By Kristina Baker
Editor’s note: The title of this occasional column comes from a nickname the town gave her in the 1970s when she was campaigning against the use of 2,4-D on the fuelbreaks around here.
These days, unless we’re eating only organic, we’re eating GMOs. Today, Genetically Modified Organisms, also referred to as Genetically Engineered, can be found in 80 percent of all processed foods. Some 30,000 products, including frozen, in jars, cans, bags and boxes, contain one or more GE additives. Soy and corn are the most prevalent, coming to us in the form of flours, pastes, oils, sweeteners, binders and fillers.
When GMOs first came on the market in 1994, they were subject to the World Health Organization’s guidelines, requiring a testing period of 90 days. These tests were performed for Roundup, the commercial name for the herbicide glyphosate. The mice showed no adverse reactions in the 90-day testing period, so the chemical was registered as “safe.”
The boom began, and GMOs spread across the nation, indeed, the world. As of 2013, 85 percent of corn grown in the U.S. is GE; 91 percent of soybeans; 88 percent of cotton; 90 percent of cotton seed oil; 95 percent of sugar beets; 90 percent of canola oil. Then there’s the GE alfalfa being fed to livestock and dairy cows.
And don’t forget Aspartame, a totally engineered “organism” that tastes sweet. It’s in diet sodas, so please stop drinking them.
Eventually, the French decided to do some long-term testing with Roundup Ready Corn. They found that at about 18 months of age — the equivalent of middle age in humans — female rats developed breast tumors, and male rats suffered from kidney and liver problems. Most of the test rats died prematurely.
The European Union and Russia have both banned GMOs.
Last week, the World Health Organization issued a report indicating that glyphosate likely causes cancer. Likely? When we eat foods that contain GMOs, we are ingesting this herbicide, a chemical that our bodies have never been exposed to before.
There are also concerns about GE plants contaminating non-GMO strains, both domestic and wild.The seeds created by GE plants are called “terminal” because they cannot reproduce. Farmers must purchase new seeds every year. They also must purchase the herbicides to spray on the tolerant plants, and they can use more, without hurting the plants.
Meanwhile, the entire plant, including the parts we eat, are exposed to copious amounts of Roundup, or some other toxic chemical. GE produce looks good on the outside, but inside there are genes our bodies are not familiar with. We have never been exposed to these substances before; they are created in a laboratory.
Eat organic and demand labeling. Your health, and that of your family is worth it. Save money, grow your own.