by Linda Sechrist
Jeffrey Smith is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, author of Seeds of Deception and director of the documentary Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives. Smith and his organization’s Campaign for Healthier Eating in America are spearheading consumer rejection of genetically modified foods (GM/GMO) in order to force them off the market.
What basics should everyone know about GMOs?
Genetic engineering is different from traditional crossbreeding. In engineering six major GMO crops—soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa—a gene from a virus or bacteria was forced into the DNA of the plants. Derivatives such as soy lecithin, soy protein, high-fructose corn syrup and sugar (unless labeled as cane sugar) are in the vast majority of processed foods.
How did GMO foods invade grocery shelves?
Many U.S. consumers mistakenly believe that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves GMO crops only after careful study. Instead, the agency claimed it wasn’t aware of any significant difference from other food crops and declared safety testing unnecessary. In reality, according to FDA documents later made public in a lawsuit, the consensus among FDA scientists was that GMOs were different and dangerous and needed rigorous, longterm testing to prevent allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems.
When the George W. Bush administration ordered the agency to promote biotechnology as a way to increase U.S. food exports, the FDA responded by creating a new position of Deputy Commissioner of Policy for Michael R. Taylor, a former Monsanto attorney. He later became a Monsanto vice president and is now back at the FDA as the U.S. food safety czar.
Why is Roundup, Monsanto’s weed killer for GMO crops, so toxic?
Monsanto portrays Roundup as a benevolent herbicide. This is a lie. Glyphosate, its active patented ingredient, alters biochemical pathways in the body. Scientists such as Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff have linked glyphosate to numerous diseases and disorders, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, gluten sensitivity, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, autism and reproductive disorders. In March, the World Health Organization declared it a probable carcinogen.
How can we avoid unlabeled GMO foods?
Eat organic foods, which are not allowed to contain GM ingredients, or products that are labeled non-GMO, or those that don’t contain derivatives of the current nine GMO food crops, which now include some zucchini, yellow squash and papaya grown in Hawaii or China. Any packaged grocery product not labeled “Non-GMO” or “Organic” is likely to contain at least one GMO; this includes meat and dairy products, from animals that have eaten GM feed.
NonGMOShoppingGuide.com is a reliable resource that lists about 30,000 non-GMO products. A non-GMO diet is recommended by thousands of doctors, as well as the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.
What more can “we the people” do to eradicate GMOs?
We are in control, not government agencies. I believe that promoting a stronger message—that GMOs are dangerous and should be avoided— would better serve consumers and the food-labeling movement. High-profile campaigns will continue educating consumers about the dangers of GMOs and the necessity of rejecting them in favor of healthier non-GMO choices, especially for children that are most at risk.
The desired result is that food companies will feel the loss of profits and remove GMOs as a liability. The tipping point in the U.S. is almost here. In 2013, the president of Whole Foods announced that when a product becomes verified as non-GMO, sales leap by 15 to 30 percent. Thousands of natural product brands were immediately enrolled for verification.
Now conventional brands such as Post Foods’ Grape Nuts, Target’s Simply Balanced brand, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Chipotle’s restaurant menu are GMO-free. General Mills stopped using GMO beet sugar in Cheerios. When the rest of the food industry sees these non- GMO-labeled products increase in sales in conventional supermarkets, they will be forced to eliminate GMOs as well, to protect their market share.
Connect with writer Linda Sechrist at ItsAllAboutWe.com.