Giving Back: An Introduction to GMO’s: What Mom’s Should Know, By T Berokoff
GMOs versus moms!
Many of us are becoming more aware of the genetically modified foods available to us in our markets. Are we better off eating foods that are non-GMO and organic? As moms we are the gate-keepers of the food coming to our family tables. If we are informed, we can make good decisions at the market about what to feed to our families.
First, what exactly is a GMO?
They are genetically modified organisms “created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding” (Non GMO Project).
Seeds, such as corn, are sold “Roundup Ready” meaning Roundup weed killer is genetically inserted into the seed. When these seeds are planted and weeds crop up around them, the fields can be sprayed with more weed killer which kills the weeds, but will not kill the plant as it already has it in it. When the corn is picked and sent to market, the Roundup in the corn goes too. It cannot be washed off! The main ingredient in Roundup weed killer is glyphosate. In fact, glyphosate is the main ingredient in most all weed killers. Monsanto is the largest producer of glyphosate; it is sold under the brand name “Roundup”. I don’t know about you, but we use weed killers. After reading about glyphosate, I immediately went into the garage, and found Roundup – with glyphosate! Needless to say, it was promptly disposed of!
GMOs and our children
With the introduction of GMO’s into our food chain, and the increased use of them alongside of insecticides and herbicides, there is an increase in diseases. On the GMO-awareness website I found the following problems have increased along with the increased sale and distribution of GMOs; food allergies, Type 2 Diabetes, and autism.
One mom’s experience with chemicals
Here’s a true story about Maria, a mom in Salinas, CA who has been a farm worker in the valley for twenty-three years with her husband. They work in and among the poisons on the crops year around. Salinas is known for its beautiful farmland and the lettuce and other crops it produces. It is also home to the increasing use of chemicals to fight weeds and insects in order to grow that produce.
When Maria started to have her children, the first one, Carla was diagnosed with asthma, the second one, Juan Carlos, also had asthma and more. When Maria spoke to Juan Carlos,
he didn’t seem to understand; it seemed to her as if he was a different planet…as if he wasn’t present; when he was 3, he was diagnosed as having Asperger’s syndrome and hyperactivity” (Source). In a study by the University of California, Berkley, Salinas farm workers are being assessed to see what long term effects these chemicals have on their children. It was found that “chemicals can pass through the placenta, gaining access to the baby’s bloodstream and eventually to the developing brain. The brain is more vulnerable at that time than almost any other. Prenatal exposure to even tiny amounts of chemicals can have significant impacts on the brain” (Source). Other studies by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, and New York University School of Medicine concurred that utero exposure to chemicals is a contributor to birth defects, asthma, ADHD, early puberty and obesity. The problems of asthma and brain function of Maria’s children, particularly Juan Carlos, were the direct result of exposure to the chemicals Maria had been exposed to when she was pregnant.
Chemicals found in breast milk!
In another study done by the groups Moms Across American and Sustainable Pulse in the first ever testing of the herbicide glyphosate, they found that 3 out of 10 samples of breast milk tested contained glyphosate. This means eating foods that have been genetically modified by having the herbicide spliced into them, the glyphosate levels build up and stay within a woman’s body for a period of time. They also did a study like the one in Europe so see if there was glyphosate in the mom’s urine. “They analyzed 35 urine samples and 21 drinking water samples from across the US and found levels in urine that were over 10 times higher than those found in a study done in 18 countries across Europe by Friends of the Earth Europe in 2013” (Source).
What can we do? Look for the stickers!
It is a mere 20 years that GMOs have entered our lives. The effects of eating these foods still haven’t been fully researched. On the other hand, it is estimated that most of us would like our food labeled so we know whether or not it is GMO or non-GMO so we are the ones making the decision to purchase a product or not, rather than having a biotechnology company make the choice for us by lobbying to keep our foods unlabeled. The website www.nongmoproject.org provides all products that are non-GMO by brand name and is very helpful as a reference when shopping.
When you buy produce, try to buy organic. There is a sticker on the fruit or vegetable. This PLU code will tell you what you are buying. Conventionally grown fruit consists of four numbers; organically grown fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number 9; while GM fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number 8. If you buy organic products (five numbers prefaced by the number 9), by definition you are buying food that is certified organic and is free of all GM organisms.
To answer my question about eating organic
I will be Giving Back information about new research coming forth about GMOs. There are so many ingredients made from GMO crops that can “sneak” into our eating programs, and I will be sharing more about these in future articles. When our health and the health of our family is at stake, I have never felt the stakes are too high. For me, organic and non-GMO is now a way of life.