Navigating the Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)
There is currently an emergency situation in regards to the agricultural industry around the globe, specifically, genetically engineered or modified foods. In this process, a gene or piece of DNA is spliced from one source, such as a fish or a spider, and then forced into the DNA of another item, such as a tomato. The basic reason for this process is to encourage the beneficial properties of the first item into the second item.
In the early years, (late 1990s) FDA scientists were unsure about the safety of these foods, and expressed their doubts. Nevertheless, the foods were launched into the market, with their safety already doubtful. After almost 20 years on the market, the resulting products have shown to be quite hazardous. Genetic engineering uses carriers to bring the foreign DNA into the targeted plant. The most common carriers are viruses and bacterias, because they have the ability to attack a host’s cell and break into the cell’s DNA. As you may begin to imagine, this practice is like opening Pandora’s box, as both humans and animals are eating these harmful new “foods”.
No matter which particular gene is inserted, the very process itself results in massive collateral damage in the plant, which can increase toxins, allergens and carcinogens. In addition, it has been shown that even a tiny manipulation affects the new product in enormous ways; (Just watch even 2 minutes of this 5-minute video from the Institute for Responsible Technology)
The process may not produce the same results each time, so genetic engineering is a highly imprecise practice. Additionally, very little is understood about the entire functioning of DNA. Food engineers randomly select genes for the insertion process, without a firm understanding of what the outcome will be. It is also possible that the engineers may “switch on” a dormant virus in the process. There are numerous other dangers as well, for example:
• By far the most common gene carrier that they use is the cauliflower mosaic virus, (CaMV). This virus is physically similar to the HIV virus.
• The ingestion of viral genes can potentially create toxins and weaken people’s viral defenses. Genetically modified foods may also create antibiotic-resistant diseases.
• Since the foods were introduced in 1996, there has been a steady increase in the general population of gastrointestinal, immune, and reproductive disorders, allergies, and organ damage. Autism and ADD/ADHD in children are increasing dramatically. Therefore, thousands of medical doctors in the U.S. are recommending a non- GMO diet to their patients who have developed the conditions suspected to be caused from GMO foods, and they are finding that the conditions clear up after avoiding the GMOs.
What happened to the testing for the safety of these foods?
Surprisingly, it’s been a very neglected step. In his new book, Altered Genes, Twisted Truth, Steven Druker, a public interest attorney, exposes the incredible history of GMO development, and how it was steeped in secrecy and lies. He initiated a lawsuit that forced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to divulge its files on genetically engineered foods. Reading the book, we are shown that the bio-tech scientists pushed strongly for deregulation so that they could freely experiment, without any interference. In the process, they ignored the dangers that presented themselves, all the while assuring the public and the government that the process and the resulting products were safe. The book goes in-depth to show without a doubt that this was NOT at all the case.
Monsanto, the original marketer of genetically modified foods, has used unscientific, contradictory arguments to dismiss concerns about GMOs, even though experts demanded follow-up testing with proper procedures. Furthermore, the bio-food industry has circulated misinformation that “GMO foods are necessary to meet the needs of food production for a growing world population”, and that the foods are safe and equivalent to their natural counterparts. Unfortunately, people have been placated by these statements, which are simply a fabrication of the GMO industry, according to the Institute for Responsible Technology.
In Druker’s book, he offers extensive evidence of the industry’s misinformation; for example “…the viral promoters push organisms off the path of frugality and force them to expend considerable energy to produce substances that they do not need. This incessant energy drain may be the reason that GE crops sometimes underproduce. For instance, Monsanto’s GE Roundup Ready@ soy bean was determined to have a 5% decrease in yield that’s directly attributable to the genetic alteration.” (p. 113).
What is the situation in Israel?
90-100% of soy in Israel is imported from the U.S. and is genetically modified, and shows up in vegetarian hot dogs, veggie shnitzels and baby formula. Cooking oils that are soy or canola oil are other examples. According to the Volcani Institute of Agricultural Research, there is also some genetic engineering research being done in Israel.
Another hazard is that most of the wheat coming into Israel is from the U.S. has been sprayed with Monsanto's severely toxic RoundUp Ready pesticide AFTER harvesting it, using the pesticide to dry out the wheat, (not to avoid pests). Therefore, it's extremely important to eat ONLY organic bread, or choose another type of grain, like Spelt or Rye.
