It has been a while. My nose has been in the books since the end of our cleanse as I try to absorb as much information as possible and pass my classes. Luckily I have been able to use my classes to investigate more and more exciting information about food and nutrition. Today I took a great cooking class at Abby’s Table in SE Portland and learned how to make some delicious gluten, dairy, soy and sugar free appetizers! More on that in the next post because today I really want to talk about GMO. Most of us have heard of GMO but we are left with questions like, what does that really mean? what is the big deal? is it really bad for us? how much food actually has GMO contents? Well, I decided to do some research for my speech class and found out some pretty interesting stuff. I have posted my speech below in hopes that it will arm you with useful information. If you want more info there is a great new book out by PSU professor Dr. Lisa Weasel called Food Fray. I saw her speak last Monday and was truly enlightened. Also, check the bottom of the post for a smoothie recipe that has made it’s way to the top of the list for me. PS This speech took me 8 minutes to give so it should only take you about 4 minutes to read….I know it looks long.
If you want to kill yourself you might think of poison, prescription overdose, a bullet, maybe a noose. Those are means to a quick and relatively painless end. But what if you want to kill yourself slowly and painfully? For this, you could just go to your local supermarket and fill your cart with boxes labeled “natural”, “fortified” or “heart healthy”. However, we don’t think about food as a slow and painful killer that can result in extreme health care costs, devastating diseases and diminished quality of life because we trust that the FDA would not approve a food that would cause such destruction. We assume that our government takes an oath similar to the one that doctors do like “first, do no harm”. Well, let’s not be naïve.
Most of the foods in our cupboard do more harm than good because if it is in our cupboard it is probably processed. Some of the leading ingredients in processed foods are canola oil, soybean oil, corn syrup and sugar from sugar beets. Coincidentally, 80% of those foods grown in the US are genetically modified. Genetically modified organisms are organisms whose DNA is altered in a lab in a way that would not be possible in nature. These foods or seeds are modified to resist pests and survive layer upon layer of sprayed herbicides such as Roundup an herbicide manufactured by corporate giant, Monsanto. These foods are not only genetically different than anything we have evolved to digest but they carry with them the herbicides and pesticides that are sprayed on them during the growing season. But, if it tastes like corn and it looks like corn then it is corn, right? Well not exactly and today I am going to tell you why GMOs are so dangerous to our food supply and our ecosystem as well as what you can do to take a stand and protect yourself.
GMO and Monsanto are two words that go hand in hand. Monsanto is the corporation that produces Roundup as well as the producer of almost all of the genetically modified seeds that American farmers use today. This is a two-fold issue, first we have the dangers of chemically treated foods and second we have the dangers of genetically modified foods. Round up is a commercial herbicide that utilizes glyphosate and polyethoxylated tallow amine to penetrate and kill plants and animals.
Although, Monsanto’s studies show that glyphosate is safe, studies show that when it is combined with other Round up ingredients, the combination is toxic to animals and humans. Studies have shown adverse effects of round-up ranging from birth defects to miscarriage. Studies also show that people that died from Roundup ingestion displayed symptoms of gastrointestinal corrosive effects. It makes me wonder if the sudden rise in autoimmune disorders that have sprung up over the last 20 years marked by corrosion of the villi in the digestive track as well as the sudden gluten-intolerance epidemic might have some correlation, but now I am just speculating.
According to Forbes Magazine, 2011 “Monsanto is so despised by environmentalists that Google’s first suggested search term for the St. Louis company is ‘Monsanto evil.’ Readers… voted Monsanto the world’s most evil corporation in a January poll, giving the corporation a whopping 51 percent of the vote”. Use of chemical herbicides and pesticides not only poses threats to human and animal health but to the health of our ecosystem as a whole.
Roundup has unintended consequences such as weed resistance in which stronger more toxic weeds, bacteria and other organisms are now popping up in response to crop dusting. Roundup also kills much of the natural bioactivity in soils that provides the nutrients in our food creating a sterile environment leaving food that is lacking in nutrients. Another major concern is that due to resistance, roundup is no longer working well so Monsanto is awaiting the approval process on their heftier and more toxic herbicide and GMO seeds for 2014.
So we know Roundup is dangerous but what about GMO? The scariest part of GMO is that Monsanto has patented their seeds and their spray which means that the public sector of scientists is unable to do any testing to check for safety. Monsanto hires their own scientists and then only allows data to be released that supports their product. Due to cross pollination, Monsanto is taking over the agriculture forcefully leaving consumers little decision in what they eat. Dr. Lisa Weasel of PSU has spent over ten years studying GMO and she said in her OMSI Science Pub lecture on Monday that there is reason to be concerned about GMO as a food source and that she feeds her family organic which cannot be certified if GMO is used. Some argue that up to 90% of GMO is used as feed for livestock so it is not in our food chain but I would argue that if we are eating those animals and drinking their milk that it is in fact still part of our food chain.
What can we do to stop GMO until more research has been conducted? The big issues here are research and labeling. Scientists need to be given the opportunity to do extensive research on the environmental and health effects of GMO crops and the chemicals that go along with them. Nothing will happen until consumer stand up for their health much like we did with another Monsanto product called rBHT, which was the growth hormone that was given to cows causing our milk supply to be filled with hormones and pus from cancerous cows, yes that is what most of us drank for most of our lives…pus.
The most effective and easy way to make a stand against GMO is to buy organic. Currently there are no labeling laws for GMO food so the only way to completely avoid GMO is eating organic foods, especially organic processed foods like cookies, crackers, chips and bread. Remember that dairy and meat come from animals that are fed GMO feed unless marked organic. If you want to spread the word, you can visit the website http://www.saynotogmos.org and order a free bumper sticker and print flyers to pass out. They can also link you to other ways to get involved on a grass roots level. Stay up to date on GMO bills in your state and in congress and vote for labeling laws.
I want you to imagine that in two years when Monsanto’s patent expires on Roundup that scientists find serious and irreversible health effects for humans and livestock. Except, by then Monsanto already has their new herbicides and seeds approved and in circulation and we are stuck for another 10 years with untested chemicals infiltrating our food supply. Is this a picture that makes you feel safe at the grocery store or at your dinner table? Do you feel like you should have to be a detective when you buy food to make sure that you are not being contaminated or do you believe that regulating departments of our government should support a sustainable and healthy food source for its citizens by requiring testing and labeling of GMO?
We should learn something from our friends in Europe, India and even Zambia, a third world country that received food aid from the US. All of these countries ban the use of GMO due to insufficient research. So, take matters into your own hands. I encourage you to read labels and avoid all non organic foods that contain soy, corn, wheat, and sugar. I beg you to choose organic meats from farms and ranches that allow their animals to eat grass and live free of caging. This is your health and your children’s health. It may cost you a few dollars more right now, it absolutely will but what price do you put on health? If you don’t pay for your wellness up from, you will pay it on the back end. It is our responsibility as consumers and citizens of this country to make a stand against corrupt businesses that selfishly seek to make exorbitant profits at the expense of others. I hope I have left you with some food for thought.
Mango Madness green smoothie
Makes about 32 oz in the vitamix or blender
2 c chard
2 c romaine
1/2 c cucumber
1 orange peeled
1 c frozen mango chunks
1 lime squeezed in
1 c water