Editor’s Note: Each Tuesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. Wealso highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Tuesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.
GREEN TIP: Avoid genetically engineer food.
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Because this involves the transfer of genes, GMOs are also known as “transgenic” organisms.
This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same. Read more about GMOs at http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-basics/the-ge-process.
The buildup surrounding GM agriculture was that these new crops would be of increased nutritional value and would increase productivity. They would be able to grow in the desert and feed the worlds hungry. This, however, is not the reality. The only advantage goes to the companies selling the seeds. If you want to read a great article on the topic, visit civileats.com and read the view of author and food advocate Anna Lappe.
According to the Institute of Responsible Technology, “the two main traits that have been added to date are herbicide tolerance and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide. These results have no health benefit, only economic benefit.”
Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods and blogger at Huffington Post, writes “Unless we want to wait until more studies are done, risking allergies and immune dysfunction, infertility, infant mortality, or poorer health inherited by the next generation, we will have to opt out of the GM food experiment. Without required labels, it isn’t simple.” And currently the U.S. doesn’t require GM foods to have labeling describing them as being genetically modified.
Children are especially susceptible to the effects of GM foods.
Top Ten Genetically Engineered Food Crops from Healthy Child Healthy World
• Corn: Our number-one agricultural commodity. In 2000, 79.5 million acres of harvested cropland in the U.S. were corn, 25% of which was genetically engineered. This includes Bt and Roundup Ready corn varieties.
• Soy: The number-two U.S. agricultural commodity. Sixty percent of processed foods contain soy ingredients, and 82% of edible fats and oils consumed in the U.S. are soy-based. In 2000, 54% of the 74.5 million acres of soybeans grown in the U.S. was Roundup Ready soy.
• Potato: Currently, the only GE potato is a Burbank Russet variety, marketed under the name NewLeaf. This Bt-producing plant is lethal to the Colorado potato beetle – and possibly to beneficial insects.
• Tomato: The first GE tomato, the Flavr Savr, was introduced commercially in 1994, but flopped because it proved tasteless. Since then, other varieties, including a cherry tomato, have been genetically engineered to delay ripening and extend shelf life.
• Canola: Of the 15 million acres of canola grown in the U.S. and Canada annually, 35% is GE, mostly for herbicide-resistance.
• Cottonseed Oil: In 2000, 61% of the 15.5 million acres of cotton grown in the U.S. was genetically engineered. Every year, half a million tons of cottonseed oil makes its way into salad dressings, baked goods and snack foods. About 1.4 million tons of cottonseed meal is fed to livestock annually.
• Papaya: More than one third of Hawaiian papayas have been genetically engineered to withstand the papaya ringspot virus. Organic papaya growers in Hawaii worry that the pollen from GE papaya trees will contaminate their crops.
• Radicchio: Currently one variety of radicchio, called Seed Link, has been genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide glufosinate.
• Squash: Several varieties of summer squash have been genetically engineered to resist mosaic viruses. Some scientists are concerned that resistance to the virus may spread to weedy relatives, such as gourds, found in the U.S., creating invasive superweeds.
• Salmon: A company called Aqua Bounty has engineered a salmon with genes from two different fish species so that it grows much more quickly than non-GE salmon. The company now seeks FDA approval to market this fish for human consumption. Escaped into the environment, (which is inevitable on fish farms), the GE fish may be larger and more aggressive, eat more food, and mate more often, though their offspring are less fit to survive in the wild, raising the possibility of wild species extinction. Human health effects are also relatively unknown. Currently, research on transgenic strains of 35 fish species world-wide is underway.
Source: Healthy Child Healthy World
Download the Institute for Responsible Technology’s Non-GMO Shopping Guide to make sure you avoid foods made with genetically modified organisms.
My Green Side’s web pick of the week:
The Non-GMO Project, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, offers North America’s only third party verification and labeling for non-GMO food and products. They are committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices.