American diets are being bombarded with genetically modified foods. Big seed companies initiate it. Big government enables it. Big food business loves it. But Americans are the ones paying the price through their pocketbook and especially their health. And worst of all, as the old song goes, it may be "killing you softly."
For those who may be unaware, genetically modified plants are grown from genetically modified or engineered seeds, which are created to resist insecticides and herbicides so that crops can be grown to withstand a weed-killing pesticide or integrate a bacterial toxin that can ward off pests.
As I pointed out in my C-Force health & fitness syndicated column this week on the same issue, genetically modified foods have been sliding into our diets since 1995, when the EPA analyzed genetically engineered corn.
Today, in the United States, as much as 80 percent of packaged foods contain ingredients that have been genetically modified, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association. And 90 percent of many U.S. crops are grown with genetically engineered seed. In Iowa, for example, 91 percent of the corn and 93 percent of the soybean acres were genetically modified last year.
But unlike 60 other countries around the world -- including the European Union, which has required that genetically engineered foods be labeled since 1997, most Americans will never know if they are consuming GMOs because there are no federal and few state laws that require GMOs to be listed among food ingredients.
And where does our government stand on all this GMO business and proliferation?
The Chicago Tribune reported that the Food and Drug Administration has permitted the sale and planting of genetically modified foods for 15 years and that the Obama administration has approved an "unprecedented number of genetically modified crops," such as ethanol corn, alfalfa and sugar beets. The Alliance for Natural Health added that the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture now wants to eliminate any regulatory controls from genetically altered corn and cotton.
Strangely, instead of overstepping their boundaries as they do with virtually everything, the Obama administration retreats from any type of enforcement or regulation forcing food companies to list GMOs among their foods' ingredients.
Can you say aiding and abetting the enemy?
Leading the pro-GMO march is Monsanto, the world's largest seed maker and a publicly traded American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. The colossal seed giant is moving full-steam ahead to become the No. 1 U.S. and global farm supplier. They are so monopolizing the seed industry that Forbes recently cited a Fortune article noting that Monsanto "expects to earn about $5.1B in the current fiscal year and double its earnings per share within the next 5 years." The article concluded by calling Monsanto: an "unstoppable Leviathan" and saying that "GMOs are here to stay."
Public demand for transparency when it comes to GMOs is becoming louder, yet government approval advancing their use moves ever so quietly forward. For example, missed by media and little corporate fanfare, the USDA weeks ago gave its stamp of approval of a second-generation GMO soybean plant designed to resist a toxic herbicide called isoxaflutole, an agent that has been labeled by the Environmental Protection Agency as "a probable carcinogen."
Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety has been tracking the introduction of these second-generation GMO crops. Says Freese: "Biotech companies are now poised to introduce a host of 'next generation' GE crops resistant to more toxic herbicides as a false 'solution' to massive weed resistance. But their effects will be to generate still more intractable weeds resistant to multiple herbicides."
Almost all genetically engineered foods have been engineered for one purpose: to tolerate higher levels of herbicides. The problem is, weeds are constantly becoming more tolerant to the weed killer, creating a vicious cycle resulting in higher usage of more and more toxic herbicides such as Dow' AgriSciences' 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange. This requires more modifications to genetically modified foods.
As I've pointed out on this issue before, instead of eradicating the need for insecticides and herbicides, genetically modified plants will warrant stronger and more intense pesticides in order to outwit and overcome superbugs and greater strains of diseases.
And who's to say what GMOs will do -- now or in generations -- inside our bodies as we consume them on a greater scale and they become a part of the bacteria in our digestive tracts?
With more and more U.S. foods being grown, manufactured and imported from places such as South America and Eastern Europe -- the precise areas outside the U.S. where Monsanto's biotech seeds are gaining their greatest foothold, food imports are quickly becoming a recipe for disaster. Remember, too, much of the GM crop grown around the world is used for livestock feed, so there's more than one way for GMOs to be ingested in your diet, such as from meat and dairy products.
According to GMO food proponent Dr. Pamela Ronald from UC Davis, "Genetically engineered crops currently on the market are as safe to eat and safe for the environment as organic or conventional foods."
But is that the case?
The Alliance for Natural Health cited the late George Wald, a Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology and one of the first scientists to speak out about the dangers of genetically engineered foods: "Recombinant DNA technology faces our society with problems unprecedented, not only in the history of science, but of life on the Earth. ... Now whole new proteins will be transposed overnight into wholly new associations, with consequences no one can foretell, either for the host organism or their neighbors. ... For going ahead in this direction may not only be unwise but dangerous. Potentially, it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of cancer, novel epidemics."
Equally alarming is a recent study that was published in the journal Neurology. According to Medical Daily, a review of 104 studies conducted around the world revealed that exposure to pesticides, insecticides, weed killers, fungicides, solvents, etc., increased the risk of developing Parkinson's disease by 30 to 80 percent.
If there's a bright light on the GMO horizon, it's going to happen because we consumers put the pressure on the food industries and cry out to individual food companies.
As a result of consumer advocacy, Whole Foods plans to require labeling in all products sold in U.S. and Canadian stores by 2018. And General Mills plans to stop using bioengineered cornstarch and sugar cane for its original Cheerios and to prominently display the fact.
Who's next? That's up to you and me.