cancer Risks  
Published on May 17, 2013
GMO Cookie Is Crumbling
By Dr. Mercola
November 03, 2015
In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), determined glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, to be a “probable carcinogen” (Class 2A).
This determination was based on evidence showing the popular weed killer can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma and lung cancer in humans, along with “convincing evidence” it can also cause cancer in animals.
Monsanto has maintained that the classification as a carcinogen is wrong and continues to tout glyphosate (and Roundup) as one of the safest pesticides on the planet.1
However, they’ve now been slapped with a growing number of lawsuits alleging they long knew that Roundup’s glyphosate could harm human health. Reuters reported:
“Monsanto ‘led a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers, and the general population that Roundup was safe,’ the lawsuit states.
… ‘We can prove that Monsanto knew about the dangers of glyphosate,’ said Michael McDivitt, whose Colorado-based law firm is putting together cases for 50 individuals. ‘There are a lot of studies showing glyphosate causes these cancers.’”
In fact, internal Monsanto documents reveal they knew over 30 years ago that glyphosate caused adenomas and carcinomas in the rats they studied – and that’s only the beginning of Monsanto’s trouble. As each day goes by, the GMO (genetically modified organism) cookie continues to crumble…
Monsanto Asks California to Withdraw Glyphosate on Its Carcinogen List
California environmental officials intend to add glyphosate to their Proposition 65 list of cancer-causing chemicals. Established in California in 1986, Proposition 65 requires consumer products with potential cancer-causing ingredients to bear warning labels.
Rather than label their products sold in California as likely carcinogenic, most companies reformulated their product ingredients so as to avoid warning labels altogether, and they did this on a national scale, not just in California.
Monsanto, however, is trying a different strategy. They filed formal comments with the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment saying the plan to list glyphosate as a carcinogen should be withdrawn.
Their reasoning was that California’s actions could be considered illegal because, Monsanto claimed, they were no considering valid scientific evidence.2
The comment was slipped in on the final day the state accepted public comments, perhaps because Monsanto was trying not to attract too much fanfare to their attempts to keep people in the dark about their carcinogenic product.
It wouldn’t be the first time, either. Not only has the company been steadfastly fighting against GMO labeling, but they also feigned ignorance on the dangers of PCBs for several decades, which turned out to be a bold-faced lie. 
Monsanto (and Monsanto-related entities) is now facing at least 700 lawsuits on behalf of people who claim their exposure to PCBs, which Monsanto manufactured until the 1970s, caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma.3
Monsanto Employees Urged to Seek Legal Counsel Regarding Their Financial Rights…
Among the lawsuits filed against Monsanto are those from former farm workers who maintain their cancers (non-Hodgkin lymphoma, bone cancer, and others) were caused by glyphosate exposure. It’s also alleged that Monsanto engaged in false advertising that Roundup affects enzymes in plants but not in people.4
Aside from farm workers who may have suffered from years of glyphosate usage, another group of Monsanto’s victims may be their own employees.
Monsanto is being investigated for possible violations of the federal Employee Retirement Income Securities Act of 1974 (ERISA) regarding their Monsanto Savings and Investment Plan. As reported by Business Wire:5
“ERISA imposes fiduciary duties to prudently manage and invest the assets of the Plan. These duties were potentially violated by Monsanto’s continued offering of its company stock while it allegedly knew that the stock price was artificially inflated.
… According to employee stock fraud attorney, Jake Zamansky, Monsanto’s existing and former employees who purchased company stock through the Savings and Investment Plan may have suffered damage to their retirement savings.
If the lawsuit allegations that Monsanto knew the risks of Roundup pesticides prove true, Zamansky states, then the Company knew that its stock price was artificially inflated and that it would correct when the truth came out.
Monsanto’s existing and former employees who bought or held company stock that was artificially inflated were likely damaged, he states.”
Senate Hearing on GMO Labeling Deemed a ‘Travesty’
HR 1599, incorrectly named "The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” introduced by Rep. Pompeo with guidance from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), was passed by the US House of Representatives in July 2015.
The bill is commonly referred to as the "Deny Americans the Right to Know," or DARK, Act, as it extends unprecedented protection to Monsanto and other biotechnology companies while decimating state and consumer rights.
