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Did You Know Your Food is Genetically Altered?
During the last five years, several multinational chemical and drug companies — including Monsanto and Syngenta (formerly Novartis/Astra-Zeneca/Ciba-Geigy) — have quietly altered our food supply in an alarming way. Genes from bacteria, viruses, foreign plants and animals have been inserted into corn, soybeans, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, and papayas. These corporations plan to “genetically engineer” almost 100% of our food within a decade. Already about 40% of the soybeans, 20% of the corn, and a percentage of the potatoes grown in the U.S. and about 50% of the canola (rapeseed) plants in Canada have been genetically altered.
These companies have influenced US and Canadian regulatory agencies to allow these grains to be grown, mixed with non-altered grains, and sold without any labeling, even though they have been shown to be harmful to the environment and have not undergone even a single human health safety test. More than 60% of the packaged food items in US grocery stores contain genetically altered ingredients. We are now all experimental animals in a huge biological experiment involving the food we eat every day.
What Have They Done to Our Food?
Scientists at these companies have learned how to insert genes from plants, animals, bacteria, and viruses into any other plant or animal. For instance, Monsanto has inserted foreign genes into soybeans, corn, and canola (rapeseed) that allows farmers to spray the crops with Monsanto’s toxic Roundup weed killer without killing the plant. They have inserted a gene from an insect-killing bacterium called BT into corn so that every cell of the plant has activated BT toxin in it.
An Unprecedented Threat
In the rush to commercialize and profit from these “inventions,” these companies have exposed consumers and the environment to an unprecedented threat:
The genes inserted into these grains cause the plant to create new, foreign proteins, never before seen in nature. There has never been any long-term animal or human testing to determine whether the new proteins can cause allergies or other adverse effects. Instead, the companies got FDA officials to declare them to be “substantially equivalent” to non-altered grains, even though, behind the scenes, FDA scientists disagreed. Allergy research doctors in England have seen a dramatic rise in soybean allergy, and suspect a reaction to the new foreign protein. In the case of BT corn and potatoes, European researchers have recently found that activated BT toxin, now found in genetically altered corn and potatoes, can cause cell damage in mammals.
The pollen of these plants also contains the foreign genes. Pollen is carried far and wide by wind and bees. It can pollinate and transfer its altered genes to non-altered crops and similar wild plants — biologically contaminating them — thus creating new species (nicknamed Superweeds). BT toxin in corn and potatoes and their pollen kills non-target and beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, and butterflies. A Cornell University study published in Nature showed how the new corn pollen kills Monarch butterflies.
Both Monsanto and Syngenta have developed “Terminator” genes that will create plants that sterilize their own seeds, forcing farmers to buy seeds from the companies every year. This threatens subsistence farming in developing countries, where farmers have saved and traded seeds for thousands of years. It also threatens the world’s ecosystems if the genes for sterility are transferred to wild plants.
Monsanto claims that the new crops have higher yields, and that genetic engineering is the only way to feed a hungry world. But university trials of these grains show that the crop yields are no better — and in some cases are far worse — than ordinary seeds. The only driving force behind this technology is profit for a few multinational companies who seem willing to compromise health, safety, and the environment.
How to Avoid Genetically Altered Food
Since significant percentages of soy, corn, potatoes, and canola oil contain altered genes, and they are mixed with unaltered food, right now there is only one way to safely avoid them: seek out products that use only certified organic ingredients. Avoid eating products that have unknown origins, such as corn cereals, corn chips, and tofu (soybean curd) in restaurants unless you know for sure that they use organic ingredients.