GMO Foods: A Dangerous Experiment, Part I

Photo: Scientist Taking Samples from Seedlings

(This is the first installment of a three-part series about the potential risks of foods containing genetically modified ingredients)

One of the most dangerous and least understood experiments with human health the world has ever known is currently underway without your consent—in your household and households around the world. It is the wholesale contamination of the world's food supply with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

GMOs are the result of a laboratory process where genes are taken from one species and inserted into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic. GMOs are also known as genetically engineered-, bio-engineered-, biotech crops, or transgenic organisms.

While GMO proponents say their goal is to increase nutritional benefits or productivity, the two main traits that have been added to date are herbicide tolerance and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide. These results have no health benefits, and in fact have only contributed to higher herbicide use and pesticide-resistant superbugs.

Down to Earth is opposed to the development of products containing GMOs because we believe they may pose health, safety, and other potential risks that far outweigh the purported benefits.

GMO crops are grown on every continent of the world. Since their introduction in 1996, they have been planted in over 1.25 billion hectares worldwide—an area 25% larger than the total land mass of the US and China. This experiment is so pervasive that in 2011, for example, 88% of U.S. corn was genetically engineered as were 94% of soy, 95% of sugar beets, 90% of canola oil, 90% of cotton, and about 80% of Hawaiian papaya. Also, this spring marked the first planting of GMO alfalfa.

This story is similar for other countries. In 2011, 160 million hectares of GMO crops were grown in India, China, Japan, the Philippines, Brazil, Mexico, the United States, Canada, and scores of other countries throughout Europe and the rest of the world. As a result, everything including bread, cereal, frozen foods, canned soup, soda—all sorts of processed foods—now contain genetically engineered ingredients

There have been no controlled, long-term studies determining the effects of GMO’s on human beings. The only feeding study conducted on human beings showed GMOs survived inside the stomach of the people eating GMO food. No follow-up studies were done. Various feeding studies conducted on animals by independent scientists have raised serious concerns. Results from these studies included potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, damaged immune systems, smaller brains, livers, and testicles; partial atrophy or increased density of the liver, odd shaped cell nuclei and other unexplained anomalies, false pregnancies and higher death rates.

Every single genetically engineered organism is different, and may adapt differently over time. Foreign genes may give rise to allergenic proteins or toxic compounds which survive in the bloodstream. By experimenting with the genetic structure of common foods without thoroughly testing each new combination and its effects on human beings and the environment, the biotech industry is essentially conducting a vast, long term, uncontrolled experiment on human health and the entire planet.

I urge you to educate yourself about the presence of GMO foods in your community. Learn what you can do to stop this dangerous experiment on your health and the health of your children. In my next blog I will provide more details about the potential health and environmental risks posed by introducing GMOs into the environment and our food.