In addition to barring states from creating their own food labeling requirements for GMOs, HR 1599 preempts any and all state and local regulation of genetically modified (GM) crops – increasing corporate control of our food systems.
Adding insult to injury, HR 1599 will allow GMOs to be labeled as "natural" while forcing the burden of cost to conventional food providers, requiring a federal certification to be labeled as non-GMO.
HR 1599 slipped through the House greased with lots of GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association, aka Junk Food Industry) and biotech money and then headed into the Senate in October 2015.
Unfortunately, instead of hearing testimonies from parties on both sides of the issue, the hearing was reportedly stacked with pro-GMO witnesses from the biotech and food industries.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), which was not invited to testify, called the Senate hearing a “travesty” and noted that of the eight witnesses allowed to testify, only one could be remotely considered as someone who represented the interests of consumers and public health.
The other seven had ties to biotech and corporate food industries and were there to represent the interests of the corporations, not people.6 According to OCA, this included:7
•Michael Gregoire, associate administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): Gregoire helped Monsanto by cutting in half the time it takes for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to rubber-stamp a new GMO crop.
•William Jordan, deputy director, Office of Pesticide Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Jordan oversaw the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) reaction to the infamous StarLink GMO contamination scandal in 2000.
The StarLink corn variety, engineered to produce a Bt toxin, was supposed to be limited to animal feed and industrial use, out of fear it might cause severe allergic reactions. But it turned up in taco shells, and people started getting sick. Jordan refused to punish StarLink producer Aventis with even so much as a fine.
•Joanna Lidback, producer, The Farm at Wheeler Mountain, Barton, Vt.: Lidback is a graduate of the American Farm Bureau’s Monsanto-funded Partners in Agricultural Leadership program. Lidback has an MBA and works full-time as a business consultant to Yankee Farm Credit. She is the first vice president of the Orleans County Farm Bureau.
She’s on the board of directors of the Truth About Trade & Technology. Lidback also represents Agri-Mark, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and the National Milk Producers Federation, as a dairy farmer producing milk for Cabot Cheese.
Vermont’s GMO labeling law won’t impact Lidback’s farm because it doesn’t cover the products of animals fed genetically engineered feed, but Lidback falsely claimed that the law could put her farm out of business.
•Daryl E. Thomas, senior vice president, Herr Foods, Inc., Nottingham, Pa.: Herr Foods represents the typical food company that wants to make money from the market for non-GMO foods, while keeping consumers in the dark about which foods contain GMO ingredients.
On Herr’s website, the company explains its twisted position this way: “We know that food safety is paramount to everyone. So while we continue to explore opportunities to offer the latest developments in non-GMO ingredients, we remain committed to delivering to you the safest and best tasting snacks possible.”
Herr’s recently began marketing a non-GMO popcorn called Go-Lite! Herr’s has been lobbying against mandatory GMO labels with the Snack Food Association.
•Ronald E. Kleinman, physician in chief, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Boston, Mass.: Kleinman… worked for the GMO junk food industry during the Prop 37 campaign to label GMOs in California. Kleinman presents webinars on children’s health, for Coca-Cola, among the “most common misperceptions among parents”
Dr. Kleinman promises to clear up on behalf of the soda giant are “the safety… of sugar, artificial colors, and non-nutritive sweeteners in children’s diets.”
His bio on the Massachusetts General Hospital webpage says he consults for the Grain Food Foundation, Beech Nut, Burger King, and General Mills… and he contributed to a children’s brochure entitled “Variety’s Mountain” produced by the Sugar Association.
Kevin Folta: Bizarre Conflict of Interest Scandal Revealed
University of Florida professor Kevin Folta, a vocal advocate for GMOs, has vehemently denied ever receiving any money from Monsanto, but was caught having been less than forthright about his connections to the company when his email correspondence was released in response to a freedom of information (FOIA) request by US Right to Know. In August of last year, Folta did in fact receive a $25,000 unrestricted grant from Monsanto, and Folta wrote back to a Monsanto executive saying: "I am grateful for this opportunity and promise a solid return on the investment."
