Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why I Avoid GMOs

Source (edited)
I have become passionate about things such as this recently.  People like me who are concerned for their safety and the safety of their families are standing up against big corporations and demanding that they be heard.  They want to know that what they consume is safe beyond a shadow of a doubt.  If there is even a slight chance that our concerns are real, then change should come swiftly.  Right now there is a debate on whether GMOs (genetically modified organisms) should be labeled for the consumer when it’s a food source.  The big corporations that control the GMO market have fought to NOT have to label their products.  Now why is that?  If their GMO food was as safe as they say, why would they care about labeling it as GMO?

The food industry as a whole has grown beyond belief, and they have made changes to the way food is raised that are possibly detrimental to our health and well-being.  I believe the market had to grow to meet the demands of the American people.  It had to grow so fast and in such a way that production could increase dramatically.  Therefore it makes it almost impossible to farm in a sustainable and natural way and still meet the demands of all the people.  It became about growing more and making it larger.  Poisonous pesticides and herbicides are used to decrease loss to the crop, dangerous fertilizers are used to increase yield and size of the crop, and GMO seeds are used to help make this easier.

The actual market of GMO crops has only been around since 1996 when the company Monsanto introduced their soybean that had been genetically modified to withstand the effects of their product Round-up. [1]  That meant that the soybean, which is an ingredient found in most processed foods these days, was modified to include the Round-up gene so that it had an “immunity” to the poison when it was sprayed on the crops, therefore it would only kill the weeds that grew in the field.  Sounds promising right?  The danger is when they modify the food to include the poison’s gene.  Now all the genetically modified soybeans contain traces of this poison within them…and we eat them…so we are inevitably eating poison every day. 

Now this is not just limited to soybeans.  Corn (which is also used in most processed foods in the form of high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, dextrin, maltodextrin, dextrose, fructose, MSG, and xanthan gum, among others [2]) is another crop that is mostly genetically modified in America.  The demand for corn is so high because it is used in so many products and foods.  

The demand for animals to feed the population in this country has led to feeding them corn (feeding animals corn is another issue altogether), because it is so cheap to produce, easy to grow using the genetically modified seeds, and cheap because of government subsidies to those farmers.  The farmers receiving most of the subsidies are large, rich commercial farmers, not the small family owned farm.  In most cases, the larger the farm, the more they use GMO crops and pesticides to meet the demand of the consumer.  You can see below in the graph obtained from the USDA website that the use of GMO crops has increased steadily since they were introduced in 1996.  Now about 93% of the total soybean crops and 85% of the total corn crop grown in the United States are GMO. [3]
Monsanto owns a patent to their genetically modified seeds.  Any farmer trying to save seed is prosecuted and can no longer buy seed from them ever again.  Even an organic farmer who doesn’t buy Monsanto’s seed can be put out of business if his field is cross contaminated with the GMO seed of a neighboring farm.  Monsanto owns about 70% of the GMO market. [1]
Some countries have banned GMO crops.  Some have required more testing on them.  Some have required labeling. [4]  In the United States, none of these are true.  About 90% of the population WANT them to be labeled.  They should at least give people the choice to know what is in their food and then they can make their own decision whether to eat it and feed it to their families or not.  It is still not required to label in the United States though because of companies like Monsanto fighting it.
With the rising statistics of cancer, autism, diabetes, and other diseases, we need more testing before trusting these “franken-foods.”  In 1996 when the CDC first started tracking and monitoring the prevalence of autism, the autism rate was 3.4 out of 1000 children ages 3-10 years old.  In 2006 the rate was 5.7 out of 1000 school aged children. [5]  Today, 1 in 88 children have autism.  The CDC says “About 1 in 6 children in the U.S. had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism.” [6]

The CDC also says “Diabetes is becoming more common in the United States. From 1980 through 2011, the number of Americans with diagnosed diabetes has more than tripled (from 5.6 million to 20.9 million).”  Below, you can see on the graph obtained from the CDC website that since 1996, the diabetes rate has risen dramatically each year. [7]
The solution to this problem is not just in one decision or act.  It would take years to heal the land and the people from the consequences of this type of production.  The one thing we can do now is make the decision for ourselves and our families that we will eat organic, sustainably raised food.  Every dollar has a vote.  The votes from the dollars are what got us in this mess and it is the only thing that will start to get us out of it.  The industry is all about demand of the people and making profit.  When greed enters people and companies, profit overrides sustainability, ethics, and even the real reason that the industry is there in the first place…to feed people.

Now I don’t know for a fact that GMOs have caused increases in the stated diseases, because obviously there are other factors to consider like toxins, vaccines, obesity, etc.; but the increases started going crazy around the same time the GMO crop was developed.  There is still ongoing research on GMOs to see if they are safe for consumption.  Until concerns are disproven or confirmed, we should at least have the right to choose for ourselves and have labels on our food that show whether or not it contains GMOs. 
You can vote on this with your dollars.  Plan ahead and budget to only buy organic, non-GMO foods for your family.  Avoid processed foods which contain the most GMOs.  If we show the market that we do not want the product, eventually they will HAVE to change it.  You can also sign a petition to require GMO labeling on food products here.  Make yourself aware of what you are feeding yourself and your family.  I avoid anything that is not certified organic now because as said by Benjamin Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


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