Ask the Health Expert: Genetically Modified Organisms

Genetically modified organisms are those whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a lab through genetic engineering, thus creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature. One of the main concerns is how genetically modified foods may affect human health. These effects range from allergic reactions, toxicity, organ damage to gene transfer. Depending on in which country you live GMO’S may be unlabeled. There are no specific laws in Canada allowing for identification of GMO foods and therefore may be unknowingly abundant in your diet.

Many of these GMO crops are used to make ingredients we use every day such as, corn starch, corn syrup, soyabean oil, canola oil, granulated sugar potatoes, summer squash, apples, and papaya. More than 95% of animals used for meat and dairy are fed on GMO crops. Even Atlantic salmon has been “modified genetically” and has apparently passed the “safety protocols”. Aspartame a widely used artificial sweetener is manufactured from a genetically modified bacterium. Zucchini has been found to have a toxic protein inserted into its genome which is now found in human blood including that of pregnant women and fetuses. This shows that it is making its way into our bodies and not being broken down and excreted as we have been assured is so.

There are concerns with the process of GMO risk assessment applications. These documents are relied upon to “prove” the safety of GMO’S. However, the experiments described in them are not of a high standard and are often inadequate and sloppily executed. The scientific controls are often missing, procedures and reagents are sketchy, and the results are often ambiguous or cannot be interpreted properly. So, we see that those government regulators examining the data are effectively relying on the word of the applicant that the research supports whatever they are “claiming”. Red flags are ignored when there are unexpected outcomes in the experiments.

Many GMO plants have been manipulated to contain their own insecticides as they have transgenes inserted into their genome to have them make a protein-based toxin taken from a bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis these plants are known as Bt plants and the toxin is known as Crytoxin. This bacterium is almost all but indistinguishable from the anthrax bacterium. Many Bt crops contain many of these insecticides and they are similar in structure to Ricin. Ricin is an extremely dangerous plant toxin, a tiny amount of which was used to assassinate the Bulgarian writer and defector Georgi Markov in 1978. It is self-evident that science needs an in depth understanding how GMO transgenes function in plants, animals, and humans so that “appropriate experiments “can be used to prove their safety. Cry proteins have been found to be toxic to isolated human cells. [Mizuki et al. 1999].

GMO’S are often resistant to herbicides which encourages some farmers to spray large quantities of them on crops. Commercial soybeans sold today contain excesses of the herbicide Roundup a glyphosate produced by Monsanto. Glyphosate is no longer considered as harmless by the World Health Organization. Despite regulators in Europe, the US, and Canada repeatedly attesting to corporate assurances of the safety of glyphosate more than fifty corporate studies have been kept secret by the corporations and regulators alike. In 2021 these studies were analyzed by two independent scientists – Armen Nersesyan and Seigfried Knasmueller from the Institute of Cancer Research, Department of Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna. The results of the analysis of the industry study released in June 2021 found them to be suspect with an array of shortcomings making them totally unreliable and totally outdated. [see website: usrtk.org/pesticides/glyphosate-health-concerns/]

Many studies recently published have linked glyphosate to cancer, endocrine disruption, fertility and reproductive concerns, liver disease, microbiome disruption and harmful impact on bees and monarch butterflies.

GMO’S were not designed to feed the world, but they exist to gain patent rights over seeds, plant breeding and control in the direction to benefit greedy corporate agribusiness and pharmaceutical giants. All this at the expense of farmers, human health, and the natural world. Gouging farmers and raising prices fourfold and controlling the price of seeds constricts the market for farmers who are now left with fewer choices and severe restrictions relating to “owned” rights over commercial seed and incidentally over any GMO organism. Today only four companies control 60% of the seed market and certain crops are controlled by Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, and Dow owing 80% of all corn and 70% of all soyabeans. The higher cost of seeds has far outpaced the price farmers receive for their corn and soya crops, shrinking their margins and causing financial hardship.

Contamination from GMO’S in agriculture is well documented. It is impossible to prevent a GMO plant from contaminating a neighbouring field through pollination by birds, insects, and wind. The genetic drift is uncontrollable and impossible to contain. Present regulations are not holding seed companies accountable for the damage they do. This leaves the farmer, animals and humans who are their victims experiencing economic and other detrimental effect.

The best way to avoid GMO’S is to purchase organically certified foods or buy from a respected grower in your area that you know and trust. Certified organic products cannot contain genetically engineered ingredients. Canada does not allow us the luxury of choosing what we wish to put into our bodies as there is no legislation in place to identify such products. Staying away from all processed foods and using foods that are wholesome and as close to their natural form as possible. Today if you ever needed a good excuse to shop at local farmsteads and stores carrying locally produced food and produce now would be a great time to start!

The website: nutritionstudies.org/gmo-dangers-facts-you-need-to-know/ has been an invaluable tool in my research.

Written by: Nathalie McNeill, Fountain Head Health Store & Cafe, Fergus

Author: LivingSpaces

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