However, despite a rare flurry of media attention, none of the mainstream media outlets have addressed the most flagrant piece of evidence against Folta, showing that not only did he solicit these funds from Monsanto, he appeared to do so with intent to hide the financial connection between them. Folta even went so far as to create a bizarre alter ego, Vern Blazek, a supposed radio personality in Tillamook, Oregon, who held podcasts to sort through “the shills and charlatans to distill the scientific truth.”
Blazek hosted an interview with none other than Kevin Folta in June 2015, in which they discussed GMOs. As reported by BuzzFeed’s Brooke Borel:8
“Anti-GMO activists, Folta lamented to Blazek, were making misguided attempts to tie independent scientists to the agricultural giant Monsanto, one of the most polarizing companies in America. In July, through a bizarre email exchange, I discovered that Blazek is Folta’s alter ego. It was Folta who put on that disguised voice and interviewed his colleagues. It was Folta who had interviewed himself, without ever telling his audience. Because of our correspondence, Folta shut down the show and killed off Vern. Two weeks after that, a scandal broke that uprooted his life.
That’s when a group called U.S. Right to Know revealed the results of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the emails of Folta and 42 other public university employees whose work in some way relates to food. The group hoped to reveal unsavory ties between scientists and the biotech industry — and particularly to Monsanto. As activists and journalists mined some 4,600 pages of Folta’s emails and other records, they uncovered a nuanced intellectual and financial relationship to the company.
Folta had exchanged friendly emails with Ketchum — a firm that handles public relations for the Council for Biotechnology Information, an industry group of which Monsanto is a member — and collaborated with them on language about GMOs that he posted to an industry-funded website. He had worked with Ketchum on an op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel. And Monsanto had enlisted him to speak to skeptical farmers in Colorado who didn’t want to hear about GMOs directly from the company.”
The New York Times posted a long list of emails between Folta and Monsanto, obtained through the FOIA request. I encourage you to read these emails to see for yourself how Monsanto's PR firms use "independent" scientists to further the industry's version of science.9
Donald Trump Retweets, Then Deletes, Monsanto Slam – Why?
In October 2015, polls revealed that 2016 presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson was leading in Iowa. Shortly after, Donald Trump retweeted this message:10 “‘@mygreenhippo #BenCarson is now leading in the #polls in #Iowa. Too much #Monsanto in the #corn creates issues in the brain? #Trump #GOP.'”
The retweet was deleted after a few hours and Trump blamed it on a “young intern,” but there was likely a very good reason why the retweet was quickly removed. Trump was trailing in Iowa, which is one of the leading producers of Monsanto’s taxpayer-subsidized corn, which in turn is used to produce ethanol.
According to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, ethanol is a major market for Iowa corn, and 47 percent of Iowa corn goes into ethanol production. There are 42 corn ethanol plants in the state, which produce close to 25 percent of all ethanol production in the US.11 Ethanol is poised to become a central issue in the upcoming election. As reported by Bloomberg earlier this year:12
“… [E]fforts [were made] by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad… to start a grass-roots effort to make ethanol a central issue in the Iowa caucuses next January, traditionally the first vote of the presidential primary season. Earlier this year, Branstad announced the formation of a new group, America’s Renewable Future, which intends to mobilize a pro-ethanol army of 25,000 people from each party to participate in the caucuses.
The group is backed by Growth Energy, the most active ethanol lobby, and headed by Branstad’s son Eric, who was Iowa field director for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. He says he plans to open an office in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. ‘We can get our message into the coffee shops where the candidates are,’ Eric says. ‘Then we can use Iowa’s unique status to teach the rest of the country how important ethanol is.’”
The US green energy policy requires oil companies to blend corn ethanol into their gasoline, which has driven up corn prices (until last year) and created an absolutely tragic environmental blunder. The federal government has moved to lower ethanol quotas for oil refiners, but the US EPA increased them anyway earlier this year.13 But the real issue is that plowing up native grasslands to plant vast expanses of corn and soy – the epitome of monoculture – needs to be stopped – not further subsidized by the government.
Such practice releases carbon dioxide into the environment while increasing erosion and the use of toxic fertilizers and other chemicals; it also destroys habitat for native plants and wildlife. Corn crops are already subsidized by the US government, so between subsidies and rising ethanol-driven prices, corn has become quite a cash crop for farmers.
