Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Genetically Modified Life

By Student Blogger Stephanie Kirkland…

I went to a lecture recently that featured Jeffery Smith, a consumer activist, and author of two books on genetically engineered foods. It was enlightening, to say the least. As I have become more and more aware of the role that genetically engineered foods play in an average diet, it was essential for my growth in the subject to attend.

Of all that was shared, and discussed some main points of interest stood out to me including distribution of food, Food and Drug Administration policy, DNA alteration, and core crops, among others.

He shared with us these numbers: 20% of people in the world are in need of food, while a whopping 33% of food in the world is wasted. The point of this alarming figure was to enforce the idea that there is not a lack of food, but a lack of equitable distribution of food.
Mr. Smith also relayed to us the stages and damages to which GMO and synthetic additives can lead to. The first effect, being actual changes in DNA where unexpected genes are switched on and off. Because of these DNA changes, alterations in RNA can also be affected including proteins and natural composition of genes.

Bt-toxin production is the second effect wherein it is super-concentrated in crops, in particular corn, which pokes holes in human cells causing blood-damage, as well as loss of red blood cells. This even passes to unborn fetus’ which deters brain function, in the womb. Bt-toxin continues to function through digestion and the digestive track and may be transformed into living pesticides. The third effect is with more herbicide use, the more residues on crops that become herbicide tolerant. He went on to inform us that the main industrial herbicide, Roundup, changes at a molecular level; destroys beneficial organisms, dismantles plant defenses, and promotes pathogenic organisms. A perfect storm of weakness and sickness.

At this point of the lecture, my breath slowed as I was becoming more and more aware of every detail and stage of a plant, animal, and humans life that is affected by such things. The manipulation and alteration that is made is in no way beneficial to us and our bodies, but to industry and their pockets. And here I am, stuck. I think of myself now, as a young, informed, aware culinarian and I am still wondering how I can go about avoiding any and all derivatives of genetically modified products and if that is even a realistic goal. My whole lifestyle is in need of a shift in another direction if so. But would also require lengthy research and anxiety when considering the following: primary Roundup-ready, core crops include soy, corn, alfalfa, canola, and cotton; this includes products such as cottonseed oil, alfalfa (hay), and many zucchini and yellow squashes. We eat the weak and sick plants and animals, in turn making us weak and sick.

Mr. Smith showed us an experiment conducted on rats over a period of two years that were fed exclusively genetically modified soy. By the 3rd generation, they were unable to conceive, and had many abscesses on their bodies which led to a verdict that it was inhumane for them to sustain a life with tumors over half of the size of their body weight on them. This led to a conversation about the preference of animals, when given a choice between the genetically modified feed and non-gm feed – they avoid it altogether! Currently, he went on to express, there are no human clinical trials of genetically modified foods and approvals are based only on assumptions.

As he finished his lecture, he asked the crowd in a show of hands of which of us were going to be pro-active about not only following a non-GMO diet and lifestyle, but expressing our concern to others. The number of hands that shot up were innumerable as I too, rose my weary, and past-GMO ignorant hand and heart. 

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