The Institute for Responsible Technology provides the following information on foods containing GMOs: “GM foods were made possible by a technology developed in the 1970s whereby genes from one species are forced into the DNA of other species. Genes produce proteins, which in turn can generate characteristics or traits. The promised traits associated with GMOs have been sky high—vegetables growing in the desert, Vitamin-fortified grains, and highly productive crops feeding the starving millions. None of these are available. In fact, the only two traits that are found in nearly all commercialized GM plants are herbicide tolerance and/or pesticide production.”
What has also been found in many studies done over the years are adverse health effects in animals, and this past summer, in pregnant women and their fetuses. Animal studies have shown a five-fold increase in infant mortality, says Smith, as well as smaller babies and sterile babies. This is information that has been available for awhile, yet more recently in humans, a study conducted in Canada revealed that BT toxin, the insecticide produced from Monsanto BT Mon810 corn (which is genetically modified to resist corn borers by producing its own insecticide) was found in 93 percent of the pregnant women tested and 80 percent of their unborn fetuses, according to Smith. This nullifies the claim by regulators that BT toxin was destroyed in the digestive process, he adds.
Those doing the study proposed that the BT toxin, the protein, may have come from milk and meat from animals fed the corn. However, another theory with a more direct correlation, which Smith feels carries more weight, comes from the only human feeding study ever published, which shows that genes inserted into soybeans to make the soy Roundup-ready transferred into the DNA of bacteria living inside of our intestines and probably continued to function.
“If the same transfer were to occur from corn by eating, for example, corn chips or tortillas,” says Smith, “then it may turn our intestinal floor into living pesticide factories where our own gut bacteria produces the BT toxin on a continuous basis.”
The labeling of foods containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is a wish of 93 percent of Americans who believe they have a right to know if the food they are purchasing contains GMOs. GMO labeling is also a top concern for organic farmers and food producers across the nation, and getting GMOs out of our food supply is a passionate cause lead by non-GMO advocates throughout the world.
“The best effort today for regulation (of GMOs) is the California Ballot Initiative, which bypasses the corporate driven politics and legislators, giving consumers the direct ability to require mandatory labeling of GMOs,” says Jeffrey Smith, America’s most prominent non-GMO advocate, GMO expert, and author of The Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating.
At the national level, there is the opportunity to support the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act (H.R. 3553) introduced by Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich by writing to your state representative. The act is currently sitting in two committees—the House of Agriculture committee and the House of Energy and Commerce committee.
What You Can Do As a Consumer
The top three things we as consumers can do in the push to stop the use of GMOs in our foods is to learn more about them, avoid them, and get involved in helping others become aware of them, says Smith.
A great way to get involved in California is to volunteer to gather signatures on petitions to get the California Label GMOs Initiative on this November’s ballot. Volunteers are needed to gather petition signatures now through April. (Visit www.labelgmos.org to see how you can help.)
At the national level, visit http://www.opencongress.org/people/representatives to find contact information for your local congressman or congresswoman to urge their support of the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act (H.R. 3553). The passing of this bill would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Federal Meat Inspection Act, and the Poultry Products Inspection Act to require that food that contains a genetically engineered material or that is produced with a genetically engineered material, be labeled accordingly.
Jeffrey Smith also urges concerned consumers to visit www.responsibletechnology.org (the Website for The Institute for Responsible Technology of which Smith is executive director) and sign up for a free Spilling the Beans newsletter and join The Tipping Point Network, which provides the opportunity to connect with others, locally or nationally, interested in doing outreach for the cause.
“The FDA does not actually approve any GMOs,” says Smith. “In 1992, their policy claimed that they were not aware of any information showing that GMOs were substantially different, and therefore, they said no testing was necessary, no labeling was necessary. In fact, companies like Monsanto, who told us that PCBs, Agent Orange, and DDT were safe, can make the full determination that their own GMOs are safe and put them on the market without telling consumers or the FDA.
“The policy turned out to be a lie,” stresses Smith. “In fact, the overwhelming consensus among the FDA’s own scientists was that GMOs were not only different but inherently dangerous and could lead to toxins, allergies, diseases and nutritional problems.”
These same FDA scientists have been urging their superiors to do something about this, but have been ignored, partly, according to Smith, because higher ups in the administration are former Monsanto employees. These scientists’ findings have even been validated by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, adds Smith, with the outcome being a recommendation to doctors that they should prescribe non-GMO diets to every patient.
The bottom line, Smith stresses, is that we should not trust the powers that be to safeguard us from the ill effects of GMOs.
Non-GMO Project Verification in Action
In October, Northern California dairyman Albert Straus participated and spoke before hundreds of attendants from throughout the world at the Right2Know Rally in Washington D.C., spreading the word on the importance of labeling genetically modified foods on behalf of the national Just Label It: We Have a Right to Know campaign, which his dairy sponsors.
As an organic farmer, Straus favors a “proactive versus a reactive” stance in the push to get foods containing GMOs labeled, and he has been very proactive in preserving the “organic integrity” of his certified organic dairy farm on the coast of West Marin, raising his dairy herd without antibiotics, hormones or pesticides. To ensure that the feed he gives his cows and the ingredients he uses in his products are GMO-free, Straus and his suppliers test all the ingredients in their products, including the feeds for his dairy cows and the seeds he uses to grow his forage crops.
“We have a verification system,” explains Straus, who began testing for GMOs in 2006. “We use a PCR (Protein Chain Reaction) test to test for GMOs in our products.” In April 2010, Straus Family Creamery became the first creamery to achieve Non-GMO Project Verification for all its products. (Albert Straus also offers information on the running of his certified organic farm and on his GMO testing process to interested organic farmers. He can be reached at email@example.com.)
Albert and other organic farmers are disheartened by the USDA’s full deregulation of genetically modified alfalfa last January, which allows unrestricted planting of Roundup Ready crop. Alfalfa is an essential feed for his dairy cows, and the potential contamination of organic alfalfa from genetically modified alfalfa poses a significant threat to his company and the organic dairy industry. The organic alfalfa growing industry needs to start testing and verifying its crops are GMO-free, he adds.
“Consumers need to be aware,” he stresses. “They need to get information and educated about the effects of GMOs on the environment and our food supply.” Straus also urges consumers to share their GMO knowledge with others and to get involved in GMO labeling initiatives both locally and federally.
“Sustainability, family farms, organic, non-GMO are the future,” says Straus, “and GMOs cannot be in our food system.” Currently, he adds, “70 to 80 percent of our food is contaminated with GMOs. We’re just the guinea pigs.”
*reproduced with permission from Baker Creek