The Monsanto company is still active in Israel. For example, Monsanto has purchased a commercial bee company. The Monsanto company apparently desires to have a monopoly on commercial seeds and even on commercial bees, creating and marketing pesticides and GMO crops that are killing bees in the U.S. by the hundreds of thousands…this itself offers proof that the goal of GMOs is NOT to increase the world food supply! (Not to mention the masses of small farmers who are being put out of business by the Big Agrotech food companies. 1,000 small farmers in India committed suicide as a result).
Scientists and medical doctors are now speaking out against GMOs. Laboratory rats fed genetically modified foods developed multiple serious health problems, as do farm animals that are fed these foods. For example, genetically modified potatoes given to lab rats inhibited the development of their brains, livers, testicles, partial atrophy of the liver, enlarged their pancreases and intestines and damaged their immune systems. Lab rats were fed genetically modified FlavrSavr tomatoes for 28 days. Almost half of these rats developed stomach lesions (bleeding stomachs) and 7 out of 40 died within two weeks. The tomatoes were approved for public consumption, despite unresolved questions by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientists.
Governmental authorities have been kept in the dark about the grave health hazards of the engineered foods. Thus the biotech food companies have been able focus on making heavy profits, since GMO foods can be patented, as can GMO seeds, offering much control over the market. Natural seeds and plants cannot be patented.
European countries have already banned GMOs. There is a “European Food Safety Authority” which tests “new foods” such as GMOs and irradiated food, and can either grant or refuse authorizing these foods. If Israel gets involved in GMO crops, they will have no European market for these foods…so why get involved?? And why to allow mass poisoning of Israeli citizens??
There are also other ethical questions here. Normally, the boundaries between species are set by nature, and these boundaries exist for a reason. For vegetarians, it could be upsetting to know that the vegetables they buy contain fish or insect genes. There is also suspicion that this mixing of genes between different species goes against Halachah (Jewish Law). There has even been mixing of human and animal genes taking place!
What can be done? Initially, consumer advocates are asking for genetically modified foods to at least be labeled on food packages. Currently, people do not realize these dangers, and are not even aware that they are eating these modified foods, and feeding them to their families, causing huge health problems. Can you think of even one family that you know, which does not have at least one child with learning disabilities, ADD, vision problems or some other serious chronic health problems?
Luckily, people can look for organic foods, and for foods that are already labeled “Non-GMO”, and in the meantime, totally avoiding the foods that are the main focus of the industry: Corn (corn oil, corn syrup), soy (and soybean oil), and canola oil. Unfortunately, the modified oils are extremely prevalent in many processed foods in the average supermarket, such as cereals, crackers, chips, shnitzels, candy, juices, and granola bars. You have to read the labels before buying. It is estimated that 80% of processed foods in America contain GMOs! It may be similar in Israel. It’s also wise to avoid margarine and canola oil for non-dairy (parve) baking. Safe options include grapeseed oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, available in organic stores.
Farm-raised salmon, often called “Atlantic salmon” in the U.S., or “Norwegian salmon” in Israel, also may soon become genetically modified. It already contains large amounts of toxic substances, and is unfortunately the most commonly available in stores, and served in restaurants. To avoid it, ask for wild caught salmon, (try David Dagim fish store in the shuk).
In the documentary film, Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives, the dangers and misconceptions of genetically modified food are clearly exposed. The film reveals that adults and children who cut out genetically modified foods from their diets began to recover from their chronic health problems. So there is hope to heal the public. However, once a plant’s gene pool is “polluted” by GM technology, there is no current technology to repair the damage. If you read Steven Druker’s book, which goes into extreme detail about the GE procedures, including the use of shock techniques, harsh chemicals, and the shooting of genes with special guns (!) you will want to cry at this horrific violation of nature.
However, the advocates in the film were optimistic about what it would take to put an end to genetically modified food. They feel that if even a small percentage of the population begins to boycott the products, the food corporations will have to start listening, as their profits decline. At the present, it is recommended that consumers get information online, begin reading all food packages, and avoid the most typically genetically engineered food products.
Hopefully you will now feel motivated to become more informed, and take action to protect yourself, your family and community. Google “GMO Israel”, and check out these links, as well as local Non-GMO Facebook groups.
Institute of Responsible Technology-
The Food Revolution Network-
ALLIANCE FOR BI0-INTEGRITY:
ARE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS IN ACCORD WITH JEWISH LAW?
Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives, 2012 (film)
GMO OMG, film by Jeremy Seifert and the film BOUGHT by Jeff Hays
FMTV-Food Matters TV, many excellent documentaries, including OF THE LAND: