Of Note

October is Non-GMO Month

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are “organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.” So says the Non-GMO Project. An example being the gene of a flounder inserted into the gene of a tomato – yes, this really happened. What worries me? That we are tinkering with things we don’t completely understand. Good things do not happen when we try and fool Mother Nature.

Why the hurry by companies like Monsanto to engineer our food crops? For the most part, crops are engineered just to withstand the class of herbicides called glyphosates that Monsanto and sister companies make and sell. Simple as that. So Monsanto’s Roundup, the most widely used herbicide on earth, kills everything except the GMO crop…

Non-GMO graphicThis August an article written by Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., and Charles Benbrook, Ph.D. appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, which called for GMO labeling and scrutiny of herbicides used on GMO crops. According to them, current research findings do not bring glad tidings.

“In March, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans.’ U.S. regulators relied on flawed and outdated data in allowing expanded use of toxic, synthetic herbicides including glyphosate and 2,4-D. New assessments should urgently be conducted….”

The authors urge the U.S. to join 64 other countries that require the labeling of GMO foods. In the US, there is no law stating that a company has to let consumers know if a food has been genetically modified. [Don’t want to eat GMOs? Buy and eat organic, which prohibits the use of GM seed or plants and bans the use of glyphosates. Or buy products verified Non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project.]

The article shines light on the practice of spraying Roundup on non-GMO crops like wheat days before harvest, just to make that harvest easier. Wheat, unless organically grown, comes with extra pesticides. What on earth! Could this practice be making so many people sensitive to wheat?

Residues of glyphosate herbicides have been detected in food, air, water, rain, rivers and lakes throughout the US, according to testing conducted in 2011 by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The authors said they were sounding the alarm “…about the safety of GM crops by pointing to a 2014 decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve Enlist Duo, a new combination herbicide comprising glyphosate plus 2,4-D, a component of the Agent Orange defoliant infamously used in the Vietnam War.

“In the US, glyphosate use has increased by a factor of more than 250 – from 0.4 million kg in 1974 to 113 million kg in 2014. Global use has increased by a factor of more than 10. Glyphosate-resistant weeds have emerged and are found today on nearly 100 million acres in 36 states. Fields must now be treated with multiple herbicides, including 2,4-D. Enlist Duo.”

They go on to say, “We believe the EPA should delay implementation of its decision to permit use of Enlist Duo. This decision was made in haste. It was based on poorly designed and outdated studies and on an incomplete assessment of human exposure and environmental effects. Second, the National Toxicology Program should urgently assess the toxicology of pure glyphosate, formulated glyphosate, and mixtures of glyphosate and other herbicides.”

The article in the NEJM closes by stating, “Finally, we believe the time has come to revisit the United States’ reluctance to label GM foods. Labeling will deliver multiple benefits. It is essential for tracking emergence of novel food allergies and assessing effects of chemical herbicides applied to GM crops. It would respect the wishes of a growing number of consumers who insist they have a right to know what foods they are buying and how they were produced. And the argument that there is nothing new about genetic rearrangement misses the point that GM crops are now the agricultural products most heavily treated with herbicides and that two of these herbicides may pose risks of cancer.”

Want to do something? Check out: Organic Consumers Association, www.organicconsumers.org; Center for Food Safety – www.centerforfoodsafety.org ; Food Democracy Now! –www.fooddemocracynow.org; GMO Inside – www.gmoinside.org; Just Label It – www.justlabelit.org Food and Water Watch, www.foodandwaterwatch.org; U.S. Right to Know – www.usrtk.org