By Kris DeFoer
Do you have the right to know the chemical makeup of the foods you eat?
Some big companies, among them, Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Bayer, and DuPont, think not. Genetic engineering, the process of embedding an organism with non-related genes, is big business. These organisms are loosely referred to as GMOs, genetically modified organisms. Some states, Texas among them, are at various stages in the process of requiring laws that genetically modified consumer products be labeled. Let’s talk about why this is important. But first…
What does GMO mean anyway?
There are two ways plants can be altered: hybrid plants are cross-pollinated with other similar plants of the same species, in a way that would naturally happen if they were left alone, i.e. different varieties of tomatoes or radishes. This sort of plant would not likely need to be labeled.
Genetically modified (GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) plants are those that have been modified in a laboratory by the insertion of genes from unrelated plants, animals or bacterium to create some sort of change to the plant. This type of modification would not happen in nature.
What’s the big deal about GMO foods?
There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about GMO foods. Initial FDA reports in the 90s advised against genetic engineering. Some studies (mostly those funded by the industry) say that they’re perfectly safe. Others (from other entities) suggest correlations between GMO foods and conditions such as: birth defects, autism, Alzheimer’s, various cancers and autoimmune illnesses, and a number of others. Additionally, these modifications have been tied to “leaky gut syndrome,” which in itself has far-reaching consequences – ability to digest nutrients, immunity, hormonal function and emotional balance – did you know that 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut? If the gut isn’t working properly, all of these things can get out of whack.
FDA only requires that industry provide research proving the safety of its products, not that it provide unbiased research. (This applies not only to GMO plants, but to all foods and drugs on the market.) Any research that’s been done outside of the industry has been contradicted by research funded by industry, so it’s hard to know what’s true.
So, back to labeling and why it’s important.
Currently, the science is too muddy to know if these products will or will not be harmful to humans over time. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather avoid something we just don’t know about. At this time, the only way to do so is to only buy organic. Organic products can be both hard to find and costly. If the law required products containing GMO ingredients to be labeled, consumers would have an easier time making an informed choice. Sixty-four countries around the world, including 28 countries in the EU, Japan and even China currently require such labeling. California had a proposition on the ballot in 2012, and the industry spent some $46 million to advertise against it. Vermont voted to require labeling of GE foods, and a joint appeal has been filed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers. At this time, Vermont is holding firm, and the law is slated to go into effect on July 1, 2016.
Currently, there are bills requiring labeling of GE foods being introduced in other states, including Texas. To learn more about this important issue and to electronically sign a petition supporting these bills, go to http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/take-action. Together, we can make our voices heard.
Kris DeFoer is a certified Holistic Health Coach who works with women individually and in groups, to help them re-discover their natural health and vitality. She believes that healthy living should be fun, that healthy food should taste good and that good health is about much, much more than eating well and exercising – that how we live has an enormous impact on how we feel. Visit www.happybodyhealth.net for more information.