Let Us Choose-To GMO or Not to GMO I work at a food coop. And I am frequently asked about the latest diets, gluten free options, what organic and non-organic means, if there are nitrates in our meats, where our fish comes from etc. My employer gives all of its employees a handbook when we are hired. We read it and take a test in order to have knowledge about the questions that will come up. Surprisingly, we are not told much about GMO’s and honestly I have not been asked many questions about them. I have done more research to better understand some of the questions I am asked and why some customers are so concerned about nitrates and gluten free choices. I am familiar with the term genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), and I have seen labeling from the NON-GMO project on some of the items we carry. There are labels assuring you that what you are consuming is not genetically modified, but there are not labels or regulations telling you what are genetically modified. Where did they come from? And how long have I been consuming GMO’s without any knowledge of them? These are s few questions that arose when I decided to research this topic. There is an overwhelming amount of information and propaganda on this subject, much in the interest of the companies that produce the seeds and food. When people shop where I work, they feel safe as I do that the food they are getting is safe and healthy. This is not the case because without regulations and labeling there is no way to be 100% sure that you are not consuming genetically modified organisms. The United States is known as a GM friendly place as 90% of our crops here are genetically modified. I say that we should have a choice in what we consume, and good or bad GMO labeling should be required in the United States.
So, what is genetically modified food? According to Jeri Freeman,
“genetically modified food consist of plant s and animals whose genes have been altered. GM food was originally developed to increase capability of growing certain crops with higher yields as a way to help beat world hunger. A goal of genetic modification is to create crops and livestock that have beneficial characteristics that do not occur naturally in a given species.”
GM foods sound like a solution to feed starving people in under developed countries. Who would not support a technological advance that can aid people in need? According to Anton E. Wohlers, In Switzerland plant scientist created a strain of rice called Golden Rice. Golden Rice was made with higher amounts of vitamin, to combat blindness in children of underdeveloped countries that is attributed to vitamin A deficiency. They also created a similar strain of rice with a higher iron content for the same purposes. GM food can be a great benefit to our society. There are many good things that can come from GM foods, but there also are adverse effects that can arise. There have been several documented incidents where GM foods have gone wrong. Theses incidences include but are not limited to the Pusztai incident, the decrease of the monarch butterfly and genetically modified tryptophan that killed people. Nigel G. Halford writes of these occurrences in his book genetically modified crops. The Pusztai incident is when Dr. Arpad Pusztai from Scotland used lectin from a snow drop and infused it with a potato. Lectin is a natural pesticide produced in foods; it is poisonous to insects, animals and humans. When Pusztai fed these modified potatoes to rats they died. He then fed potatoes to rats that were spiked with lectin; they died as well but did not suffer as much. This mistake was discovered in the lab before ever reaching human consumption. Cornell University found that Monarch Butterfly caterpillars had a higher mortality rate when introduced to pollen from GM crops. Although this study was done in a lab and not conditions in the outside world it shows that something is not right when any