But this "green energy" program is backfiring, because there's nothing "green" about planting an absolutely unnecessary surplus of corn, especially when natural prairies are being sacrificed. Not to mention, ethanol has been found to be worse for engines,14 worse for mileage,15 and more about political agendas than economic or environmental ones.
As Ron Paul said:16
“Today, the government decides and they misdirect the investment to their friends in the corn industry or the food industry. Think how many taxpayer dollars have been spent on corn [for ethanol], and there's nobody now really defending that as an efficient way to create diesel fuel or ethanol. The money is spent for political reasons and not for economic reasons. It's the worst way in the world to try to develop an alternative fuel.”
As further reported by Clean Technica, corn ethanol fuel standards have created more problems than solutions:17
“A ten-year review of the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by researchers at the University of Tennessee (UT) found that the RFS is ‘too reliant’ on corn ethanol, and the production of this biofuel is resulting in additional water and soil problems, as well as 'hampering advancements' in other biofuels.”
Meanwhile, how can there be talks of a food shortage when the US is using up some of its best soil to grow corn for fuel? Not to mention that, by driving up prices, it may actually contribute to hunger. More than 800 million people around the world don’t have access to enough to eat, and when corn prices rise, it makes it difficult for even more people to feed their families. Nearly half of the corn grown in the US goes toward fuel, while people are starving around the world…
Monsanto’s GM crops are often touted as necessary to ensure global food security, even though studies show reduced crop yields with their use. Feed the world? More like starve the world to protect Monsanto’s fuel subsidy…
What You Need to Know About GMOs
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are live organisms whose genetic components have been artificially manipulated in a laboratory setting through creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and even viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.
The FDA cleared the way for GE (Genetically Engineered) Atlantic salmon to be farmed for human consumption. Thanks to added language in the federal spending bill, the product will require special labelling so at least consumers will have the ability to identify the GE salmon in stores. However, it’s imperative ALL GE foods be labeled, which is currently still being denied
The FDA is threatening the existence of our food supply. We have to start taking action now. I urge you to share this article with friends and family. If we act together, we can make a difference and put an end to the absurdity.
QR Codes Are NOT an Adequate Substitute for Package Labels
The biotech industry is trying to push the QR code as an answer for consumer concerns about GE foods. QR stands for Quick Response, and the code can be scanned and read by smart phones and other QR readers.
The code brings you to a product website that provides further details about the product. The video below shows you why this is not an ideal solution. There’s nothing forcing companies to declare GMOs on their website. On the contrary, GE foods are allowed to be promoted as “natural,” which further adds to the confusion.
These so-called "Smart Labels" hardly improve access to information. Instead, by making finding the truth time consuming and cumbersome, food makers can be assured that most Americans will remain ignorant about the presence of GMOs in their products. Besides, everyone has a right to know what's in the food. You shouldn't have to own a smartphone to obtain this information.
Non-GMO Food Resources by Country
If you are searching for non-GMO foods here is a list of trusted sites you can visit.

GM Foods Can Be Toxic or Allergenic
Michael Antoniou, John Fagan and Claire Robinson
In this section the authors looked at results in animal feeding trials. GM crops, including some that are already in our food and animal feed supply, have shown clear signs of toxicity in animal feeding trials- notably disturbances in liver and kidney function and immune responses.
The following briefing is taken from “GMO Myths and Truths” a report compiled by Michael Antoniou, John Fagan and Claire Robinson.
Or summary of this section here.
Key Points
Most studies with GM foods indicate that they may cause hepatic, pancreatic, renal, and reproductive effects and may alter haematological [blood], biochemical, and immunologic parameters, the significance of which remains to be solved with chronic toxicity studies.
Peer-reviewed studies have found harmful effects on the health of laboratory and livestock animals fed GMOs. Effects include toxic and allergenic effects and altered nutritional value.
Most animal feeding studies on GMOs have only been short-term or medium-term in length. What are needed are long-term and multi-generational studies on GMOs to see if the worrying changes commonly reported in short- and medium-term studies develop into serious disease. Such studies are not required by government regulators.
