What’s a “GMO” and Why Should You Care?
I’m not sure about you, but the last thing I want anyone telling me is what to eat. Heaven knows that we’ve been bombarded with enough. But I have to admit, despite all of the food-obsessing that we Americans are known for (you know, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, etc.), there is something that most of us missed: and that’s these new little proteins that scientists began inserting into our food in the 1990s.
As you may already know, food is made up of proteins. Lots of them. And it’s those proteins that can wreak havoc on someone with food allergies. Because a person with food allergies has an immune system that sees these proteins as “foreign” and launches an inflammatory response to drive them out. That response can be a runny nose, watery eyes, or a cough or it can be something as life threatening as anaphylactic shock where a person stops breathing.
But let’s not focus on that right now. Let’s get back to those new little proteins that scientists started inserting into our food in 1994. Why would they do this? Is there really a need to inject foreign proteins into our food? And why now? Wasn’t it fine the way it was when we were kids?
Well, in order to enhance profitability for the food industry, scientists began using new technologies, including some sci-fi sounding things like “gene guns” to blast new ingredients into the genetic material of our food supply so that food production would be more profitable. And in most cases, they did it at the seed level. So corn, they blasted it. Soybeans? Yep, they blasted those, too. All because corn and soy are used to feed livestock. But as if that wasn’t enough, on top of that, they started blasting the cows themselves. Well, they didn’t exactly blast the cows, but rather started injecting them with some new proteins and hormones that helped the cows make more milk.
All sounds good, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want more food?
The problem is that when they started doing this just over 15 years ago, no one knew what the long term effects of blasting our food with new technology and creating foreign proteins never-before-used-in-the-human-food-supply might be. So if those added growth hormones getting injected into our cows found their way into our milk and those added hormones just might cause early puberty, fertility issues or anything else, we simply didn’t have any long term studies to tell us that they weren’t dangerous.
And those proteins getting blasted into our soy and corn? Are we allergic to the new foreign proteins created in the blasting process? Well, we simply didn’t’ know that either when they were introduced in the late 1990s because no allergenicity tests had been developed to assess the impact of these novel proteins and allergens. All we know is that they didn’t deliberately introduce any new proteins when they started blasting. But if any proteins were created in the blast (you know, kind of like genetic rubble), well, there hasn’t been any way to test for that.
In essence, just over fifteen years ago, we started running a live experiment….on us.
And it’s for those reasons that most developed countries (you know, like France, Spain, Australia, Japan and everyone that we compete with in the global marketplace) decided to take a wait and see approach to see what the long-term effects of these new proteins and “genetic rubble” might be. So beginning in 1994, these countries either refused to allow these proteins into their food supply, because they hadn’t yet been proven safe, or they insisted on labeling them so that consumers could make an informed choice when it came to exposing their families to this new technology and foreign proteins.
Except for here in the U.S. We took a different approach. We said, you know, this new technology is great for the agricultural business and hasn’t yet (note: yet) been proven to cause harm, so let’s allow these proteins into the food supply and wait and see what happens.
Well, if truth is any indicator, our kids don’t seem to be digesting these foreign proteins all too well. And while correlation is not causation, the stunning increases that we are seeing in the number of kids with food allergies (not to mention the big kids raising them) since the introduction of these foreign proteins into the food supply in 1994 should serve as a canary in the coalmine that maybe this new technology just might not be as safe as the scientists blasting these proteins into our food supply (and then patenting them for their novelty) had hoped it would be.
Feeling a bit duped? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Most of us had no idea that these foreign proteins started creeping into our food supply back in the 1990s. How could we? They were never labeled. But now that you’re up to speed, tell a friend, tell your mom and let’s get down to the business of protecting our little ones the way kids around the world have been protected for the last fifteen years and get some labels on this “genetic rubble” and these “GMO”s while we still can.
FIVE TIPS about GMOs and why you should care
- Introduced in the 1990s, this new technology was developed to enhance profitability for the food industry.
- The technology allows food scientists to inject chemicals and food proteins into the genetic material of our food.
- Eaters in other countries were given a warning sign when these foods were introduced in 1994 and labels were put on their food that essentially said: “Not yet proven safe”.
- In the US, this new technology and the proteins it creates were introduced in 1994 without labels under the premise: “Not yet proven dangerous” while being patented by the agricultural industry for their unique characteristics.
- Unlabeled food proteins that contain chemicals and other foreign ingredients can trigger severe allergic reactions that include difficulty breathing, asthma, eczema, inflammmatory gut conditions and in some cases life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
Bottom line: Americans have the right to know what’s going into their food just like eaters in other countries.
Ready to do something about it? Learn more with the Non GMO Project http://www.nongmoproject.org about where these hidden proteins can be found in your kitchen and how you can avoid them.