Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Can of Worms

I opened a can of worms two weeks ago when I posted about Victor, the Russian who gained weight during his 5 month stay in the U.S., and mentioned genetically altered foods. Since then I have been doing a lot of reading, became a member of Greenpeace and have dramatically altered my food choices. I guess you could call me a tree hugger now, if you like. I don't want to be an alarmist but what I learned is frightening.

Ignorance is bliss so if you are American and don't want your world turned upside down, stop reading now. In the U.S., the FDA does not require companies to label foods with warnings that they are GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Many countries have completely banned the use of GMO's or, at the very least, require anything genetically altered to be labeled as such.

The main reason for the use of GMO's is basically economic, to increase the yield of a crop. The plant becomes hardier and more resistant to herbicides so farmers can spray more chemicals and not worry about killing the plant. Produce is also genetically altered to make it look better or bigger. In the infinite food chain, the animals we eat are often on a GMO diet so one way or another we get our daily dose.

Beneath public radar, there has been a silent infiltration of GMOs into our food supply. About 75% percent of our processed foods contain some form of genetically modified ingredient. It's not the produce in your local supermarket that you need to avoid (with the exception of some Hawaiian papaya), most of the GMO's are found in the long list of ingredients on boxes of processed foods. You can avoid GMO's by knowing what to look for. The Non-GMO Shopper's Guide is particularly helpful.

The dangers of GMO food is not really known, but some species of animal when offered a GMO food versus a non-GMO food will avoid the GMO one. Occasionally they will do this to the point of starvation, as if they have an intuitive sense of the danger of this food.

Scientists who carried out experiments on GMO's say that it’s too early to draw conclusions about the health hazards of GMO. They insist there is a need to carry out comprehensive research. In the meantime, many of us are unknowingly ingesting genetically altered food.

The idea that consumers have tremendous power is not wishful thinking, it’s a fact. Just look at the effectiveness of the consumer-driven strategy we’re now seeing with high fructose corn syrup. Within the past few months, most major corporations have taken HFCS out of their products due to consumer demand and the manufacturers proudly label their products HFCS free.

Refusing to buy GMO food products will create pressure on the marketplace, without which there is little hope. Download the shopping guide, and make note of which brands to buy and which ones to avoid like the plague.

You'll find some sensible tips to help avoid genetically modified food at For us, since we are careful about what we put in our bodies, it's just one more step to being the best we can be; healthy and thin! So excuse me while I step off my soapbox.


Genie @ Diet of 51 said...

I appreciate that you're educating me on this. I had no idea, and it's scary.

Good for you, taking on this cause and spreading the word.

Patsy said...

Scary, isn't it. :o( Well done for doing something about it and for supporting Greenpeace! :o)

midlife_swimmer said...

Thank You!

Bobbie's Babbles said...

Thanks for the post and education. If I had my druthers, I would stick my head in the sand, but wanting to be a good mom, I need to help my kids make the right choices so that they can live long healthy lives.

Linda Pressman said...

I think I heard something about this on NPR too, Ellen. And thanks for that disgusting picture of the literal can of worms. Still, knowledge is important.

Cheryl said...

Another good reason to eliminate as much processed food from our diets as possible! Whenever something is processed, something has been done to it that makes it more convenient than the original product. Our taste buds then develop a liking for all that convenience until we don't even like the original product! In our house, we're just returning to nature...literally. If it grows in the ground, we eat it...if it has a label, we really try not to. Great options for eggs and meat are the local farmers market.

Great post, Ellen. This information needs to get out!

Friend of the Bear said...

Hi Ellen. You're right about consumer pressure. In the UK it's entirely down to consumers that GMOs are unacceptable.

The government wanted to allow GMO testing - but protesters destroyed the small quantities of crops that were being grown at secret sites.

With the entire weight of the media and public opinion against them, GMOs are restricted in my country. And I'm glad about that!

It's amazing that Americans care so little about what they are eating. The few bits of GMO that do seep into the UK are from American grown corn. To us it is a scandal that some of this corn ends up in our food - generally it is due to corn from different sources being mixed together ie A MISTAKE.

Supermarkets have not been under legal pressure to screen out all GMOs - they have done it to appease the customer. Because people will only buy at shops that don't sell GMO contaminated products.

So you CAN get rid of GMOs if you want.

Bearfriend xx