What does GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) mean?

 

Organic Carrots, Turnips, Beets baked into chips.

Organic Carrots, Turnips, Beets baked into chips.

This article should clarify the evolution of GMO’s and help you know what all the hoopla is about. As I live gluten and dairy free, (and I only use natural sweeteners and sea salt) and there has been some question as to whether gluten-free symptoms and dairy allergies are linked to GMO foods I want to share what I have learned in my constant research as a foodie.

We have evolved with our food, starting as ‘hunter/gather’ migrants following herds around the planet. I’ve been to the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain where dug out corrals are some of the earliest examples of the beginning of the domestication of animals by the Muslim Moors over a thousand years ago. Our living with animals brought a whole new slew of bacteria driven diseases and that’s why we moved them into corals and came up with all these religious laws of butchering.

You’ve read about GMO’s but maybe from what seems like a biased point of view from the mass-producers on one side of the coin or the other. I hope that this piece helps make it clear enough for you to continue to make your food purchases with a complete understanding of all that is available in our worldly food supply.

 

Through natural selection-they survived a flood or the farmer chose them.

Heirloom is defined through natural selection-these seeds survived a bad season or the farmer chose to collect these seeds for various reasons.

 

Heirloom

This is natural selection, could be performed by a farmer. Let a plant go to seed, collect the seed and replant the following season. If a plant produced bigger/sweeter/brighter the farmer would replace ‘weaker’ varieties with the better tasting, bigger, stronger seeds. If the field was flooded seeds that were able to handle the wetter season survived, if not up-stream then down-stream.

Farmer's spiced trees or hand pollenate flowers to combine traits for better results.

Hybridization: Farmer’s spliced trees or hand-pollinate flowers to combine traits for better results.

Hybridization

In the 1920’s cross-breading plants became the trend. You might splice a branch from one tree to another or the farmer might pollinate one variety flower with another and ‘create’ a new vegetable or fruit. Seeds from these plants would show varying traits from their parents (think about human siblings, same parents – totally different traits) so it wasn’t reliable to use those seeds, and as a whole lot of what was altered was removing seeds, new seeds were purchased from commercial seed companies. These are annual seeds, needing to be purchased every year. As much as we like seedless fruit, the seed companies like them better.

Genetically Modified Organisms
(GMO, GE, GM, transgenic and genetic modification)

This occurs when a scientist removes genes in their DNA links, from a species of plant, animal, insect, or bacteria and transfers it to another species. Originally adding an animal DNA link to a plant made the plant unrecognizable to insects. This is totally unnatural because it could not happen with nature alone.

In 1996 GMO ‘s became available to farmers. By 2013 close to half of all US cropland was planted with GMOs. 80% of processed foods on supermarket shelves as well as feeds for livestock and farmed fish are GMOs.

Organic corn is a hybrid from grasses cultivated by Native Americans.

Organic corn is a hybrid from grasses cultivated by Native Americans. But 93% of Corn grown today is GMO.

A bacterial gene that naturally produces an insecticide has been inserted in corn and the new corn will produce the same insecticide. GMO accounts for 93% of Corn which is used as animal feed, sweeteners (as in corn syrup and dextrose), in canned goods, and packaged goods as corn starch (pop corn is never GMO, it doesn’t pop).

So here is the red flag for me: Formal safety tests are not mandatory for GMO products to get FDA approval, companies can voluntarily submit studies to the FDA but the FDA doesn’t do it’s own testing. The FDA relies completely on the conclusions reached by the companies that produce and want to market the new GM products. These reports are considered to be company secrets, so the FDA does not make them public. So a typical approval letter to Monsanto reads:
‘It is our understanding that Monsanto has concluded that corn grain and forage derived from the new variety do not raise issues that would require approval by the FDA.”

There is currently the fourth lawsuit that the Center for Food Safety has filed against the FDA for not releasing data to the USDA regarding the data that they have. The CFS accused the agency of failing to provide timely final responses to at least 29 of the Freedom of Information Act requests or appeals.

