A comprehensive discussion on genetically modified organisms (GMO) and its impact on human health.
WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?
GMO, where do we start? Let’s start with the basics. Genetic engineering (GE) is the process of manually adding new DNA to an organism. The goal is to add one or more new traits that are not already found in that organism. GE can occur within both plants and animals.
A genetically modified organism (GMO), also known as a transgenic organism, is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using GE techniques.
Recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology involves joining together (recombining) DNA molecules from two different species/sources to produce a new genetic combination.
GM simply stands for, genetically modified.
TYPES OF GMOS
There are various reasons for genetically modifying crops, such as:
to make the crop insect resistant
to make it herbicide resistant
to increase its nutritional value
to make it disease resistant
to ensure post-harvest improvements
The most controversial is herbicide resistance. It is of the greatest concern & arguably, causes the most harm to people.
GM HERBICIDE RESISTANT CROPS
Examples: corn, soy, cotton, canola, rice, alfalfa, beet, flax
Herbicides are chemicals that kill weed species that compete with planted crops for water, sun, space and nutrients. GE has been used to provide crop species with resistance to specific chemical herbicides. An example is ‘Roundup Ready’ crops. Roundup Ready crops have a gene that allows them to grow in the presence of the herbicide. Roundup is made by Monsanto and its main ingredient is glyphosate.
How does it affect humans?
GMOs have not yet been proven to be safe for human consumption . Scientists do not know what the true effect of these organisms are on the environment before releasing them. Changing one gene does not necessarily change just one function. Many studies claiming the safety of GE-foods are industry-funded and only last for 90 days . In order to prove that GMO foods are safe, more independent, long-term testing is necessary.
However, with the use of Roundup on the crops – to kill the weeds amongst the crops – consumers are without a doubt, ingesting the chemical Glyphosate, a dangerous toxin to humans. Although, a recent study found that Roundup, which includes not only glyphosate but a combination of a number of other chemicals, is 125 times more toxic than glyphosate alone . Also, more & more Roundup is being used as its effectiveness has declined due to the spread of weed resistance to glyphosate. Roundup is also now being replaced by newly approved GMO crop resistant herbicides 2,4-D and Dicamba .
While Monsanto insists that Roundup is as safe to humans as aspirin, Dr Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Dr Anthony Samsel reveal how glyphosate wreaks havoc on human health. The two key problems caused by glyphosate in the body are nutritional deficiencies and systemic toxicity. Their report on the research, published in the journal, Entropy argues that glyphosate residues, found in commonly consumed foods such as GE sugar, corn, soy and wheat, “enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease” . Glyphosate causes extreme disruption of the gut microbiomes function and lifecycle, meaning your gut bacteria are the key targets of glyphosate’s mechanism in harming us. Now for someone like myself who has leaky gut, this is of great interest & concern for me. It is of utmost importance that I don’t ingest anymore GM products because, as we have now learnt, all disease begins in the gut. What we must also be mindful of is that, just because you have not identified any current symptoms, that does not mean that there are not changes going on in your body. Alzheimer’s for example, begins manifesting itself up to 30 years prior to the onset of any obvious symptoms associated with it.
Dr Seneff makes clear correlations between increased glyphosate use over recent years and skyrocketing autism rates as well as a number of other diseases such as Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, Parkinson’s, cancer , diabetes, obesity & heart disease. (Youtube interview with Dr Seneff below)
Recently, in March 2015, the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is probably carcinogenic to humans . Two of the pesticides — tetrachlorvinphos and parathion — were rated as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. Three of them — malathion, diazinon and glyphosate — were rated as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
Ib Pedersen, a highly experienced Danish pig farmer, who supplies Danish Crown, one of the biggest companies in Denmark more than 13,000 pigs a year, saw immediate devastation to his pig herd after feeding them GM soy. He noticed pig deformities, spontaneous abortions, and intestinal health issues. He then switched to a non-GMO variety of feed and in only a short time, he experienced, “less abortions, more piglets born in each litter, and breeding animals living longer.” His animals returned to being healthy and he no longer had to spend money on medicine to treat unhealthy animals .
Another harmful product to be aware of in GM crops is formaldehyde. A report titled, ‘2012 Nutritional Analysis: Comparison of GMO Corn versus Non-GMO Corn’ discovered formaldehyde was present in GE corn. It was recorded at a level that is 200 times the amount that studies have determined to be toxic to animals. Formaldehyde destroys DNA and can cause cancer. Formaldehyde does not exist in the free-state in a healthy normal plant but it can come from degradation of glyphosate, which would be the reason for the high levels in GM crops.
With all of this convincing evidence, let’s also not forget that in 2009, a French court found Monsanto guilty of lying and falsely advertising its Roundup herbicide as ‘biodegradable’, ‘environmentally friendly’ and claiming it ‘left the soil clean’ …nice try!
GM INSECT RESISTANT CROPS
Examples: corn, cotton, potato, tomato
To reduce or eliminate the need for application of pesticides, some plants have been genetically engineered to produce proteins that are selectively harmful to insect pests. For example, when a crop is modified with a short sequence of genes from the Bt plant, that contains a gene from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, the crop will then express the crystal protein that Bt makes to selectively kills insects. The Bt toxin dissolves in the high pH insect gut and becomes active. The toxin then attacks the gut cells of the insect, punching holes in the lining. The Bt spores spill out of the gut and germinate in the insect causing death within a couple days.
