2014

Power of Good

Power of Good Health Monthly Column

What Could Be Lurking in your Favorite Café Snacks…

Editor’s Note
With healthy living and healthful foods constantly being brought to the market, it is important that the following topic gets addressed. We understand that the majority of our readers are in the coffee industry. However, some of our advertisers are promoting this healthy lifestyle trend. Many cafes and coffee shops serve food with the label non-GMO printed on it, and some people may not understand what it means. Well, this article is here to help explain the meaning behind the label.

We all eat and, intuitively, most of us do not trust food if we know somebody has tampered with it. What would be your response if you learned that genetically modified (GM) foods have been totally untested for their effects on our health? That it is industry influence, not sound science, which has put them into our mouths? Further, overwhelming scientific research indicates that the foods should never have been approved.

Having discovered the truth for themselves, our European neighbors have outright refused our genetically modified foods. In essence, the EU has told the World Trade Organization and the United States, “We will pay the fines, but we will not buy the poison.” More startling, even hungry African nations will not accept GM foods.

Thus far, the producers of these foods have avoided labeling because they know it would decrease sales. How do you like that?

We’re Eating Genetically Modified Food. Is it Safe?
There has not been a single animal or human study demonstrating that these foods are safe for consumption. Yet today, in the US, they are present in 60-70 percent of processed foods. (This is bound to increase since GM potatoes are now in supermarkets.)

Today, most non-organic US corn, soy, cotton, and sugar beets are genetically modified organisms (GMO). Combined, these provide a vast portion of the sweeteners, fats, and additives used by food manufacturers. Plus, they comprise nearly all of the feed used by the meat industry.

The Fix is In
In the early 1990s, the scientific consensus at the FDA was that GM foods were inherently dangerous and might create hard-to-detect allergies, poisons, gene transfer to gut bacteria, new diseases, and nutritional problems. Those scientists recommended rigorous long term testing of these new foods!

GM “foods” have been creeping into our food supply since the mid-1990s. Unless you buy only certified organic or Label Project foods and eat only foods made from scratch, then you are eating GM foods and so is your family.

What is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering involves blasting DNA arbitrarily into an established gene sequence. This crude insertion process interrupts the genome’s programming in unpredictable ways. It can:
1)    Mutate or permanently turn genes on or off
2)    Alter RNA or proteins in plants
3)    Produce allergies or toxicities
4)    Trigger further impacts, which continue to occur through time

After the insertion takes place, the changes are not stable. In other words, as the genome continues to adapt, changes are idiosyncratic and continue to happen. This is how two ears of corn from the same stalk may vary in nutritional content, or even appearance.

Splice ‘n’ Dice
The public perception of this technology is that genes are like Lego blocks, independent pieces that snap into place.

For centuries, gardeners, farmers, and ranchers have crossbred plants or animals to increase the odds of getting desired traits. This is a technique (hybredizing) that relies on reproduction to pass on genes. A simple example is crossing apple varieties to insure sweet and hardy fruit. Sometimes these experiments work out; sometimes they do not.

On the other hand, genetic modification is extremely haphazard. There is nothing precise about it. When genetic crops are engineered, a gene is “inserted” randomly into a code sequence that has evolved over hundreds of millions of years.

Most frequently a gene from one species is inserted into the gene sequence of a different species. It is a random insertion because we have neither the techniques nor the understanding to place the genes. Using the word insert as though we exert some control is grossly misleading.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), food is now responsible for twice the number of illnesses in the United States that scientists originally thought seven years ago.

The above quote is from an article about contaminated food, which appeared in the New York Times (March 18, 2001). Over the seven years referred to, there were 35,000 deaths, over two million hospitalizations, and 500 million illnesses related to food. And, these are only the reported cases.

In 1990, before GM foods, not one state population had over 19 percent obesity. Now, 20 percent or more citizens are obese in every state. Twelve states have 30 percent obesity!!!

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine takes the stand that GM foods actually cause adverse health effects. They ask that physicians advise patients to avoid GM food. In fact, the GM foods most of us eat every day were mutated with the same process recounted above.

Your Right to Know. What can you Do?
1.     Demand Labeling. The overwhelming majority of U.S. Citizens want GMOs indicated on food labels.
2.     Call, Write, or Visit your elected representatives to ask for their support in labeling.
3.     Buy local, organic, or foods that are labeled non-GMO. Knowing your food is safe makes a difference.

Additional Resources:
The NON GMO Project

Siri Khalsa is the editor of Nutrition News, and she has been writing for the publication for many years. She has the passion and dedication to educate readers on the health benefits on tea and coffee.

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