Food quality is a hot topic in the news today.  Many mothers are concerned about current efforts by leading chemical companies to alter our staple food crops in ways that have no precedent in nature or science. The newest alteration is GMOs, which are now found in a majority of processed food products.

Especially as parents. we are responsible to see that our children get the best start we know about, and the quality of their food is a huge factor. We also owe it to ourselves to stay as healthy as we can. So what if we are eating Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs?

Let’s take the long view for a moment. For more than a million years, humans have been eating everything in their local environment that didn’t kill them. If a person tried to eat an animal or vegetable that was poisonous, that person didn’t live to have children. So over the years, humans found what species were edible and what weren’t.

Over time, our human ancestors discovered how to cook food to eat even more variety and to store food more effectively. Eventually we even learned to replant the seeds of food and to choose the seeds which gave us the qualities we liked most. And we could do the same with animals once we learned to corral them.

A few centuries ago, we became far more scientific about “breeding” our crops and animals, to produce food quicker, cheaper, more efficiently, and with more of the characteristics we wanted at any given time. Once we learned about genetics in the mid-twentieth century, scientists began to imagine that they could actually tinker with the genetic code to hone in on the characteristics we wanted.

But then the question becomes, the characteristics who wanted? Is it the scientists who hire the geneticists to do the experiments, is it the chemical companies who want the crops and animals to use more of their chemicals, is it the agri-business corporations and food processors who want the cheapest product which still resembles traditional food, or is it we the eaters?

In the book Altered Genes, Twisted Truth, the author Steven Druker reveals how our image of scientists going in with tweezers and carefully manipulating the genes to improve the crop is completely misleading, and unfortunately deliberately so. At least four or five manipulations, almost unfathomable to the non-geneticist, are applied to the genes at issue, and even then there is no assurance until scrupulous testing that the wanted results are achieved.

For example, in many cases, whether a cell has accepted the new gene is only detectable because a light sensitive gene from a jellyfish has also been injected. Such mixing of the genes among vastly different species doesn’t happen in nature.

We know that the thousands of genes in any living creature, plant or animal, are extremely interdependent, and one gene often affects many activities in a cell. Likewise, groups of genes often operate together to create other kinds of crucial cell activities. So if we alter one gene because it will now change a particular chemical in the plant,  we have no way of knowing if this change will also affect how some other important cell chemical is designed.

We also now know that genes are activated and deactivated by other processes in a cell that are responding to numerous factors in and outside the cell, including the stress level of the plant or animal. This is the core of the science of “epigenetics.”

These complications may explain how many experiments which we rarely hear about in the media, but are considered well designed and reported by respected scientists, have shown that when GMO foods are fed to animals, unwanted health conditions develop at a disturbing rate compared to animals fed the equivalent non-GMO foods.

Most developed countries have minimized the growing, importing, and selling of GMO foods within their borders. The chemical companies which encourage GMOs say that if they are forced to label GMOs in the USA, the same thing will happen here because the public doesn’t realize that these foods are “safe.”

But do we want to feed them to our children? Do we want to be like experimental lab animals?

The vast majority of all corn and soy sold in the USA is genetically altered today. And there is no way to know whether these crops may be responsible for the increases in various chronic conditions like obesity, immunological insufficiency, autoimmune disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and other inflammatory diseases.

All of these are on the rise and in younger and younger populations. It is logical to look at recent changes in our food supply which coincide with this rising trend.

Don’t believe the story that these alterations are necessary to feed the hungry world. Most of the GMO crops go to feed large animals which feed only the wealthy populations in developed countries.  In addition, the GMO crops increase yield only for the first few years, but unfortunately by then, the farmer has become dependent on the special seeds and pesticides the chemical company has sold her or him, and has no GMO-free seed to start a new crop.

I am not one to volunteer my child for a dietary experiment that comes from a chem lab. I advise sticking with the foods you grandmother would recognize or that your great uncle could produce on his farm.

The federal government just passed legislation which was promoted by the chemical companies to prevent individual states from responding to their citizens by insisting on the labeling of GMOs. The law is touted as having required that they be labeled, but it doesn’t go into effect for a couple of years, it has loopholes because only certain foods or ingredients must be labeled, and the label is only a QR code.

So if you really want to know, you must hold your mobile phone up to the label to check the QR code!

I will continue to buy only foods that say non-GMO certified, or “Certified Organic,” because so far the “organic” label is not supposed to have any GMOs, although there are a few legal exceptions already.

I recommend that you know where your food comes from, buy from sources who care about the health and quality of the food, and give your family the best chance to thrive in an increasingly complex world.

Organic food does cost more than the non-organic, but the slight increase in your food budget is more than made up for by healthier children, who are less likely to need expensive over-the-counter remedies, doctor visits, and worse. The quality of your child’s food is something over which you have control, and it can make a huge contribution to their life-long health profile, as well as your peace of mind.


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