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Organic food 301: what you need to know about genetically modified foods

by pkline — last modified Apr 27, 2013 02:50 PM
What is a GMO? A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic, hence they are also known as transgenic organisms. This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same. Genetic engineering is completely different from traditional breeding and carries unique risks. In traditional breeding it is possible to mate a pig with another pig to get a new variety, but is not possible to mate a pig with a potato or a mouse. Even when species that may seem to be closely related do succeed in breeding, the offspring are usually infertile a horse, for example, can mate with a donkey, but the offspring (a mule) is sterile. With genetic engineering, scientists can breach species barriers set up by nature. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes. The results are plants (or animals) with traits that would be virtually impossible to obtain with natural processes, such as crossbreeding or grafting.
  • Organic food 301: what you need to know about genetically modified foods
  • 2013-04-22T09:56:00-04:00
  • 2013-04-29T10:56:00-04:00
  • What is a GMO? A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic, hence they are also known as transgenic organisms. This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same. Genetic engineering is completely different from traditional breeding and carries unique risks. In traditional breeding it is possible to mate a pig with another pig to get a new variety, but is not possible to mate a pig with a potato or a mouse. Even when species that may seem to be closely related do succeed in breeding, the offspring are usually infertile a horse, for example, can mate with a donkey, but the offspring (a mule) is sterile. With genetic engineering, scientists can breach species barriers set up by nature. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes. The results are plants (or animals) with traits that would be virtually impossible to obtain with natural processes, such as crossbreeding or grafting.
When Apr 22, 2013 09:56 AM to Apr 29, 2013 10:56 AM (EST / UTC-400)
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What combinations have been tried? It is now possible for plants to be engineered with genes taken from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Scientists have worked on some interesting combinations.

 

Spider genes were inserted into goat DNA, in hopes that the goat milk would contain spider web protein for use in bulletproof vests.

Cow genes turned pigskins into cowhides.

Jellyfish genes lit up pigs' noses in the dark.

Arctic fish genes gave tomatoes and strawberries tolerance to frost.

Potatoes that glowed in the dark when they needed watering.

Human genes were inserted into corn to produce spermicide.

 

 

Current field trials include:

Corn engineered with human genes (Dow)

Sugarcane engineered with human genes (Hawaii Agriculture Research Center)

Corn engineered with jellyfish genes (Stanford University)

Tobacco engineered with lettuce genes (University of Hawaii)

Rice engineered with human genes (Applied Phytologics)

Corn engineered with hepatitis virus genes (Prodigene)


GMO Tomato

Queries

 

  • Do I understand what is meant by GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)?
  • What are the reasons for and against their use?
  • Which of the foods I purchase, serve and eat are produced with GMOs? How would I find out?
  • Are GMO foods labeled in in the United States?
  • Do I believe that I, and others, have a right to know which foods contain GMOs?
  • Am I willing to speak up about this?
  •  

    Take Stock

     

    Study the list of foods which contain GMOS by consulting the list prepared by The Institute for Responsible Technology.

    Make a list of these foods which are part of your regular diet.  Identify which ones you are willing to buy from organic sources.

    Preparation

    Read

    Seeds of Deception by Jeffery Smith

    Consult these reputable sources to understand the issues around GMOs.

    Institute for Responsible Technology

    Organic Consumers Association

    The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) recently released its position paper on Genetically Modified foods stating that "... GM foods pose a serious health risk". The AAEM called for a moratorium on GM food, with implementation of immediate long-term safety testing and labeling of GM food. The AAEM is just one of many organizations worldwide calling for these steps to be taken.

    Watch

    A 10 minute animated short: GMO A- GO GO

    There are a number of good full length documentaries available. The most recent is Genetic Roulette. This is being shown at Westtown School Theatre at 1:30 on April 28th.

     

    Genetic Roulette

    A helpful list of films is found at Seeds of Deception.

    Unnatural Selection

    Hidden Dangers in Kids' Meals

    The Future of Food

    Listen

    You're Eating What?

    Foster Alternatives

     

    Food labeling is the most fundamental alternative. Join one or more of these campaigns:

    Green America's issue on GMO and labeling

    GMO Inside

    Millions Against Monsanto

    LabelGMOs

    The costs of labeling

    Food and Water Watch GE Campaign, Fact Sheet and Action Page

     

    Reduce Harm

     

    Reduce your risk by knowing which foods contain GMOs when you are shopping. Check out the Non-GMO Shopping Guide.

    Join the consumer boycott of Kellog's products.

    Organic Consumers Association and allies warned Kellogg's, if they used sugar from genetically engineered sugar beets in their foods, they would face a consumer boycott. Kellogg's responded, claiming that, even though they don't use genetically engineered ingredients in Europe, in the U.S., "consumer concerns about the usage of biotech ingredients in food production are low."

    See also the GMO Free campaign - started by Diana Reeves ♥
    CT Mom Turned Activist and Founder of GMO Free USA

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