What are GMO foods?
GMO actually stands for: Genetically Modified Organism. GMO’s are the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA are taken from one organism (plant or animal) and added into genes from a different organism and these genes can come from bacteria, viruses, insects, plants, animals or humans. Due to the transfer of genes GOM’s are also known as transgenic organisms.
As this is similar to selective breeding, which we know has been in existence for thousands of years, biotechnology can now be more efficient as they are able to directly modify the gnome of different crops the difference here being that these organisms are ‘transgenetic’. I dont know about you people out there but I’ve never tried to initiate coitous with a potato in order for the potato to be more nutrient dense. This isn’t as stupid as it sounds, apparently GMO foods have some human genes in them. Again, I don’t know about all you fine people out there, but I don’t think adding things to my food is particularly safe, especially since it is defined as ‘added genes from a different organism’ whether that be from bacteria, virus, insect, plants, humans or animals.
Positives and negatives of GMO foods
Let’s just discuss one of the negatives here shall we. The ones done with pesticides associated with genetically modified foods found in maternal fetal and non-pregnant women blood, along with the presence of BT toxin. Breaking this down, what do we know? We know that pesticides are poisoness, that’s a fact. Pesticides no matter what form they come in, are poisoness. To be found in the blood of somebody is pretty horrifying. BT toxin, what is that? BT toxins stands for, Bacillus Thuringiensis and it is a bacteria that produces proteins which are toxic to insects. It’s in the same family of bacteria as B. anthracis, which causes anthrax, and B. cereus, which causes food poisoning. So the toxicity of this substance should come as no surprise.
BT’s aggressive mechanism harms the digestive system by effectively attacking normal gut cells thereby burning holes in the intestines. This can cause problems such as leaky gut syndrome. For more on leaky gut syndrome click this link – http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/leaky-gut-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx .
This has been found in pregnant women, now in my opinion that is disgusting! As if finding it in somebody to begin with isn’t bad enough, it being in the blood stream of women could mean the potential of it being passed on to the baby. Now the research that it is from is the first of its kind and to my knowledge the only one so far. Depending on what testing was used will depend on the particular women and this will impact on the results, as it is good to note with any scientific experiment. The true results come when experiments have been done multiple times and there is a correlation in the literature. Although as you can see above there are other studies that have been done that can link GMOs to different health problems such as Gluten disorders
Overview of positives and negatives
Just looking at the list you can see all of the negatives and to me personally they outweigh the positives, as far as health concerns go. I may be biased, because I came into this hoping to say that GM products are shit! I like the idea of fresh healthy products and in a perfect world I would grow all my own stuff. Although, understanding that this isn’t a perfect world I know that the positives are a very big positive! In terms of cultivation of crops and the farming industry as a whole.
As this is supposed to be a health blog, I will have to say that GMO’s are typically bad in my opinion and according to different research out there.
UK and GMO foods
In the UK, GM foods aren’t really a thing. The only way that GM foods are thought to enter Britain is as animal feed. We can see from the negatives box that it has a negative effect on pigs. If the feed has a negative effect on pigs and we eat pork from those pigs will that transfer over? Well, as when we digest things they get broken down into their chemical forms and end up sustaining who we are and what we do, it’s safe to assume that there will be an effect from the pork that we eat, but I’ll let you decide.
GM foods that are bought into the EU such as animal feed, food or biofuels have to be labelled but an animal that has eaten GM feed doesn’t have to be marked when dairy and meat is produced from that animal, even though it has found that there are effects on animals from eating these GM foods.
This is approved by regulations that the EU uphold and the EU have some pretty strict regulations; GB are even stricter when it comes to meats, after the foot and mouth fiasco. The EU entered into GM crop cultivation in 2010 and in order to get the go ahead earlier countries where given an ‘opt out’ clause. The EU has also decided to allow GM feed to include trace levels of crops which have no safety approval in Europe. Now, they don’t deem it safe but they are still using it. Probably because of all the positives that are listed. The thing is, when it comes to the ability to feed more people for less money and less time taken to do so, it’s deemed okay. That’s always going to be why it’s okay and it doesn’t matter that it has toxins in it etc. Taking a look at the positives briefly they are incredibly good positives. When it comes to feeding a lot of people in situations of drought or extremely cold weather it’s brilliant and the science behind it is genius! But in terms of the studies done on the effects of health, is it worth it to you personally?
