[Note from the instructor: “With GMOs in the news, and a big topic for Hawaii especially, I have my class writing a couple of essays and research papers on whether labeling GMO products should be required. The first essay is on ‘reasons for requiring labeling of foods with GMO ingredients.’ The final submissions are students’ research papers examining what research appears to show about GMOs and proposals for labeling foods with GMO ingredients.” -Danny Wyatt]
Monsanto Corporation is a company that farmers and consumers should fear. Since GMOs were first introduced in the mid-1990s, farmer groups and Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs) have warned consumers that GMOs will contaminate non-GMO crops. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are organisms that have been genetically altered through genetic engineering (GE). Scientists take a gene from one species and force it into the DNA of another species creating new organisms that cross the normal species barriers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that genetically modified foods (GM) do not need any cautionary labeling because GMOs are safe to eat. However, foes of GMOs disagree and believe genetically engineered food is dangerous. Every Independent studies conducted on the impact of genetically modified food show that they can be damaging to the human body and causes a variety of changes. Since these tests people are fighting to have labeling on all foods containing GMOs because they pose threats to people’s health, the environment and are a violation to consumer rights.
Several studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified (GM) foods such as gastrointestinal problems. Genetically modified (GM) advocates claim Bt toxin, a protein insecticidal in GM plants, breaks down in digestive tracts, but studies show Bt toxin damages the lining of stomachs in both animals and people (“GMO myths and truths.” ). This is when scientists use the soil bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and input it into crops to kill insects without the trouble of using insecticides (Smith, “Genetic Roulette”). Since doctors are discovering that Bt was added to people’s diets, they’re realizing this seems to be why people are coming in with GI problems. Studies show Bt transfers to the GI tract bacteria, so 93% of people have that toxin in their bodies because consuming Bt corn is ubiquitous (“Genetic Roulette”). Once these Bt toxins enter people’s bodies, these genes may never leave.
Another health issue that was discovered, scientists have long known that GM crops may cause allergies. Children are more prone to develop food allergies than adults because they have higher metabolic rates as they metabolize food quicker and they eat more food (Perro, “Genetic Roulette”). For example, allergen found in GM soy is closely related to the allergen found in peanuts. Children whose allergic to peanuts develops symptoms soon after with hives around the mouth or other parts of the body. The most common symptom is abdominal pain and vomiting. (peanutallergykidshealth) Koff and Emily then suggest to their patients to start consuming organic foods as a result of their allergic reactions to GMO foods (“Genetic Roulette”).
In addition, allergies can be controlled unlike autism which is more permanent. Autism has skyrocketed since, when GMOs were introduced in the 90’s. According to Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology Don Huber at Purdue University, he has spoken to an autistic doctor after his lecture stating, “The symptoms you describe are exactly what we are finding in our autistic children.” (Genetic Roulette) The animals in those studies were fed the same GM soy and corn eaten by children and adults in the US. Both crops are set with bacterial genes that allow them to survive being sprayed with a herbicide which kills plants. As a result, higher residues of toxic weed killer end up inside our food. The chemicals and toxins in both herbicides and pesticides are only meant for controlling weeds and insects.
Another issue the public is concerned about for GMO labeling is maintaining their consumer rights. According to the Star Advertiser article, “Feds should tackle GMO labeling”, it reports the debate regarding labeling GMOs has been arising about the issue from long-term health effects causing from genetically modified foods. Hawaii Bill 174 is an understandable attempt to bring clarity to consumer decisions. Consumers should have the right to know what they are eating to prevent themselves from having health issues. (Young-Oda, A13)
Furthermore, The US does not, but 63 other countries do, require labeling genetically modified foods. Philip Nelson, President for Illinois Farm Bureau indicates that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states, “we support the fact that no special labeling is requiring unless a food is significantly different or where a specific component is altered.” Yet, Chairman and founding partner, Gary Hirschberg “Just Label It” campaign states the reason why Americans want labeling for many reasons, including health, safety, and environmental. (Hirschberg 717)
In addition to these arguments towards required labeling genetically modified foods, another issue concerns the environment. The environment is suffering from the overuse of Roundup. Plants are developing resistance to that chemical so it doesn’t work as well. As a result, farmers then use more of it. Now farm runoff is spreading Roundup too, since what doesn’t get absorbed in the soil runs off into rivers, lakes, streams, and even spreads to the ocean. Overuse is also apparently affecting the organisms and bacteria that make soil fertile by reducing those required nutrients.
An epidemiological study points out that Roundup indicate serious health issues such as endocrine (hormone) disorder, birth defects, and neurological disruptions. In addition, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGh) also known as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rSBST) is a drug that’s injected into cows to increase milk production. This is the first genetically engineered product that the FDA ever approved. Mastitis, an udder infection, is one of the most common health impacts from rBGh. Studies have shown cows develop reproductive problems, including lower birth weight, infertility, and increased risk of cystic ovaries.
Monsanto’s hormonal milk poses serious risks of colon cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer. Women with relatively small increase in blood levels of the naturally occurring growth hormone Insulin-like Growth Factor I (IGF-1) are up to seven times more likely to develop premenopausal breast cancer than women with lower levels. Based on those results, the report concluded that the risks of elevated IGF-1 blood levels are among the leading known risk factors for breast cancer, and are exceeded only by a strong family history or unusual mammographic abnormalities. (preventcancer)
Furthermore, Monsanto’s crops are the blame for numerous of bee deaths. Bees are responsible 80 percent of our flowering crops which establish about one third of everything we eat. Many people concerned with food quality and food safety are blaming the bee death problem on the overuse of chemical treatments and the widespread introduction of genetically modified organisms. They point out that Monsanto’s MON810 corn technology combines the genes of a corn plant with the genetic material of an insect killing bacterium that may prove harmful to non-targeted species.
Although wind is the primary pollination mechanism for corn, it does deposits it on many of the flowering plants bees do pollinate. Our food safety and regulatory agencies consider it imperative that any new genetically modified (GM) product that contains insect killing properties be assessed for potential impacts on bee health. (GMO Genie)
Many people don’t realize they are consuming genetically modified foods every day, especially in processed foods containing genetically engineered corn and soy ingredients because they are never labeled. Monsanto influences consumers with, “the safety of our products is our first priority which is safe to eat”. As Philip Nelson, President, Illinois Farm Bureau, admits, “The key is that we support voluntary labeling”, although they indicate no special labeling is required unless a food is significantly different or altered.
Therefore, while genetically modified foods have been genetically engineered since the mid-90, in that time, the Illinois Farm Bureau adds not a single allergy, and illnesses have proven to be safe. Why not label them? In 2012, “Food and Chemical Toxicology”, showed lab rats fed pesticide tolerant GM maize had an increase in cancer and organ damages. (Ruhs 6) Monsanto claims that approved genetically-modified (GM) crops are “substantially equivalent” to non-GMO crops. However, in 2012, a nutritional analysis of genetically modified corn found that not only is GM corn lacking in vitamins and nutrients when compared to non-GM corn, and the genetic creation also poses numerous health risks due to extreme toxicity. The comparison of GMO corn versus non-GMO corn, found numerous concerning and notable differences between GMO, non-GMO corn has considerably more calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, and zinc. GMO corn is highly toxic containing chlorides, formaldehyde, and glyphosate all active ingredients in the best weed killer Roundup. (infowars Analysis Finds Monsanto’s GM Corn Nutritionally Dead, Highly Toxic)
Another reason biotech companies givefor not labeling is GMOs are safe to eat. The U.S. government states genetically engineered crops are safe, resist diseases better, and can provide much-needed food in starving nations. YET, Studies show GMOs are not safe to eat and is a danger to the environment. “They got bad science, down to a science”, (“Genetic Roulette”) Dr. Arpad Pusztai demonstrated rats that ate Bt potato developed potentially precancerous cell growth in the digestive tract, smaller brains, livers and testicles, partial atrophy of the liver and damaged immune systems. Dr. Pusztai wanted to find out exactly what went wrong in his potatoes, so he asked the government to provide more funds to conduct follow-up studies. With permission from his Institute’s director, Dr. Pusztai spoke about his concerns about GMOs, carefully not reporting any details of his study since it was still unpublished. Two days after his interview, Dr. Pusztai was fired after 35 years. The government never implemented their GMO safety testing protocol. (Genetically Modified (GM) Foods and Dr. Arpad Pusztai)
If genetically modified foods were labeled, people will have the information whether they will continue to eat GMOs or change their whole food source. To start labeling for reasons other than science that people are fighting for, the outcome will require greater confusion and higher prices. “Mandatory labeling of GM products will reduce organic markets” (Nelson 717) yet, people will have more and more knowledge about GMOs that they can decide whether or not they will continue to eat them. Studies have shown when people find out they have food allergies and they switch to organic foods their symptoms disappear (“Genetic Roulette”).
More than 60 other countries, including all of Europe, Japan, and China require all genetically modified foods to be labeled. For 20 years the United States has been denied that right. If labeling is required, people will have the opportunity to make to choose GMOs or Non-GMOs and they will be better informed about what they are consuming and the truth about the FDA and Monsanto Company.
“GMO myths and truths.” earthopensource. N.p.. Web. 2011
“Peanut allergy kids health” @ CHW. N.p., n.d. Web. 2005
Epstein, Samuel. “Monsanto’s Hormonal Milk Poses Serious Risks of Breast Cancer, Besides Other Cancers, Warns Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Illinois School of Public Health”. N.p.. Web
“info wars analysis finds monsanto gm corn.” . N.p.. Web. 2013.
“GMO GENIE-Part 1.” Monsanto to blame for Bee Colony Collapse Disorder. N.p.. Web
Genetically Modified (GM) Foods and Dr. Arpad Pusztai. N.p.. Web. 2010