Industry and regulators dismiss findings of harm in animal feeding trials on GMOs by claiming they are “not biologically significant” or “not biologically relevant” – scientifically meaningless terms that have not been properly defined.
No GM nutritionally enhanced (biofortified) foods are available on the market. In contrast, conventional plant breeding has successfully and safely produced many biofortified foods.
The most-hyped GM nutritionally enhanced food, Golden Rice, aimed at combating vitamin A deficiency, has wasted millions in development funds – yet has not been proven safe to eat and is still not ready for the market. Meanwhile, proven and inexpensive solutions to vitamin A deficiency are available and only need proper funding to be more widely applied.
Conventional plant breeding has successfully and safely produced many biofortified foods.
Feeding studies on laboratory and farm animals show that GM foods can be toxic or allergenic:
Rats fed GM tomatoes developed stomach lesions (sores or ulcers). This tomato, Calgene’s  Flavr Savr, was the first commercialized GM food.
Mice fed GM peas (not subsequently commercialized) engineered with an insecticidal protein (alpha-amylase inhibitor) from beans showed a strong, sustained immune reaction against the GM protein. Mice developed antibodies against the GM protein and an allergic-type inflammation response (delayed hypersensitivity reaction). Also, the mice fed on GM peas developed an immune reaction to chicken egg white protein. The mice did not show immune or allergic-type inflammation reactions to either non-GM beans naturally containing the insecticide protein, to egg white protein fed with the natural protein from the beans, or to egg white protein fed on its own. The findings showed that the GM insecticidal protein acted as a sensitizer, making the mice susceptible to developing immune reactions and allergies to normally non-allergenic foods. This is called immunological cross-priming. The fact that beans naturally containing the insecticidal protein did not cause the effects seen with the peas that expressed the transgenic insecticidal protein indicated that the immune responses of the mice to the GM peas were caused by changes in the peas brought about by the genetic engineering process. In other words, the insecticidal protein was changed by the GM process so that it behaved differently in the GM peas compared with its natural form in the non-GM beans and the altered protein from the GM peas stimulated a potent immune response in the mice.
Mice fed GM soy showed disturbed liver, pancreas and testes function. The researchers found abnormally formed cell nuclei and nucleoli in liver cells, which indicates increased metabolism and potentially altered patterns of gene expression.
Mice fed GM soy over their lifetime (24 months) showed more acute signs of ageing in the liver than the control group fed non-GM soy.
Rabbits fed GM soy showed enzyme function disturbances in kidney and heart.
Female rats fed GM soy showed changes in uterus and ovaries compared with controls fed organic non-GM soy or a non-soy diet. Certain ill effects were found with organic soy as well as GM soy, showing the need for further investigation into the effects of soy-based diets (GM and non-GM) on reproductive health.
A review of 19 studies (including industry’s own studies submitted to regulators in support of applications to commercialise GM crops) on mammals fed with commercialised GM soy and maize that are already in our food and feed chain found consistent toxic effects on the liver and kidneys. Such effects may be markers of the onset of chronic disease, but long-term studies, in contrast to these reported short- and medium-term studies, would be required to assess this more thoroughly. Unfortunately, such long-term feeding trials on GMOs are not required by regulators anywhere in the world.
Rats fed insecticide-producing MON863 Bt maize grew more slowly and showed higher levels of certain fats (triglycerides) in their blood than rats fed the control diet. They also suffered problems with liver and kidney function. The authors stated that it could not be concluded that MON863 maize is safe and that long-term studies were needed to investigate the consequences of these effects.
Rats fed GM Bt maize over three generations suffered damage to liver and kidneys and alterations in blood biochemistry.
A re-analysis of Monsanto’s own rat feeding trial data, submitted to obtain approval in Europe for three commercialised GM Bt maize varieties, MON863, MON810, and NK603, concluded that the maize varieties had toxic effects on liver and kidneys. The authors of the re-analysis stated that while the findings may have been due to the pesticides specific to each variety, genetic engineering could not be excluded as the cause. The data suggest that approval of these GM maize varieties should be withdrawn because they are not substantially equivalent to non-GM maize and are toxic.
Old and young mice fed GM Bt maize showed a marked disturbance in immune system cells and in biochemical activity.
