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Part I (yes, there will be a Part II)

In light of this wave of awareness that’s been sweeping young adults lately (and will hopefully captivate our entire generation one day); I’d like to place extra emphasis on a health topic not widely discussed among us. Knowledge of what we consume on a daily basis.  What is in the food we eat? Now, this is not to be confused with calorie counting or dieting.  Nor am I describing something that can not be found on the back of any product (not yet at least). What I’m talking about are Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO’s! Although GMO topics have made headlines and breaking news internationally, (not so) surprisingly many people in the U.S aren’t really aware of what all the fuss is about. So if you’re just tuning in to this controversial issue, by all means let me get you caught up!

First, let’s define what we’re even discussing here! So for those of you that don’t know, GMO’s are Genetically Modified food(s) created from Genetically Modified Organisms (seeds). Like everything in this world, plants have their own unique biological make-up (DNA); designed to carry out its own unique natural functions in life.  Well, what some lovely scientists have done is essentially play Mother Nature or even God some would speculate. They have made changes to selected plants/ foods DNA, like soybeans, corn, and potatoes to name a few. This process can be completed in several ways, but the two primary methods are Transgenesis and Cisgenesis. Both methods involve having genes inserted into the seeds DNA. The Transgenesis process involves genes from a whole other species, whereas the Cisgenesis uses genes within the same species (or closely related).  Once the process proves successful in breeding and receives approval from the FDA, the seeds are sold to farmers. The Farmers then use these seeds to mass produce this “new and improved super crop”, sell it to our vendors/supermarkets, and voila… the unsuspecting consumer has a shopping cart full of GMO foods- ready to feed it to their families… and no ones the wiser.

The purpose of all this is supposed to be convenience, conservation of natural resources, and most importantly profit. The manipulation of the seeds DNA allows for some plants to produce its own pesticide, withstand severe weather conditions (droughts) or to even grow faster. They can also be engineered to be resistant to viruses, fungi, and bacterial growth. [Now is it just me, or does that shit just sound weird?]This gives farmers more time to gather their crops and ultimately make more money. Agricultural and Biotechnological companies like Monsanto that manufacture and sell these products to our farmers, believe that this is the future for us. They project that with the growing population; there will not be enough resources to go around unless (of course) they intervene (in this way) to create sustainable agriculture. While that sounds good and all, what they are not telling you is that in order for these companies to be able to modify theses products, to then “conserve our resources”, they needed to have purchased the natural seeds first. In essence, these companies are depleting our natural resources themselves, by modifying the natural and only growing more of the modified. The more natural seeds they acquire, have control over, and modify; the less of that natural resource we as people will have.

So, aside from the greedy big business practices of monopolizing our food (making a ton of money off of us) and for leaving the general public in the dark about what is being done to our food; a serious issue is in store for us if these foods are not safe for us to eat! The majority of what we eat and have been eating has been modified, which means it takes up a big portion of our diet. We could quite possibly be poisoning ourselves, over a long period of time with out even knowing it. To paint a bigger picture for you, by 2003 Monsanto had possession of 23% of the world’s seed companies and controlled about 91% of the GM foods market.  The seeds this biotech giant controls are the same ones that are found listed in the ingredients of almost everything you eat. Now to really bring it close to home, the GM food market consists of products manufactured by companies we grew up on, know, and love! Companies like: Kraft, Nestle, PepsiCo Inc., Coca-Cola North America, and General Mills.

Supporters of GMO foods, like the companies mentioned above, have chanted that their products are safe and their practices are ethical. They claim that this can be the answer to solving world hunger. Even U.S Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, has shown support of these companies, declaring “overwhelming scientific research shows that biotech foods are safe and healthy.” Those against it, like the Organic Consumers Fund, have stood by reports and studies that indicate the exact opposite of these claims. The studies they refer to have shown that our health and environment are actually at serious risk, and urge for government intervention in regulating this thriving industry.

So who do we believe? The big corporations or the small organizations and concerned consumers?…If it came down to safety vs. profit, what do you think these business would choose?…

[Interesting so far, isn’t it? Like to learn more? Stay tuned for Part II, which will discuss in-depth: the regulations surrounding GMOs, the studies that have been conducted, potential risks involved, how we will be effected, and more!]