How does it affect humans?
As far back as 1999, the research paper “Fine Structural Changes in the Ileum of Mice Fed on Endotoxin – Treated Potatoes and Transgenic Potatoes” showed evidence that the Bt Cry 1 gene used in the modification for insect resistance also damaged the ileum (third portion of the small intestine) of mice.
GM IMPROVED NUTRITION CONTENT
Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, ie vitamins and minerals in a food, to improve the nutritional quality. Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through biological means.
Biofortified crops for increased nutritional value focus only on a few nutrients such as iron, zinc and vitamin A and are aimed at developing countries. The thinking that producing GM crops with improved nutritional content for third world countries is flawed in that, malnourished people are usually not deficient in just one or two nutrients, but in many. Focusing on a crop that can deliver one or two nutrients is unhelpful because a balance of nutrients is needed for proper absorption. For example, in order to absorb vitamin A, people need to have enough fat in their diet. Therefore, that problem would need to be addressed before they could benefit from vitamin A-enriched food. Also, dosage is difficult to control and certain nutrients may be needed by one person, yet be excessive and potentially dangerous for the next.
GM DISEASE RESISTANT CROPS
Examples: papaya, squash, plum
“Engineering a crop to resist disease sounds more appealing than inserting a gene to make a crop produce its own pesticide or withstand herbicide” as stated by Jeffrey Smith in an article he wrote about GM disease resistant crops. This area of GM does get a little bit more complicated and so I suggest you go & read his article on it right here, instead of me accidentally butchering the actual scientific detail! >> DISEASE RESISTANT CROPS <<
IT'S TIME TO MAKE A DECISION
There are always going to be arguments both, for & against a case, but the proof is in the mounting movement against GM foods. If GM foods are not a cause for concern, then why would a company such as Chipotle – a fast food chain company – make such a drastic, unpopular decision to use only non-GM products? Why would Target, Trader Joes and a host of other large companies feel the pressure to increase their organic product range? Why would up to a dozen countries & regions ban GM products? Russia banned them last year and restricted their import for the next 10 years .
I’m going to end it here, but as you can imagine, there is so much to read, research and it really is like going down a rabbit hole. Although, hopefully I have convinced you that this is an epidemic that we need to stop – because if you’re all about living limitlessly, then you need to be informed and make a change! ‘How’ you may ask? With our dollars! When we go to the grocery store, let’s make different decisions based on our newly-armed knowledge. Let’s not buy the products that contain any GM ingredients. Let’s choose to buy more organic products where possible – especially when it comes to fresh fruit & vegetables. Let’s try to stop buying items in cans, jars or anything packaged actually!….Ok, ok….too much too soon? Alright then, baby steps, let’s try with…READING THE INGREDIENTS!
ps…here’s a whole heap of videos, links and extra reading for you to indulge in.
Jeffrey Smith interviews Dr Stephanie Seneff
Jeffrey Smith from the Institute of Responsible Technology, a well known and respected anti-GMO activist interviews Dr Stephanie Seneff on the effects of glyphosate on humans – this is a MUST WATCH!
GMO lobbyist refuses to drink “safe” Roundup!?
This lobbyist for GMOs says it’s safe but refuses to drink it on national TV…what the…???
If you missed the podcast I did with Fran Murrell from Madge, then watch it here >>Interview with Fran Murrell <<
GM – Hidden Ingredients
We will find GM products in a lot of foods that are hidden in the ingredients. So how do you know they are there? Take a look at this list to familiarise yourself with the ingredients you should be looking for on labels – because they are not obvious. We want to be looking for the ‘invisible’ GM ingredients. Did you know that you could be drinking GM products in your beer? You may find that additional copies of the Endo-protease gene from the fungus Aspergillus niger has been modified to provide an alternative treatment for brewers to prevent chill haze formation in the final beer. I’m not saying that it’s necessarily bad…but did you know that? Or did you think about the fact that the meat you are eating was fed on Roundup Ready lucerne???…so by eating the meat, you are still ingesting the Roundup! .
Click here for the >>INVISIBLE INGREDIENTS SHOPPING GUIDE<<
Just in case you missed it and you’re not sure why there is such a focus on Monsanto, read their top 12 products and what they do, then make up your own mind. Aside from being the creators of GMOs, they are also responsible for products such as Saccharin, polystyrene, Agent Orange, Roundup (glyphosate), nuclear and atom bombs, aspartame and much more.
ARTICLE – Is Monsanto on the downslide?
An article written in March 2015 by Jonathan Latham of the Bioscience Resource outlines the possible tipping point against GM and Monsanto.
GM Products allowed in Australia
Food Standards Australia & New Zealand
Jeffrey Smith’s website – Institute for Responsible Technology
Jeffrey Smith’s website – Insititute for responsible technology
www.gmoid.com.au – GMO Labelling in Australia
 http://omicsonline.org/open-access/detection-of-glyphosate-in-malformed-piglets-2161-0525.1000230.pdf – warning images are disturbing
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