What is a GMO and Why Should I Care?

You may have heard of GMO’s before. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. They can be plants, animals, bacteria or any other kind of living thing whose genetic code has been altered or combined with the genetic code of another organism. It is not the same as hybridization or cross breeding, say plums and apricots for example. GMOs are entirely different; they have altered DNA codes that are meticulously synthesized and in a lab.

The biggest name in the GMO business is undoubtedly food giant Monsanto. This is the same entity that created Agent Orange long ago, which you may be familiar with. This chemical is known to have caused serious health problems veterans are still facing today. Today this same company that created it is playing a big role in our food supply. A compound in Agent Orange has even been inserted into the DNA of corn and soybeans, and has received EPA approval (R).

The inherent dangers are many. However it is almost always impossible to tell whether a food product has been genetically altered or not. Monsanto has spent millions fighting GMO labeling laws in the United States, which would allow people the right to know what is in their food.  Rumor has it, however, that you can check at the grocery store by paying attention to produce codes. Supposedly produce that has a code starting with an 8 has been genetically altered and you may want to steer clear of. I always buy organic, though, because you never know what they’re putting in conventional products these days. There is also an app called Buycott that can be used to scan any packaged food products on the bar code. You can also go here to find out what to do to get laws in place that give us the right to know whats in our food.

Perhaps you would like a few examples of what these GMO’s are and in what ways they’ve been altered, maybe they’re not so bad after all. Well, one example, is corn which has been genetically modified to actually produce Bt Toxin. This way, it ruptures the stomachs of the insects that decide to eat it. This may make you wonder what the corn might do you stomach, on the off chance you ever eat conventional corn chips, sweet corn in the summer, or at just about any restaurant.

Well, leaky gut has become an increasing health burden, but maybe that’s just a coincidence. To Monsanto’s dismay though, the insect that this “plant” was engineered to deter, has evolved and adapted to it and thus the problem has not been solved. Is it any surprise, though, that nature prevailed? The way I see it, the world was created perfectly, and most of the issues we face are man’s meddling with that in one way or another. For every nature problem, there is a natural solution.

Another form of this meddling is done usinh genetically engineered mosquitoes, becoming a serious possibility in Florida. With  the mass media hysteria over the Zika Virus, we have already seen mass sprayings of pesticides aerially in Southern states like Florida. Oxitec, maker of the GMO mosquito, has jumped on this potential global health experiment bandwagon. This franken- bug has genetic mutations in males so that their offspring die before adulthood. This has the potential to completely disrupt the entire food chain, otherwise known as the circle of life or ecosystem. Most people know from their high school biology class how important it is for each species to be a healthy and intact, contributing their part to the ecosystem in order for its entirety (which we are a part of) to function harmoniously. Unfortunately, the FDA has approved mosquitoes for release. Luckily though, Floridians are able to vote on this issue in November.

Next up, is the round- up ready variety pack. They’ve got everything you need, strong enough to stand up to being doused with roundup so heavily that any other living thing wouldn’t stand a chance. Monsanto makes that possible. They’ve got alfalfa, corn, soybean, cotton, sorghum. Round- up ready wheat is in the making (R). Currently, if you’re eating your wheat conventionally you will still likely be getting quite a dose of glyphosate. Farmers use it to kill all of the weeds just before they are picked from the ground to be processed and put on your plate. This makes wheat much more convenient to harvest. If you remember my post about antibiotics, you might remember the super bugs that emerged after heavy and repeated use of antibiotics in the livestock industry and across the country. Similarly, spraying copious amounts of pesticide and herbicide roundup on plants has created super-weeds (R).

What’s worse is that glyphosate, a main ingredient in roundup, which these organisms have been created to withstand otherwise lethal doses of, has also been linked to leaky gut and fatty liver (R). Glyphosate has also been recently linked to mass numbers of bees dying off. We depend on bees to pollinate many crops we consume daily, including avocado, onion, apples, and chocolate. Bees were added to the endangered species list earlier this week, for the first time ever.  It is a tragedy and a crime in my book that these known bee killing chemicals were not made illegal years ago when Harvard studies revealed that pesticides were related to mass bee die-offs (R). The obvious first steps are to get rid of the chemicals that have been linked to their death, and sadly, bees aren’t the only species suffering from GMO crops and pesticides. Birds, butterflies, and who knows what else are also seeing abnormal and worrisome rates of decline (R).

Luckily, this is all something you have direct control over. If you don’t give these companies who were originally chemical companies and are now trying to monopolize our food supply your money, then they will lose their abilities to impact our food supply. This is something we can all fight and truly change on a daily basis. I have seen this transformation first hand since I have been buying organic and let me tell you, it has been nothing short of miraculous to watch. The people simply need to know these facts. Once they do, a few cents more per pound or even ten extra miles to the natural grocery store become worth it. At least I know they were for me. We must not allow ourselves to play parts in these powers succeeding in our world. We have to vote with our dollar and in doing so can make an enormous step in the right direction for our world.

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