Rats fed GM MON810 Bt maize showed clear signs of toxicity, affecting the immune system, liver and kidneys.
Female sheep fed Bt GM maize over three generations showed disturbances in the functioning of the digestive system, while their lambs showed cellular changes in the liver and pancreas.
GM Bt maize DNA was found to survive processing and was detected in the digestive tract of sheep. This raises the possibility that the antibiotic resistance gene in the maize could move into gut bacteria, an example of horizontal gene transfer. In this case, horizontal gene transfer could produce antibiotic-resistant disease-causing bacteria (’superbugs’) in the gut.
Rats fed GM oilseed rape developed enlarged livers, often a sign of toxicity.
Rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive growth of the lining of the gut similar to a pre-cancerous condition and toxic reactions in multiple organ systems.
Mice fed a diet of GM Bt potatoes or non-GM potatoes spiked with natural Bt toxin protein isolated from bacteria showed abnormalities in the cells and structures of the small intestine, compared with a control group of mice fed non-GM potatoes. The abnormalities were more marked in the Bt toxin-fed group. This study shows not only that the GM Bt potatoes caused mild damage to the intestines but also that Bt toxin protein is not harmlessly broken down in digestion, as GM proponents claim, but survives in a functionally active form in the small intestine and can cause damage to that organ.
Rats fed GM rice for 90 days had a higher water intake as compared with the control group fed the non-GM isogenic line of rice. The GM-fed rats showed differences in blood biochemistry, immune response, and gut bacteria. Organ weights of female rats fed GM rice were different from those fed non-GM rice. The authors claimed that none of the differences were ‘adverse’, but they did not define what they meant by ‘adverse’. Even if they had defined it, the only way to know if such changes are adverse is to extend the length of the study, which was not done. The authors conceded that the study ‘did not enable us to conclude on the safety of the GM food’.
Rats fed GM Bt rice developed significant differences as compared with rats fed the non-GM isogenic line of rice. These included differences in the populations of gut bacteria. The GM-fed group had 23% higher levels of coliform bacteria. There were differences in organ weights between the two groups, namely in the adrenals, testis and uterus. The authors concluded that the findings were most likely due to ‘unintended changes introduced in the GM rice and not from toxicity of Bt toxin’ in its natural, non-GM form.
A study on rats fed GM Bt rice found a Bt-specific immune response in the non-GM-fed control group as well as the GM-fed groups. The researchers concluded that the immune response in the control animals was due to their inhaling particles of the powdered Bt toxin-containing feed consumed by the GM-fed group. The researchers recommended that for future tests involving Bt crops, GM-fed and control groups should be kept separate. This indicates that animals can be extremely sensitive to very small amounts of GM proteins, so even low levels of contamination of conventional crops with GMOs could be harmful to health.
In these studies, a GM food was fed to one group of animals and its non-GM counterpart was fed to a control group. The studies found that the GM foods were more toxic or allergenic than their non-GM counterparts.
N.B References have been removed from this section for ease of reading. Full report is correctly referenced; please use original text when quoting/copying
Splitting the pros and perils of genetically modified foods 
Leslie Beck

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Nov. 30, 2015

On Nov. 19, the U.S. FDA approved a genetically engineered Atlantic salmon as safe for human consumption. The AquAdvantage salmon, genetically modified so that its growth hormone remains continually active, reaches market size considerably faster than conventionally farmed salmon.
Genetically modified (GM) foods aren’t new. Since 1994, Health Canada has approved more than 120 GM foods, from apples and squash to soybeans and canola oil.
Unless your diet includes only foods labelled non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) or certified organic, you are probably eating GM foods. Whether that’s a bad thing is a matter of ongoing debate. Here’s what you need to know about GMOs and GM foods.
What is genetic engineering?
Genetic engineering allows scientists to transfer one or more genes from one organism (e.g. plant, animal or microbe) to another organism. The resulting organism is said to be a GMO because it has one or more genes from an unrelated species.
In most cases, the new gene gives the organism a useful trait. Genetically altered crops are more resistant to disease, pesticides, cold temperatures and/or drought. GM corn and soybeans, for example, have been given genes from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacterium that produces proteins that kill insects. These GM crops are able to produce the same toxic proteins and protect themselves from disease-causing insects.