The CFS says that the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has failed to provide a final response to 10 requests and two appeals. This is the fourth lawsuit CFS has filed against USDA concerning their compliance with records law. According to Cristina Stella, a CFS staff attorney in a news release. “This lawsuit is necessary to stop APHIS from continuing to ignore its duty to provide the public with information that affects farmers, communities, and the environment.”

Does it taste different? Maybe not. Does it have different nutritional value? NO, GMO’s may have the same nutritional value, although I want my food to take nutrients from the soil and sun and not from chemicals put into the water that is replacing any soil that the vegetable is grown in. But that’s just me, I don’t eat flour that is so stripped of nutrients that they have to be added back into a packaged product. My body is very sensitive and I find it’s just fine with authentic, real food.

Cabbage Patch

Growing your own organic garden is so labor intensive that it might make it easier for you to pay a higher price for organic products.

So if you’ve only experienced fruit or vegetables without bug marks you probably have never had authentic fruit. And that brings me to the environmental impact of GMO’s, which has the potential to be devastating. The ‘benefits’ of using GMO’s in the field can be less pesticide sprays. A bacteria that destroys the digestive tract of insects (Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is non-toxic to humans is being used. Farmer’s today use 10% of the pesticides that they did before GMO, which might explain Monsanto’s aggressive court actions against farmers that don’t buy their seeds that are GM to resist the Monsanto weed killers.

Some GM’s are formed to resist their counterpart weed killer, so that the fields can be sprayed with weed killing poison without killing the GMO’d vegetable producing plant.

Some GMO’s produce a toxin that kills insects in the form of a built-in insect repellent, enough so that the  fruit or vegetable qualifies as an insect repellent.

GMO crops require less tilling of the soil, traditionally the top soil is turned under with a plow, allowing the remains from last season’s crops to be used as compost, putting carbon into the soil. 34% of farmer’s have stopped tilling, which is an option when you don’t have weeds this requires less, labor-time to prepare the fields. Higher amounts of herbicide need to be applied to no-till fields to kill weeds that would have been effectively controlled by plowing and cultivation.

The use of glyphosate has exploded since no-till farming has been practiced, to about 2/3 of a pound per acre. The World Health Organization concluded that the chemical is “probably carcinogenic to humans” after reviewing research cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma among farmers who used glyphosate and experiments showing that rats and mice fed food contaminated with it developed tumors. California EPA is pushing to label glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup) as carcinogenic.

Experts on both sides agree that the extensive use of glyphosate has led to the evolution of herbicide resistance in at least 14 species in the U.S. and this has resulted in more powerful alternatives. The herbicide 2,4-D comes straight from Agent Orange, which has been linked to cancer and reproductive problems.

These are 'table beets' not 'sugar beets'.

These are ‘table beets’ not ‘sugar beets’.

For your label reading information: 93% of Canola oil is GMO and this becomes margarine and cooking oil (which are uses for GMO soy and corn and cotton), and feed for farmed fish and livestock; 96% of cotton; Soy? 94% are GMO; 30% of Alfalfa is GMO. 95% of Sugar Beets are GMO’s, which is used to product table sugar, dextrose, brown sugar, fructose (along with corn) powdered sugar and caramel coloring.

OK, so you might have considered the play of GMO in dairy products from livestock and livestock feed, but  it’s more the Molds, Bacteria and Enzymes and Yeast that are GMO’d in the lab that also becomes lactic acid, cheese, xanthan gum, wine, vitamins and amino acids, rBST of growth hormones and artificial and natural flavorings.

Do you know what they called Organic Food 75 years ago? Food. They called it ‘food’. And it came with partially eaten leaves and had bugs or worms in the vegetables and fruits. As my grandparents and parents grew our food, I came to seeing the bug marks as sharing our food with the animals that we love to live with. If the bugs don’t eat the leaves and the worms don’t eat the apples, the birds don’t eat the bugs and the worms, then we’ll have no chickens, no eggs, no birds, no songs, no good.

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