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There are people who openly scoff at the notion that genetically altered foods are dangerous.  After all, the FDA and many other authorities, including scientists, have declared GMOs to be safe.  The U.S., however, unlike all other developed countries, doesn’t require safety testing for GE plants.  The FDA, more than 20 years ago, simply declared these plants to be safe and backed their claims on industry studies.  We have decided to allow foxes to guard the hen house, hence an official policy of “voluntary safety consultation.”

The FDA’s policy is inadequate at best.  They have not authorized any independent studies, relying exclusively on data supplied to them by Big Ag.  Here, in a letter sent to Monsanto in 1996, the FDA outlines their policy.  “Based on the safety and nutritional assessment you have conducted, it is our understanding that Monsanto has concluded that corn grain and forage derived from the new variety are not materially different in composition, safety, or other relevant parameters from corn grain and forage currently on the market, and that they do not raise issues that would require premarket review or approval by the FDA.”  End of government involvement.

Other groups, however, such as the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) have been issuing warnings about the consumption of GE foods for years.  They have found that “the percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise.”  The American Public Health Association and American Nurses Association in particular condemn the use of GM bovine growth hormone, because the milk from treated cows has more of the hormone IGF-1, which is linked to cancer.

After persistent investigation, it was also discovered that a genetically altered food supplement, L-trytophan, killed about 100 people and caused sickness and disability in another 5,000 to 10,000 people in the late 1980′s.  Another independent study, known as the French study, and also the longest running and most comprehensive study done to date on the effects of GMOs, concluded that there were serious concerns involving the consumption of genetically altered foods.

Jane Rissler, Ph.D. and a senior staff scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, pointed out that “you’ve heard industry say, for example, that there is no evidence that these foods are harmful.  After all, people in the U.S. have been eating them for several years now.  Do you believe that statement?  Isn’t it a bit disingenuous?  How would we know if someone had gotten ill from genetically altered food if it’s not labeled?  How could there be evidence if they haven’t allowed the food to be labeled [or tested]?  They’re now saying, well, there’s no evidence of harm.  But that’s because they haven’t allowed any way to track them.”  Larry Bohlen, Director of the Community Health and Environment Program for Friends of the Earth, stated that “companies like Monsanto have been aggressively and recklessly marketing their products, climbing over each other to get to the patent office so they can maximize their profits.  This means they’ve ignored critical safety and environmental tests that should have been run.”

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine currently urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients.  They cite animal studies, such as the French study, showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility.  Human studies also show how genetically modified foods can leave material behind inside of us, possibly causing long term problems.

There are sufficient red flags out there to warrant a cautious and wary approach when considering the safety of genetically altered foods.  That political concerns largely keep this information from the public is dangerous.  The FDA does not require safety studies, nor does it mandate labeling, and this despite the fact that secret agency memos made public by a lawsuit “show that the overwhelming consensus, even among FDA’s own scientists, was that GMO’s can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects.”  They urged long term studies, but were side-lined by the White House in an effort to promote biotechnology.

Monsanto has told us, over the years, that Agent Orange, PCBs and DDT were safe.  They now wish us to believe that genetically altered food poses no risk.  Scientists who have labored to produce evidence to the contrary have been gagged, fired, threatened and denied funding.  When charges of hysteria are attached to anyone who speaks out against the dangers, real and potential, of GMOs, it’s difficult, among mounting evidence, to take those charges seriously.  U.S. citizens have become guinea pigs in the capitalistic venture of Big Ag, and up to now have not forced our government to protect us.  More and more, big money is compromising our health and the health of our environment.

Recipe of the Week

I came across a recipe the other day, one called Texas Caviar.  Not being particularly fond of black-eyed peas, I altered the recipe to feature black beans.  You can use it as a salsa, as a topping over green salad, or as the finishing touch on a simple cheese enchilada.

2 can organic black beans, rinsed well

2 fresh jalapeno peppers, de-seeded and minced

1 small onion, minced

1 tbls. fresh oregano, minced

1 tbls. hot sauce

1 tbls. Worcestershire sauce

plenty of black pepper

1 medium tomato, diced

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 cup vinaigrette (1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbls. dijon mustard)

Mix all ingredients.

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