We Currently Eat Genetically Engineered Food, But Don’t Know It
A genetically engineered food is a plant or meat product that has had its DNA artificially altered in a laboratory by genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria, in order to produce foreign compounds in that food. This type of genetic alteration is not found in nature, and is experimental. The correct scientific term is “transgenics,” and is also often referred to as (GE) genetically engineered.
Example: Genetically Modified corn has been engineered in a laboratory to produce pesticides in its own tissue. GMO Corn is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency as an Insecticide, but is sold unlabeled.
The Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods Are Unclear
Unlike the strict safety evaluations required for the approval of new drugs, the safety of genetically engineered foods for human consumption is not adequately tested.
There have been NO long-term studies conducted on the safety of genetically engineered foods on humans. The issue of GM food safety was first discussed at a meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and biotech representatives in 1990. The “substantial equivalence” concept was proposed in early 1996. The adoption of the concept of substantial equivalence allowed permission to market and sell new foods without any safety or toxicology tests as long as they were not too different in chemical composition to foods already on the market. To decide if a modified product is substantially equivalent, the product is tested by the manufacturer for unexpected changes in a limited set of variables such as toxins, nutrients or allergens that are known to be present in the unmodified food. If these tests show no significant difference between the modified and unmodified products, then no further food safety testing is required.
Much of the World Already Requires Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods
64 countries with over 40% of the world’s population already label genetically engineered foods, including the entire European Union. Even China and Russia label genetically engineered foods. The U.S. should lead on this important issue. What do these countries know that we don’t?
The Most Common Application of Genetic Engineering in Food
These are the products (and their derivatives) that are most likely to be genetically engineered:
- Soybeans – Gene taken from bacteria (Agrobacterium sp. strain CP4) and inserted into soybeans to make them more resistant to herbicides.
- Corn – There are two main varieties of GE corn. One has a Gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis inserted to produce the Bt toxin, which poisons Lepidoteran (moths and butterflies) pests. Present in high fructose corn syrup and glucose/fructose which is prevalent in a wide variety of foods in America.
- Canola – Gene added/transferred to make crop more resistant to herbicide.
- Sugar beets – Gene added/transferred to make crop more resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.
- Cotton – engineered to produce Bt toxin. The seeds are pressed into cottonseed oil, which is a common ingredient in vegetable oil and margarine.
- Dairy – Cows injected with GE hormone rBGH/rBST; possibly fed GM grains and hay.
- Sugar. In 2012 the FDA approved GMO Beet Sugars to be sold on the market under the name…. “SUGAR” So now, when we go to buy “All Natural” Breyer’s Ice Cream, we can’t even know for sure that we are actually eating regular natural cane sugar or not. If you see “CANE SUGAR” there’s a good chance it’s not GMO. This is one of the biggest frustrations with labeling, as sugar is in so many things, and we might be avoiding food that POSSIBLY has GMO sugar, but really does not.
- Papayas – Hawaiian varieties only.
- Zucchini & Crooked Neck Squash
- Sweet Corn (40%) of the sweet corn grown in 2013 has BT toxin in it. It is best to buy sweet corn at your local farmer’s market.
- Corn sold directly to the consumer at Roadside stands / markets. Buy organic corn, popcorn, corn chips only.
- Baked goods: Often has one or more of the common GE ingredients in them. Why do we need corn or soy in our bread, snacks or desserts? It’s hard to find mixes to use as well. Some brands avoid GEs, find one you like and try to stick with it. Organic is one option, learning how to cook brownies, etc, from scratch with your own organic oils is another.