Health is the Tipping Point to Identify and Eliminate GMOs

Are Americans willing to jeopardize their health with GMO foods?

Are Americans willing to jeopardize their health with GMO foods?

Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and
Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods
You Are Eating
(2003), is convinced that they are not, so he
started the Campaign for Healthier Eating in America,
which calls for the elimination of GMO foods altogether.

He spoke recently at the annual Michigan Organic Farm and Food
Association
conference held at
Michigan State University and provided participants with resources and
inspiration for joining the movement to eliminate
genetically-engineered (GM) foods.

Smith figures that it will take only 15 million Americans or 5 percent
of the population, to pressure food companies not to use GMO
ingredients or products and thus establish a tipping point for
change.

Potential target audiences receptive to his message include food
co-ops, health-conscious shoppers, schools, parents of young children,
medical practitioners, green groups, chefs, food service executives.
Meanwhile, physicians are already telling their patients to avoid GMOs
and religious organizations are looking into the ethical and spiritual
aspects of food production, he said.

"When people see what is going on, they realize that it's bad," said
Smith. "We want to take that energy and turn it into effective action
instead of feeling like victims. We want people to say to themselves:
'I determine what food I eat.'"

Genetic engineering or the genetic modification (GM) of food involves
the laboratory process of artificially inserting both genes and genetic
control mechanisms into the DNA of food crops or animals. The result
is a genetically modified organism. GMOs can be engineered with genes
from bacteria, viruses, insects or animals-including humans.
GMO-derived foods are pervasive and, due to current laws and
regulations, difficult to distinguish between foods that are GMO and
those that are not.

Twenty-two European countries have solved that problem by demanding
that their governments require labels to identify all GMO foods. Then
consumers had the option to choose whether to buy what they called
"frankenfoods" or not. However, the pressure was so strong against GMO
foods that American companies took them off the market and reverted
back to selling their original, non-GMO products.

Smith said that 53 percent of Americans would do the same if given the
choice, but GMO foods are not labeled in the United States except in
Minnesota, California, Vermont and Maine and a few cities.

One significant problem with GM seeds is that through the GE process
mutations are generated throughout a plant's DNA, such as deleting or
permanently shutting on or off natural genes, changing the complex
interactive behavior of hundreds of genes or changing or rearranging
either natural or inserted genes that may create unique proteins that
can trigger allergies or promote disease,

In his second book, Genetic Roulette (2007), Smith presents
irrefutable evidence of 65 health dangers linked to GMOs including
allergens, carcinogens, new diseases, antibiotic resistant diseases and
nutritional problems.

For example, soon after GM soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies
skyrocketed by 50 percent, said Smith. In March 2001, the Center for
Disease Control reported that food is responsible for twice the number
of illnesses in the United States compared to estimates just seven
years earlier. This increase roughly corresponds to the period when
Americans began eating GM food.

"Without follow-up tests, which neither the industry or government is
doing," said Smith, "we can't be absolutely sure if genetic engineering
was the cause."

Children with young, fast-developing bodies face the greatest risk from
the potential dangers of GM foods for the same reasons that they face
the greatest risk from other hazards like pesticides and radiation:
they are susceptible to allergies and have problems with milk,
nutrition and antibiotic resistant diseases.

Smith pointed out that in the past when consumers found a product to be
a health risk-as with bovine growth hormones in milk by 2009 (a product
of Monsanto) and Alar in apples in 1989 (a product of Uniroyal Chemical
Company, Inc., now integrated into the Chemtura Corporation)-they voted
with their wallets. Likewise, in India when there was talk of
concocting GMO eggplant, a staple in that country, 100,000 people put
on a fasting demonstration and 8,000 others showed up at a government
hearing and stopped it.

There are other efforts afoot to fight GMOs.

The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit collaboration of manufacturers, retailers, processors,
distributors, farmers, seed companies and consumers who believe that
everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume
genetically modified products. The group's common mission is to ensure
the sustained availability of non-GMO choices so it lists participating
food companies and state-by-state retailers. It also has created an
independent verification system that offers transparency and a
consistency of standards consumers can trust. Its core requirements
are traceability, segregation, and testing at critical control points.

The Center for Food Safety
has published the pocket-sized Non-GMO Shopping Guide
that lists products and companies that produce GMO and non-GMO foods-as
well as the "hidden GM ingredients" that are found in many processed
foods.

Smith's website also provides a summary of the crops, foods and food
ingredients that have been genetically modified as of July 2007.

"We actually have the power to eliminate GMOs ourselves instead of
waiting for government or for labels," said Smith. "We must move
through our networks and let others know that GMOs are unhealthy. That
what will allow us to make change."