Should we be concerned about GMOs?
First of all, what are these?
A GMO (genetically modified Organism) is an animal, plant, micro-or-other-organism, whose genetic composition has been altered, using a method known as transgenic technology or genetic engineering. This modification is usually done in a laboratory, but for our discussion, our focus is mainly on food from its inception to the end-product.
Warning: It is not a pretty picture!
In the case of GMO food, the genes from one species (virus or bacteria) is added to a crop (of which corn, soy, cotton, “canola” and sugar beans are the main five GMO). The crop is adjusted to such an extent that it may grow to have more allergens, anti-nutrients, more toxins and/or carcinogens (or even way less) than it would naturally possess under normal, healthy circumstances.
The effects depend on the aspects of the genes which have been tempered with in the crop. If we consider GMO corn, what they do is switch off one gene which would have been beneficial and turn on an allergen. During these processes, harmless proteins can be changed into harmful ones, making the food unfit for human consumption. Many similar changes may be made to the crop on a genetic level.
Why is this a matter of life and death?
Whether one is on a strict plant-based or animal-based diet, if exposed to GMO foods, they are affected at one point or another. For example, even if you take what they call a vegan diet, the ingredients in one or the other so-called “vegan friendly” derivatives such as soy lecithin,corn starch, corn syrup, sucrose and more, have genes that have been adjusted; and may cause great harm to one’s health. Comparing these appalling bits of information to the effects of animal GMOs, in 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine urged all doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets to their patients and provide them with nutritional education to better understand the dangers of these foods on their health. A plant-based diet seems less hazardous, because the animals used for food are taken through various genetic engineering treatments for faster production and to have larger quantities of meats, eggs, milk and other products at the end of the chain.
What does this mean for plants?
When GM seeds or herbicides are used, the health of the plant is compromised. As for such seeds, when a certain gene is taken out of the crop, and another is added (or even the very absence of a certain good gene), the crop produces more of the toxin, the allergen and/or anti-nutrient. GM seeds are used for their ability to give high crop yields. They are also very strong when it comes to pest resistance. Unfortunately, the toxicity in GM seeds is so much that it resists even agents which kill birds and other living beings. GMOs have very dangerous qualities. If GM herbicides are used, they spread to different parts of the crop. These GM contaminants spread to the roots and to other parts of the plant which animals, micro-organisms and people use daily for consumption.
Now, let’s talk about the roots
When the contaminant has spread to the roots, it gravely affects the environment and the organisms depending on that specific ecosystem. First of all, the quality of soil is diminished. GM materials bind up nutrients in the soil that they are not available for the plant to take up and use for its nourishment. The level of toxicity in the GM pollutants kills off the micro-organisms in the soil, depriving the system of it’s beneficial micro-flora and simultaneously, it enhances their harmful counterparts. Thus GMOs are designed to destroy the health of plants and adversely affect the environment these plants form a part of. Any crop planted after in the same soil, suffers from similar or worse problems due to the toxicity and mineral deficiencies.
What can we say about the defenceless animals?
Now that we see how the GM contamination has spread to the different parts of the plant, let’s look at what happens to the parts used for human and animal consumption. The animals, such as livestock and birds that feed on these treated plants may die, or experience problems such as sterility, skin and respiratory diseases; because these toxic genes have accumulated and taken the place of what used to be healthful to the plant, and to the organisms depending on that plant.
Never mind the plants and the animals－but what about us?
In most cases, humans do not see the raw crop in the field or the chicken as it is being nurtured and grown. When we lock our eyes with the food for the first time, it is beautifully packaged and wrapped up after having gone through processes unbeknown to us. GM foods have been known to cause accelerated ageing, dysfunctional insulin regulation, gastrointestinal problems, disorderly immune systems, and even reproductive challenges. GMOs are extremely harmful to one’s immune response. We have not even covered the full list of health problems one can face when taking in these engineered products, but one thing is for sure－ our health and protection are at stake.
Take a breath－ all is not lost
With all the disconcerting information just relayed, it’s not the world if one has been exposed to GM foods. The following are what can be done as alternatives, even for resilience if one is experiencing the baleful effects GMOs:
- Consider transitioning (gradually, for the sake of your health) to a plant-based diet, also looking into natural methods of detoxification and restoring the broken system. Visit your health care provider if need be.
- Start a small but simple gardening project just in your yard, even if it means you have to use plant pots and other containers to plant your herbs, vegetables and fruit in.
- Prefer the use of heirloom seeds. They are safe and you may even have a continuous seed bank, which would mean you would no longer rely heavily on other sources whose food production activities you are not familiar with.
- Educate yourself and others close to you about the self-sustenance and organic food-making avenues.
- When you do your shopping, take time to read the food labels. Nowadays, they often indicate whether foods are GM or “GMO free” (but this is not always the case)－ nevertheless, do take the necessary precautionary steps.
- Even after you make the necessary dietic changes, simplified meals are the best way to go; with as few in number and more organic ingredients as possible.
Let not the situation daunt you, but keep a positive attitude toward this new challenge. Like all other unnerving experiences, “take the bull by the horn” as a learning curve to better yourself physically, mentally and spiritually; treading onward with one step at a time (Philippians 4:8).
- Smith, JM. Genetic Roulette. Fairfield: Yes Books.2007. p.10
- Kilic A, Aday M. A three generational study with genetically modified Bt corn in rats: biochemical and histopathological investigation. Food Chem. Toxicol. 2008; 46(3):1164-1170
- American Academy of Environmental Medicine (May 8, 2009.) https://www.aaemonline.org/gmo.php