Occupy Our Food

Liisa Wale September 18, 2012 0

By Liisa Wale
Arizona Community Press | www.azcommunitypress.org

Many of us know what genetically engineered crops are. Information about genetic engineering has been in the media since the 1990’s.  Even if you are unaware of genetically modified  organisms (GMO) you have probably been consuming some foods that are genetically engineered. For over a decade, almost all processed foods in the United States – cereals, salad dressings, canned soup, baby formula, etc – have contained ingredients from plants whose DNA has been manipulated in a laboratory. About 90% of all corn, soybeans, and cotton that is grown in the United States is genetically engineered. Most of the cotton that is being grown in Arizona is genetically engineered. Regulators and scientist who work for companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Dow Chemical say that these foods pose no danger and are safe to consume. Over the last decade there has been numerous reports and research studies that state otherwise. These studies show that there are both health and environmental effects due to genetically engineered crops.

A new study conducted in 2011 reported presence of Bt toxin, used widely in GM crops, in human blood for the first time. Scientists from the University of Sherbrooke, Canada, have detected the insecticidal protein, Cry1Ab, circulating in the blood of pregnant as well as non-pregnant women. Scientists and multinational corporations promoting GM crops have maintained that Bt toxin poses no danger to human health as the protein breaks down in the human gut. But the presence of this toxin in human blood shows that this does not happen.

As reported by India today:

“They have also detected the toxin in fetal blood, implying it could pass on to the next generation. The research paper has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in the journal Reproductive Toxicology. The study covered 30 pregnant women and 39 women who had come for tubectomy at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS) in Quebec.”

On Monday, September 17 a British study, conducted at the University of Newcastle, revealed that eating GM food can change the genetic make-up of your digestive system and could put you at risk of infections that are resistant to antibiotics. Geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou, of Guy’s Hospital, London, said the results “indicated the need for an extensive GM foods testing”. Dr Antoniou added: “Bacteria in the gut are going to take up genes that will make them resistant to potentially therapeutic antibiotics. The possibility is that someone who picked up the antibiotic resistance through food and then fell ill, that a medical antibiotic might not be effective.”

In addition there is growing evidence of harm from GMO’s including allergic reactions to GM Soy and Corn. The planting of GMO crops – some of which now contain toxic insecticides within their genetic structure – may also be responsible for poisoning bees and weakening their immune systems thus contributing to the colony collapse disorder.

Despite the public saying they do not want GMO food and an increasing number of studies that indicate that they have potentially irreversible impacts on health and the environment the USDA and biotech companies are working behind the scenes to rubberstamp new genetically engineered crops with little or no serious scientific review to vouch for their long-term safety. No independent peer-reviewed studies are required under the current biotech regulatory system in the United States to guarantee the long-term safety of these new genetically engineered crops before they’re approved. Earlier this summer, the USDA posted 12 new genetically engineered crops for public comment. Nine of the twelve new GMO crops up for review are under a new fast-tracked process. Some of these crops include:

  • Dow 2,4-D and Glufosinate Tolerant Soybean
  • Syngenta Corn Rootworm Resistant Corn
  • Okanagan Non-Browning Apple
  • Monsanto Dicamba Tolerant Soybean –
  • Dow 2,4-D, Dlyphosate and Glufosinate Tolerant Soybean
  • Genective Glyphosate Tolerant Corn

The increase in research and concern about eating genetically engineered foods is fueling a movement to require that food from genetically modified crops be labeled, if not eliminated. In California, this November the citizens will vote on Prop 37 whether to label GMOs. In Vermont, the governor last year signed into law to label GMOs. Currently that is stalled because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state of Vermont.  If the requirement of labeling of GE foods actually gets carried out then the tracking and documentation of health and environmental effects in the United States can move forward.  This is something that the Biotech industry fears and thus has fought to stop.

Here in Arizona GMO Free Project of Tucson, GMO Free Prescott, and GMO Free Phoenix are working on GMO labeling campaigns and educating people about the dangers of genetically engineered foods.

The week of September 17th there are 75 protests planned throughout the United States to target makers of genetically engineered foods on the Anniversary of Occupy Movement to Occupy Monsanto. In Phoenix events include a film screening of “Bitter Seeds” at One Voice Community Center and a Silent Biohazard Vigil.

“If the biotech industry is so proud of GMOs, why don’t they tout GMOs on food packaging labels?”