Article & Photography by John Parks | Owl Staff
It’s early in the morning; you’re late for work, tired, and need something to eat. You decide to pour yourself a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, munch them down, and rush out the door. This might be something you do on a daily basis, but did you know that Kellogg’s uses genetically modified organisms, also known as GMOs or GM crops, in all of their U.S. products? Even their “natural” brands like Kashi, Morningstar Farms, and Bear Naked are all made from GM crops.
Genetically modified crops are plants that have had their DNA modified to make them more resistant to herbicides. Roundup Ready seeds are the most popular brand due to their resistance to the popular Roundup herbicide.
GM seeds have been available since the mid 1990s and have been in development since the late 1980s; however, long-term clinical human trials have never been conducted.
Recent studies show that there are numerous health hazards involved in consuming GM crops. According to the International Journal of Food Science and Technology, “Genetic engineering can cause unexpected mutations in an organism, which can create new and higher levels of toxins in foods…Genetic engineering uses material from organisms that have never been part of the human food supply to change the fundamental nature of the food we eat. Without long-term testing, no one knows if these foods are safe.”
That’s what’s frightening; we don’t know how GM crops affect the human body over long periods of time. Monsanto, the leader in food bioengineering and creators of Roundup, have never conducted human clinical trials with genetically modified food. Monsanto’s website states, “Because existing crops are recognized as safe, the logical starting point for safety assessment of GM food is to ask, ‘what’s different?’”
A new report released in 2012 by The Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal in New York says there are quite a few differences, at least for lab rats, stating, “The world’s best-selling weed-killer [Roundup] and the genetically modified maize resistant to it can cause tumors, multiple organ damage, and lead to premature death.”
This was the longest GMO report of its kind, lasting two years, following the lives of 200 rats. Studies to win regulatory approval for GMOs typically last 90 days, a relatively short amount of time. Rats in the 2012 study began showing fatal symptoms much later than that.
Why isn’t food containing this potentially deadly stuff labeled? In 2012, California citizens had an opportunity to require food distributors to label all GM food products by voting “Yes” on Proposition 37. The result was nauseatingly close after the polls closed, with 53.1% of Californians voting “No” on the groundbreaking proposition.
More than 40 countries around the world already require the labeling of genetically modified foods, so why would California, the first state with the opportunity to vote on this issue, choose not to label GM crops?
Looking at the funding behind the ballot initiative, the answer is clear. According to Reuters, as of November 3, there was a total of $8.7 million of campaign cash in favor of Proposition 37 and a staggering $45.6 million in its opposition. Monsanto contributed $7.1 million to The Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition group in opposition of Proposition 37, nearly negating the money raised by those in favor of the proposition.
Fortunately, not all is lost for those looking for alternatives. Trader Joe’s takes pride in being a natural, non-GM grocery chain. Trader Joe’s publicly supported California’s Proposition 37, believing that the customers have a right to know what’s in their food.
Local organic farms are another great source for non-GM foods; even starting your own garden is a cheap and effective alternative. Remember, no real change will ever happen unless you and other citizens take action!
If you want to help in efforts to successfully pass the initiative where you live, visit LabelGMOs.org to volunteer, donate, or find events related to labeling GMOs.