Demystifying GMOs

GMOs are kind of a hot topic lately with all of the fights throughout the country to make labeling mandatory. People know that they are nasty little somethings that for some reason everybody hates. But do most of us know what they are? Probably not and if my conversations with people are any indication then this is definitely true.

Genetically Modified Organisms are organisms that have had there DNA altered in a laboratory. Genes are inserted into an organisms DNA with the purpose of producing desired characteristics when the DNA is transcribed, the stage when cells are produced and the organism becomes the organism.

The term includes all organisms with genetic modifications, but in the current context what we are usually referring to is food crops. Surely there has been much experimentation with GM animals but as of now there reportedly are none currently being used for food. Soy beans, corn, peanuts and papaya are a few of the more common GM crops. But one must consider the reality of how much a product like corn is used. High fructose corn syrup is an ingredient in a shocking number of products in your grocery store. In things you might suspect such as soft drinks and cookies to things less obvious like your loaf of bread!

Although genetically modified have become dirty words, the crops are designed to do things such as grow more aggressively or more resilient. This could have been great for humanitarian and rehabilitation efforts for those in need and that may have been the idea behind the experimentation that produced the first ever GMO. But like other scientific/medical breakthroughs information and procedures are privatized and positioned to make a select few more rich inside US borders.

What seems to me the most obvious issue with GM foods is that we are organisms as well. We also have DNA and no one can assure us that these modified genes are not interacting with our own DNA in meaningful ways. Concern has been raised about the possibility of gene transfer to our DNA and to the DNA of bacteria in the GI tract… yikes. In theory they can provoke unexpected allergic reaction through allergenic genes from other organisms. The flavr savr tomato, first GM food released for human consumption in 1994 was banned after its developers raised concerns over its carcinogenic properties.

There are also serious environmental concerns such as contamination of conventional crops and gene transfer. The most sinister part of this is that GM food seed distributer Monsanto has sued a canadian farmer after finding their genetically modified crop in his field because they own patents to seeds which can blow for miles and scatter with the wind. The fact of the matter is that the family farm has been disappearing while the prevalence of monoculture factory farms has grown. because of subsidies based on certain crops such as corn, there is incentive for a struggling farmer to produce as much as possible. But different plants extract different nutrients from soil, this is why conventionally grown gardens must switch crops from time to time. Guess how they manage to keep these crops going? With synthetic nutrients produced by Monsanto.

The final piece to the puzzle is the revolving door between monsanto and the FDA. Michael Taylor deputy commissioner of foods was a monsanto lawyer and is just one example of several shared employees between the two. I don’t know about anyone else but a corporation owning patents on seeds that have become the major food crops and the method to keeping them growing while its bored members and associates hold government offices makes me super nervous. There is now more airtight way to control people then by controlling the food supply.

The possible connection to GM foods and cancer is enough to make me outraged about the fact they are all over my grocery store like land mines. But the connections between a corporation like Monsanto and the US government are chilling because one has to think… what is there to be gained from the relationships that obviously exist.