On Mother’s Day of this year my husband took my daughter Claire and me out to dinner, which I was definitely happy about. Cooking dinner day after day is often a trying experience for me, though I honor it as part of my contribution to the family.
We went to the usual Japanese restaurant because it’s the only place Claire truly enjoys eating out. As my husband and I dined on sushi, Claire dove into her favorites – white rice, dumplings, edamame and miso soup. She expressed her enthusiastic delight in the tasty nature of the food, a big smile on her sweet face, which made me very happy – that is until I began my investigation into genetically modified foods the following day.
I had been meaning for some time to learn about genetically modified foods, having heard about the serious dangers associated with them. I hadn’t yet gotten to any significant specifics and knew I needed to. When I did on that Monday following Mother’s Day, I was appalled and truly frightened by what I had learned. More than anything I began fretting about what damage had already been done to Claire given the many times I have let her eat miso soup and edamame – both made from soy beans, 91% of which are genetically modified in the United States – not to mention other GM foods that have found their way into her diet.
Before I continue on with my personal reflections on genetically modified food, here’s some basic information from the Institute for Responsible Technology, a leading organization for the ban of GMOs:
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic, hence they 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.
The two main gene traits that have currently been added to food crops are herbicide tolerance and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide.
The estimated percentage for currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S. are: soy (91%), cotton (71%), canola (88%), corn (85%), sugar beets (90%), Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%), Alfalfa (at Supreme Court), and zucchini and yellow Squash (small amount).
Other Sources of GMOs include:
• Dairy products from cows injected with the GM hormone rbGH
• Food additives, enzymes, flavorings, and processing agents, including the
sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet®) and rennet used to make hard cheeses
• Meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals that have eaten GM feed
• Honey and bee pollen that may have GM sources of pollen
• Contamination or pollination caused by GM seeds or pollen
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.
There are many articles available that detail the specifics on GMO research findings, but the above information is enough for me to conclude that it is CRAZY to be planting genetically engineered seeds and eating what they produce without long-term research. In India, buffalo that grazed on GM cotton plants died in three days! In other findings, by the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies.
So how has the use of these seeds been allowed?
Well, sadly, it’s the usual story. In the early 1990s the FDA said GM food is dangerous and needs extensive testing. The Bush administration brought in Michael Taylor, the attorney for the biotech company Monsanto – the monopoly that creates GM seeds – to write the US policy on GMOs. Such policy states that it is sufficient for biotech companies to do the research on their own seeds to determine if they’re safe.
Nice deal, Monsanto.
Michael Taylor went back to Monsanto to become the vice president. And where is he now? Lo and behold, the Obama administration hired him to be the official food safety czar for the FDA! To say that government and industry are in bed together is the understatement of the century.
Monsanto, by the way, is the same company that brought us PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, a class of organic compounds that were widely used for many applications such as coolants and insulating fluids, plasticizers in paints and cements, additives in flexible PVC coatings of electrical wiring and electronic components, lubricating oils and sealants, adhesives, wood floor finishes, paints, water-proofing compounds and surgical implants. PCB production was banned by the United States Congress in 1979 due to its high degree of toxicity – a toxicity that Monsanto knew about as early as 1937 but kept confidential. They knowingly poisoned people for the sake of profit.
Now Monsanto is spreading GM seeds all over the planet. Why in God’s name would we trust them?
Thinking about my beautiful seven-year-old girl eating soybeans on Mother’s Day haunts me. I see an innocent child being poisoned by a corporation in bed with government and a mother unaware of the toxicity her daughter was taking into her body, toxicity that research indicates may well remain and continue to grow inside her body even if she stops eating anything genetically modified from this day forward. It feels like a total violation and makes me want to run through the streets like a town crier warning parents to wake up to the truth of GM foods.
Though much of the food Claire eats is organic, it hasn’t been purely so. Thoughts rush through my head. What have I given her over the years that had GMOs? Did the chickens we’ve eaten feed on GM corn? What about all the snack foods at school, the food she has eaten at the homes of family and friends, the lollipops made from corn syrup? Has there already been damage that cannot be undone? Have I already jeopardized her chance to be a mother?
This is my beloved girl! She fills my heart to the brim and beyond. She is my teacher and my muse. She wakes me up again and again to the gift of life. And seven years later, I still look at her with utter amazement, that this beautiful being came out of my body. Her life and her future are my greatest priority. Did I already fail her without even knowing it?
Before giving birth to Claire, I never baked. When she arrived into this world, I started baking her birthday cakes every year. I used canola oil every time. What was I serving her in that cake? What about all the other birthday cakes at all the other birthday parties with all the other children happily eating the cake? What are we doing to these innocent beings? Profit above poisoning is outrageous. It’s criminally insane.
It is hard not to feel helpless about protecting our children from all the toxicity the modern world has put forth into our food, air and water. The good new is GMOs are something we can put a stop to because they are directly linked to consumer purchasing power. There is a growing voice in this country that is insisting that GM foods be labeled. Petitions and protests are gaining momentum. If labeling became law, enough people would stop buying GM foods and grocery stores would stop stocking them because they would be losing money. Monsanto knows this and is, hence, lobbying not to label.
GM food is labeled in Europe, in Japan, in China. Why not in the United States? Let us insist on the label and get GM foods off our table. Then every birthday cake at any party will symbolize the celebration of a child’s life, not a silent poison with frosting on top.
(Please go to the Institute for Responsible Technology for excellent information on GMOs and easy, critical action steps to get GM food labeled. Consumers have a right to know!)