I just found out about a survey the Federated Farmers of New Zealand (pro GM) are doing to gauge the public reaction to introducing GM foods into ‘clean, green' New Zealand. Then only about an hour later I stumbled across this article, aptly named Just Another Reason to Grow Your Own Food
Most of us who care about our health know that GM food have to be bad news, but until now I didn't know that any studies had been done into exactly what effect they can have. Here's what one study has found.
Then, a week later, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine dropped a bombshell study which states, “GM foods pose a serious health risk.”
The AAEM paper also notes, “Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body.”
“Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions,” the study suggested. Because GM foods are not identified it is impossible to match a person's consumption to any symptoms of illness.
Although many organic food manufacturers source non-GM foods and say so on their labeling, in most countries there are no laws making food manufacturers, or even produce growers for that matter, label their food as being genetically modified. Yet it's clear that GM foods do present a serious health risk. So what's the difference between smoking cigarettes (which may also cause organ damage, specifically lung damage) and eating GM food? Cigarette packages are plastered with warnings pointing out the health risk, yet GM foods don't even have to be labeled as such. That's just crazy.
Smoking cigarettes is optional (even though it may not feel that way to those addicted), but eating food is not. We have to eat. We can choose what type of food we eat, but how can we avoid GM food if we don't even know what has been modified?
We know that soya and corn are ‘popular' crops to genetically modify, but now they are trying to introduce GM wheat as well. Have you ever noticed how almost every packaged food these days seems to have a warning on the label that it may have been processed on equipment that also processes peanuts, shellfish, soy, wheat, etc even though the food item itself doesn't contain any of those ingredients? That warning is to protect the manufacturers in the event that someone with an extreme allergy to any of those products going into anaphalitic shock and dying after eating a packaged food product that in itself doesn't actually contain any of those ingredients but may have picked up traces of these other foods.
This implies that food manufacturers either can't or don't clean their equipment well enough to ensure that there is no cross contamination of ingredients. So the same would apply to GM foods. Packaged foods that don't themselves contain GM food could end up being contaminated by GM foods processed on the same machinery.
All the more reason to eat organic, natural foods that you prepare yourself, preferrably that you GROW yourself. For a lot of city dwellers it may be impossible to grow everything you eat. It may be a good strategy to buy local as much as possible from farmer's markets where you can actually talk directly to the growers. Form relationships with them and ask them outright if they grow genetically modified seeds or plants. Try to find an organic Community Supported Agriculture project in your area. Consider growing your own herbs and salad greens in containers. If you do grow your own, be sure to use heirloom seeds which, by definition, will not be genetically modified or artificially hybridized.
For heirloom seeds, try Heirloom Organics. I'll be putting together a list of more resources for growing your own and buying organic foods and I'll update this page when I do.
Image: World In My Hands by bucielo