What are the benefits of GM foods?
Food crops engineered to tolerate insects, disease, pesticides, dry soil and extreme temperatures will produce higher yields and, as GM food advocates contend, can help feed our growing global population.
Depending on the crop and the introduced trait, GM crops can also benefit the environment by reducing pesticide use.
Genetic engineering can also give plants qualities that affect their shelf life, taste or nutritional profile. Some soybeans, for instance, have been modified to produce healthier oil.
Golden rice, genetically modified to contain high amounts of beta-carotene, has been developed as a potential way to combat vitamin A deficiency in poorer countries.
Besides salmon, are other GM animal foods in the food supply?
No. The AquAdvantage salmon is the first animal food to be allowed in the U.S. food supply. (It’s not expected to arrive in American grocery stores for at least two years.)
Health Canada has not yet approved any GM animal foods. But that doesn’t mean it won’t.
Scientists at the University of Guelph have genetically engineered a line of Yorkshire pigs, which have been submitted for regulatory approval from Health Canada and the U.S. FDA. The pigs excrete up to 70 per cent less phosphorus in manure than regular pigs, making them more environmentally friendly. (Phosphorus can pollute streams, rivers and lakes, killing off marine life.)
Which foods in Canada are genetically modified?
To date, the Canadian government has approved more than 120 GM foods. The four GM crops grown in Canada are soybean, canola, corn and sugar beets. That means food products made from these crops – including corn flakes, corn chips, canola oil, margarine, soy beverages, tofu and table sugar – are considered GM foods.
Food ingredients that come from GM crops include cornstarch, caramel colour, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), sugar, maltodextrin, dextrose and lecithin are added to thousands of foods. (It should be noted, though, that when a GM crop is processed into certain ingredients such as HFCS, sugar or corn oil, virtually all of the DNA and protein – including the engineered gene – is eliminated.)
Genetically modified papaya and zucchini are approved for import from the United States. So is GM cottonseed oil, which may show up in cereals, breads, potato chips and snack foods.
Arctic apples, approved in March, 2015, and expected to reach Canadian grocery stores by late 2016, are genetically altered so they don’t turn brown when sliced.
Are GM foods safe to eat?
The potential health risks of GM foods remain theoretical. Opponents of genetically engineered foods contend they could give rise to allergies and antibiotic resistance and question their long-term safety to human health.
According to numerous regulatory agencies and scientific bodies, including Health Canada, the U.S. FDA, the European Food Safety Agency and the National Academy of Sciences, there is no evidence that GM foods pose any health risks to people.
Yet, there are no continuing epidemiological studies investigating the potential health effects of long-term GMO consumption. (Since GM foods are not labelled in North America, such a study is impossible to conduct.)
Do GMOs pose a threat to the environment?
It’s possible that crops engineered to tolerate pesticides could breed with weeds and lead to the development of so-called superweeds, which would require increased pesticide use.
Contamination of organic and conventional crops with GMOs, harm to insects that are not pests and loss of plant biodiversity are among other environmental concerns.
How are GM foods regulated in Canada?
Health Canada regulates the approval and sale of GM foods through the Novel Foods Regulation. Companies that wish to bring a GM food or GM crop seed to market are required to submit detailed scientific data to Health Canada, whose scientists then assess if the food is safe and won’t harm the environment.
How can I avoid eating GM foods?
In Canada (and the U.S.) GM foods are not required to be labelled unless the introduced gene poses a safety concern from allergens or a change in nutrient content. (GMO labels are mandatory in the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.)
Companies can, however, voluntarily label foods as “GMO-free or “does not contain GMOs.” If you want to avoid GMOs, you can also buy certified organic foods, which cannot be grown or produced with GMOs.
If you are unsure about a food, call the manufacturer to ask if GMOs are used to produce it.
Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is based at the Medisys clinic in Toronto.
*******Also See:
Genetic Manipulated Foods Are Not Healthy!
(Part 1)
24 May 2009
(Part 2)
11 February 2012
(Part 3)
06 November 2013
Vitamins, Genetic Food, Health
03 April 2007
Are GMO's Safe?
18 January 2014
GMO's: The Seeds of Death
17 August 2014