Tuesday, November 15, 2011

GMO Corn and Other Crops

"Genetically modified foods (GM foods or GMO foods) are foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Genetically modified organisms have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques.  GM foods were first put on the market in the mid 1990s (1996). Typically, genetically modified foods are transgenic plant products: soybean, corn, canola, and cotton seed oil.  Critics have objected to GM foods on several grounds, including safety issues,[7] ecological concerns, and economic concerns raised by the fact that these organisms are subject to intellectual property law."
Huffington Post
It's very dangerous and tricky when companies start changing the DNA make-up of crops for profit.  Corn (like other crops) was changed to be stronger and withstand pesticides.  With GMO corn, Round-up can be sprayed on the entire field, killing pests but not the corn.  So, now, not only do you have a vegetable that has a new, engineered genetic make-up, it is also covered in Round-up.
"In a study released by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, analyzing the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers found that agricultural giant Monsanto's GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats.
According to the study, which was summarized by Rady Ananda at Food Freedom, "Three varieties of Monsanto's GM corn - Mon 863, insecticide-producing Mon 810, and Roundup® herbicide-absorbing NK 603 - were approved for consumption by US, European and several other national food safety authorities."
Monsanto gathered its own crude statistical data after conducting a 90-day study, even though chronic problems can rarely be found after 90 days, and concluded that the corn was safe for consumption. The stamp of approval may have been premature, however."  From here, bold mine
 The Wikipedia definition at the beginning of this post stated concerns, one being "the fact that these organisms are subject to intellectual property law."  What is the intellectual property law?  I knew you would ask...
Intellectual property is any innovation, commercial or artistic, or any unique name, symbol, logo or design used commercially.
Intellectual property is protected by
•  patents on inventions;
•  trademarks on branding devices;
•  copyrights on music, videos, patterns and other forms of expression;
•  trade secrets for methods or formulas having economic value and used commercially
Definition found here.

So, why is there concern "that these organisms are subject to intellectual property law?"  Because of the issue of putting a patent on life.  Is it right to patent a seed?  That depends on who you ask.  Now that corn is genetically modified, one company can own it.  They can govern who grows their corn.  This also means that if you are farming your own corn next to their GMO corn and their seeds blow over into your field...your operation can be shut down, sued, etc for "stealing" their product.  You didn't want their GMO corn in the first place.  That is a huge economic concern.  A large company can shut down a small farmer because of seeds that blew onto his property and took root.  Now the farmer has a choice, either work for that company and grow their GMO corn or stop farming crops. 
This Supreme Court ruling is responsible for allowing companies to patent life.
"With the biomedical revolution in full swing, academic scientists who lack industry ties have become as rare as giant pandas in the wild. But as Congress begins to investigate lapses in federal oversight of gene therapy experiments, lawmakers, bioethics experts and federal regulators say they are troubled that so many researchers have a financial stake in companies testing their discoveries -- companies whose fortunes, with those of the scientist, can rise and fall on a single product.
The fear is that the lure of profit could color scientific integrity, prompting researchers to withhold information about potentially dangerous side effects or push for experiments that might not be quite safe."  New York Times
If this is a concern in the medical field, it can also be true in the food industry.  Scientists creating these GMO products could also have their integrity "colored" by the "lure of profit." 
"The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients. They cite animal studies showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. Human studies show how genetically modified (GM) food can leave material behind inside us, possibly causing long-term problems. Genes inserted into GM soy, for example, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and that the toxic insecticide produced by GM corn was found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn fetuses.  Numerous health problems increased after GMOs were introduced in 1996. The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise. Although there is not sufficient research to confirm that GMOs are a contributing factor, doctors groups such as the AAEM tell us not to wait before we start protecting ourselves, and especially our children who are most at risk.
The American Public Health Association and American Nurses Association are among many medical groups that condemn the use of GM bovine growth hormone, because the milk from treated cows has more of the hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1)―which is linked to cancer.Institute for Responsible Technology
The article cited above is a great read.  Click on the link for more information.

In conclusion, if you consume most cereal, candy bars, condiments, fruit juice, popcorn, sodas, chips, tomato based sauce, jelly, etc. (the list is endless) you are consuming GMO corn (along with several other GMO crops). 

Don't be a test pilot.  Be informed.

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