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Genetically Engineered Foods, GMOs
What is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering is a modern form of biotechnology - a broad term
describing processes such as cross-breeding, plant hybridization and
While biotechnology has been used by humans for thousands of years,
genetic engineering is a relatively new and rapidly developing technology
that is raising public concern. Genetic engineering focuses on the
manipulation (blocking, adding, or scrambling) of the genetic material
(the DNA) inside the cells of living organisms to block or add desired
Examples of Genetic Engineering
Anti-sense technology: A gene controlling a trait is
blocked. Example tomato with delayed ripening for fresher flavor.
Recombinant DNA: microorganism to plant: Transfer of genetic material
from a bacterium into cells of plants. Example: Insect resistant
corn plants and pesticide resistant soybeans.
Recombinant DNA: human to animal: Human genes inserted into pigs to
produce human hemoglobin.
Recombinant DNA: animal to plant: Fish genes inserted into plants to
increase tolerance to cold.
Why use Genetic Engineering?
Proponents of genetic engineering claim many potential benefits of this
new technology. Current medical applications include genetically
engineered human insulin, human growth hormone, gene probes to detect
genetic diseases, Hepatitis B vaccine, monoclonal antibodies to diagnose
infections, and tissue plasminogen activator to dissolve blood
clots. Some of the more controversial applications of genetic
engineering are in the area of food production. The promised
benefits of genetically engineered food production include:
Reduced use of pesticides
Reduced use of herbicides
Reduced use of fertilizers
Increase in food supply. Decrease in world hunger.
What are the potential risks of genetic engineered foods?
Opponents of genetic engineering raise concerns about the safety and
ethics of creating novel organisms as well as the impact that genetic
engineering will have on the environment
Specific concerns include:
Lack of long term studies on food safety.
Lack of long term studies on environmental impact.
Diminished opportunity for organic/sustainable agriculture
Potential risk of rendering Bacillius thuringiensis (Bt), a natural
biological pesticide, useless due to widespread use of Bt-engineered
Potential life threatening danger for individuals with food
allergies or sensitivities who might unknowingly ingest altered foods
to which they are allergic, sensitive, or intolerant.
New genetic structure of foods might result in new allergens.
Toxicity levels of naturally occurring food toxins might result in
Toxicity levels of naturally occurring food toxins might
inadvertently be altered.
Cruelty to animals.
Unacceptability of creating novel organisms that would not occur
through traditional means of reproduction (crossing plants and animals
or unrelated species of animals).
Environmental damage due to cross pollination and disturbed
Ethical and spiritual concerns.
What food products have been or are being developed with genetic
Milk and other dairy products from cows administered rBGH, a
genetically engineered growth hormone.
Soybean, tomato, corn, and canola plants that withstand herbicide
Corn, tomatoes & potatoes with built in pesticides.
Potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, squash, cucumber, corn, canola,
soybeans & grapes manipulated to resist plant viruses.
Peppers and tomatoes engineered to resist plant fungi
Tomatoes, peas, peppers and tropical fruits manipulated to extend
shelf life and improve processing quality.
Corn, sunflower, and soybeans engineered to contain altered levels
Canola and peanuts with altered lipid profiles.
Coffee beans with altered caffeine content.
Potatoes that absorb less oil when fried.
Corn and peas engineered for a prolonged shelf life.
Various enzymes (proteins that sped up biological processes) used to
make beer, wind, fruit juice, sugar, oil, baked goods and more.
Genetically engineered rennet for making cheese.
The main group of
GMOs is soy, canola, corn, cotton seed and salmon.
is an article
do you know if you're eating real food, not GMO aka
Is there any way to know if our food has been genetically altered?
Not unless a labeling system is adopted.
Currently, the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) does not require labeling of genetically
engineered foods except when:
The new genetically engineered food is nutritionally different from
the non-genetically engineered versions.
The characteristics of the food differ significantly from what is
normally expected (e.g., the introduction of allergens or toxins).
Why are labels important?
With labeling, public health officials will be able to trace the cause
and course of any unforeseen public health problem caused by the
introduction of genetically altered foods (such as the outbreak of
Eosinophila Myalgia Syndrome linked with a genetically engineered brand of
amino acid supplement L-trypotophan in 1989).
Labeling of genetically engineered food will enable consumers to avoid
products produced in manners contradictory to religious, spiritual and/or
Consumers simply have a right to choose for themselves between
genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered products.
Here is a sample of designations
in North America
designation is as follows:
has a five-digit number beginning with a
9. Organic bananas, for example,
would be given the designation of 94011.
produce has a four-digit number beginning with a
3 or 4. Therefore, the number on
conventionally grown bananas would be 4011.
engineered produce also has a five-digit
number on the label and begins with an 8. Again,
the number on genetically altered bananas would be
the FDA declared that biotech foods were the same as
conventional foods – because the biotech companies
said so. The number 8 was then instituted since the
produce industry thought consumers would prefer
genetically modified food more so than conventionally
grown food. It did not take long for them to find out
differently. Although the number 8 designation can still
be found, it is rare. The biotech industry is also
fighting any sort of labeling for their inventions –
now that they know consumers really do not want them. As
it stands now, Hawaiian papaya is about the only
food you will find that has the number 8 in front of it.
the label specifically states “certified organic”,
it is a safe bet that any food containing corn, soy,
and cottonseed oils has a GE origin. These
processed foods will not have the genetically engineered
PLU code that would alert the consumer. In addition,
manufacturers of GE products are not subjected to any
special review, approval, or labeling. The organic
producer is, however. Ironic, isn’t it – something
that is grown naturally requires more scrutiny than does
something containing any number of harmful substances?
For more information including here to buy food
not genetically modified go here http://responsibletechnology.org/buy-non-gmo
What are people doing?
Concerned people and some health food stores (namely WHOLE FOODS
MARKET) have been informing others since 1992. They advocated
mandatory labeling and encouraged others to write the FDA and other
manufacturers to express their concerns. Whole Foods Markets
avoid genetically engineered foods.
What can you do?
Let the FDA and your favorite manufacturers know how you feel about
genetic engineering of our food supply. Tell them you would like to
make an informed choice of whether or not to purchase foods that have been
You can write to:
Jane E. Henney, M.D.
Food and Drug Administration
500 Fishers Lane, Room 1471
Rockville, MD 20857
Secretary of Agriculture
US Department of Agriculture
200 A. Whitten Building
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, D.C. 20250
You can also write to your Congressman or your state's Food and Drug
Division. To locate your Senators/Representatives call
To contact manufacturers, look for their complete address printed on
the product packaging.
If you can't eat right, you do need supplementation.
We found a Whole
Food Vitamin & Mineral supplement that
does what it says it will go
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