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GMOs, A Beginner's Look

September 28, 2013 4 min read

I’m sure most people have heard the term GMO, but if for some reason you haven’t it stands for genetically modified organisms.  It's also known as GE genetically engineered or GM genetically modified.  It’s referring to plants and animals that have been modified genetically.  They have changed the genetic code ever so slightly to make corn more resistant to pests for example.   I have to admit when the buzz started going around about these gmo’s, I really wasn’t sure what to believe.  I thought it was just another thing like the gluten thing and now the paleo/primal thing.  Funny thing is though as I was researching and learning more about nutrition and our food supply that is significantly lacking in nutrients I began to cut out foods that had gluten and gmo’s just by default.  I was one step away from being paleo without even knowing what it was just from cutting out processed foods and sticking to more ‘real’ foods.  But as I delved deeper into the problems with our food supply, I kept coming back to the issue of genetically modified foods.  So what is it and what does that really mean to me and my family or more importantly to you and your family?
  • First of all, it’s a complicated process that has multiple steps.  Many times things go wrong, only sometimes does it go right and the intended outcome is achieved.  Just like when we have invitro fertilization, sometimes it works perfectly, sometimes it doesn’t and other times you have multiple outcomes.  It’s a blessing to say the least for those who can’t have babies.  Genetic engineering on the other hand brings two completely unrelated things together, things that would never come together in nature like a tomato and a scorpion or a corn plant and a bacterium.  To help tomato plants fight off bugs, scorpion venom is inserted into the tomato genes and to make corn more resistant to bugs as well and the multiple spraying of pesticides.
  • If you’ve ever studied biology, you know we have DNA and RNA that make up our genes and they are long chains of code that tell whether we have blue eyes and blonde hair or brown eyes and brown hair, among other characteristics.  One thing that I relate it to is my son who was born with a genetic defect.  It was a spontaneous mutation, meaning I was not a carrier, and it was a mutation of the ATP7A gene.  That may not mean much to most folks, and it’s just one code out of millions, but it affected his entire body almost from having loose sagging skin, to brittle bones, to failure to thrive.
  • The top genetically modified crops are corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beets, zucchini, yellow squash, papaya and alfalfa.  These crops have been genetically modified to withstand numerous sprayings of harmful pesticides and some have even been encoded so that the bugs die upon eating them.
  • 64 countries have labeled GMO products except the US and Canada.  Studies have shown harmful effects but the powers that be here in the US have kept them under wraps.  Many of the big names like Kraft and WalMart have taken out certain additives in other countries and labeled their gmo containing products.   I kept questioning this and wondering why aren’t we until I realized that there’s really no incentive.  Take the UK for example; they pay for their people’s health care so they have a vested interest in keeping their people healthy.  Here in the US there is no incentive, we are a free enterprise, capitalistic country.  This has made us a great nation, but we’ve got some greedy folks at the top unfortunately who are not looking out for the greater good.
  • The process of genetic modification creates new proteins and the body sees these proteins as foreign invaders, thus creating an immune response.  An autoimmune response is a type of allergy and 1 in 4 children are now affected by allergies.
  • 92% of soy is gmo and 80% of corn.  Moderation may be key, but if you’re consuming processed foods, there is no moderation because the majority of processed foods contain one or more of these ingredients unless it’s certified organic and non-gmo.
  • The easiest way to know if a certain food is causing a reaction in your body is to cut it out of your diet for 3 weeks, then reintroduce it.  It’s the most certain way because even scientists have stated they are unable to test for certain behaviors and reactions or their studies are at times inconclusive.  You know your body and you can tell the difference.
My main point here is to be aware of what you’re putting in your body and your children’s bodies.  We can no longer leave it up to someone else to determine whether something is good or ‘healthy’ for us.  Do your homework.  I read a great analogy from Kenneth Bock:

We have all heard of the canary in the coal mine-the sensitive bird miners sent ahead of them to test the atmosphere.  If the bird lived, they knew there was enough oxygen, but if it died, they knew they could go no farther.  Sadly, our children have become those canaries, and those with lower thresholds for the toxicants that pervade our environment are being unmasked more and more.

Sadly enough, it’s not just our children, it’s us too.  I sure as heck am protecting my kids and myself.  I don't want them to be the guinea pigs for these experimental foods and I want to be around as they grow up.  Hopefully, you are already doing the same.  If not, what are you waiting for?

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