It came to our attention here at BauWave that not everyone reading our articles may understand what a GMO is, how it is harmful to you and the environment, and why we push so hard to have them banned. We have written this article to help explain these points.
What Is GMO?
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism; they are also commonly referred to as GM (genetically modified) foods or GE (genetically engineered) foods and organisms. GM foods are, just as the name suggests, food items whose genetic structure has actually been modified in some way. The genetic modification process usually involves the transfer of genes from one organism to another, to ensure that the organism being modified will exhibit specific desirable traits. For example in the past, particular genes have been extracted from arctic flounder and transferred to tomato plants in order to make the tomato crop resistant to cold temperatures. To some this may sound like a futuristic and theoretical concept, but believe us, GMOs are very real and chances are you eat a great deal of them daily. Some GMOs are modified to resist certain weather conditions, some to fend off insects that would regularly eat them, and some are modified to resist normally lethal doses of weed and bug killing chemicals used by farmers, but no matter which way they were modified, they are all dangerous.
Why Are GMOs Dangerous?
Not only does genetically modifying organisms defile nature, but it leads to a host of health problems as well. To start, genetically modified food has been shown to sterilize the population, contribute to infant mortality, and exacerbate the usage of pesticides on a global scale (as mentioned above). It is also believed that our bodies are not able to recognize the genetic signature of GMOs, does not recognize them as food items when eaten, and therefore doesn’t break them down and utilize them as efficiently as it should.
However, what might be even more startling is that due to the complexity of a living organism’s genetic structure, it is impossible for us to track the exact long-term effects of consuming genetically modified organisms. Introducing new genes into even the most simple of organisms can cause any number of complications, and introducing foreign genes into highly complex and evolved organisms such as animals or plants carries even more risk. This threat is exacerbated when you consider that what we (animals, plants and humans) eat becomes us. When an organism consumes a genetically modified food, the structure of this food becomes a part of that organism, and when that organism dies and returns to the ground, or is eaten by a larger organism, the genetically modified structure it consumed, which became part of it, is then passed on to the next organism in the food chain. Everything carries a genetic footprint, and these footprints are passed on and build up throughout the food chain. If this process continues, we don’t know how it is going to affect the structure of our own genes generations down the line.
Scientists have already discovered that consuming genetically modified plant DNA is leading to the creation of GM microorganisms, which are continuously reproducing inside of us. Similarly to what we discussed above, when the bacteria in our digestive tracts feed on the GM foods we consume, their DNA actually changes to incorporate the genetic modifications of the food they ate, and this DNA is passed on when they reproduce. The repercussions of this process are devastating. Some potential dangers are as follows:
- The antibiotic genes inserted into most GM crops could transfer to other organisms, and if this happened, it could create antibiotic-resistant diseases.
- Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) toxins inserted into GM food crops in order to kill pests are reaching the bloodstreams of approximately 93% of women and 80% of unborn babies due to the consumption of meat, milk, and eggs from GE corn fed livestock. If the bacteria in our intestines incorporate this BT toxin gene into their own, they will begin producing pesticide right inside our own bodies.
- Leaky gut syndrome: Occurs when the microvilli in our small intestine get inflamed and cannot perform their protective job properly. The small intestine, which is responsible for approximately 70% of our immune system, sorts through the digested food moving along the intestine, allowing only nutrients, well-digested fats, proteins, and starches to enter the bloodstream, keeping out large molecules, microbes, and toxins. When the microvilli become inflamed, they don’t function properly and can let these large molecules, microbes and toxins into the bloodstream. These large molecules are seen as foreign and perceived as harmful, so your immune system ramps up and begins attacking them.
What Do We Do About It?
First of all we need to stop putting the control of the food we eat into the hands of major, wealth driven corporations. Secondly, we need to understand that the government doesn’t always have the best interest of its people in mind; it is a business like any other, and the goal is to make money. Third, we need to speak out about companies like the Monsanto Corporation. Monsanto is a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, which is responsible for producing and selling 90% of America’s genetically engineered seeds; seeds, which yield genetically modified crops. You might recognize Monsanto from various food production documentaries such as “Food, Inc.”. It is also the same company responsible for developing bovine growth hormone, which has prompted quite a bit of controversy in the past.