‘In April 2013, Tesco, the Co-Op and Marks and Spencer announced they will no longer require poultry to be fed on GM-free feed, following similar decisions by Morrisons (March 2012) and Asda (September 2010). Sainsbury is keeping some product lines fed on non-GM soya, but is dropping others. There is a danger that suppliers will no longer segregate GM and non-GM soya in shipments to Britain if the major retailers do not demand it and easily available sources of non-GM meat and dairy products will be lost. Although GM feed will not be used for products that are classified as organic!’ (1) This isn’t brilliant in my opinion, as I have discussed already, they don’t have to mark any products that use GM grain and the health effects that they have on animals that can be passed over aren’t brilliant. In Britain, there have been field trials of GM potatoes (one in Norfolk and one near Leeds) and GM wheat (at the Rothamsted research centre in Hertfordshire). In 2014, a trial of GM Camila sativa ("false flax") is planned at Rothamsted. This crop has a genetically altered oil content (high in omega-3). Defra lists applications and consents for field trials, and if they’re trialling it how can they be sure that pollen from these trials aren’t getting out to our other sources of food and changing them? Also why are they trialling them if not to bring them into the country long term?
After all of this, it is safe to assume that GB isn’t completely GM free and possibly in the future due to the testing of certain GM foods it could potentially be coming into the county full time! Which I personally am against. I don’t think it’s very safe to even test them here and that potentially there is a battle of ethics here due to the poisons that are used and that have been found in the human blood streams from the intake of GM foods
GM foods in USA
America’s food regulations are a little different to the EU mainly because of the amount of people that live there, they try to do everything on a grand scale because it’s more cost effective. This is fair enough as it is working towards supply and demand and in America there is a lot of demand.
In the USA, there is no requirement that says you have to indicate the presence of GMO ingredients on food labels or in restaurants, nor are companies required to report which genetically modified seeds they use. This means it could pretty much be everywhere and nobody would know. GMO’s were first approved to be grown in America in 1996. An article in time magazine says that 90% of all soybean cotton and corn acreage in America is used to grow GM crops. Like I said before, it’s to supply and demand so it’s not deemed that big of a deal when it comes to those circumstances but when you look into all of the underlining health factors that it can potentially cause, what the seed can do to animals and the fact that GM foods are less resistant to disease and pests then, again, for me it’s not worth it. Where genetic modification has been used on a large scale in the U.S are on food crops such as: sugar beets, alfalfa, canola, papaya and squash. I found it very difficult to find the regulation of these products and all I found was that it’s approved by the major governing bodies over in America, which is why it is so widely used. The question is, what is so different about testing of products that they don’t want to use it in Europe and the UK but in America it’s used as much as possible?
As you can see from the difference in USA and the UK/EU, GM foods are used a lot more in the USA and like I said I believe this is due to supply and demand problem. More than anything else the population of America being around 318.9 million and the population of the UK being about 64.1million, however, Europe as a whole has a population of 742.5 million people, far greater than the USA but does not fuel supply and demand via the use of gm products. As stated earlier, countries in Europe can use the ‘opt out’ clause, as such some countries in Europe could still be producing GM foods. However, this is no-where near the same scale as the USA. Judging on the research, I think we should just have natural foods- vegetables and in an ideal world we should raise our own crops and livestock because real food, without any preservatives or genetic modifications are the best for you, because it is nature’s bounty- as much as a hippy as that makes me sound.
Hopefully this give a little insight into what GMO foods are and where they can be found. If anybody has any further information, I would be very happy to hear about it as I find this very interesting. I don’t mind being told I’m wrong as long as there is evidence to support it!
Here is a list of regions that have been free of GMO foods since 2010- http://www.gmo-free-regions.org/fileadmin/files/gmo-free-regions/full_list/List_GMO-free_regions_Europe_update_September_2010.pdf
Here are a list of journals for your consideration. They’re all done by scientific testing and they are definitely worth the time to read in my opinion: