By Guest Blogger Brazos Minshew, ND, Chief Science Officer at Trivita
Question: Are Genetically-Modified Foods bad for me?
Answer: It all depends on who you ask!
Here is my opinion, but I must say, it is strictly my opinion. Life is usually not all black and white contrasts. Many important decisions we make every day are hued in shades of gray. And, since there is no right or wrong answer in many cases, the conscientious decision you make is right for you at this moment. No one should criticize your choice. Time and experience bring knowledge. This is the only basis for any decision.
?First, here is the “pro” side of the argument. Foods began to be modified in antiquity with selective breeding. In 1866, a scientist that I have spent much time studying, Gregor Mendel, published his first works on breeding common peas to produce certain colors of flowers. His work is the undisputed foundation for modern genetics, the science that eventually gave us hybrid plants. Selective breeding says that I can choose the plants or animals which have a (genetically) faster maturity rate, larger fruit, greater resistance to disease, etc. When I breed two of these together, I get offspring with these preferred traits. So far, so good…?
On the “con” side, selective breeding of today has commercial interests as its focus and not healthy plants, animals, or people. Even selectively breeding for disease resistance, a noble goal, sacrifices the genetic diversity of the species in favor of sales of the product. However, nature has a certain equilibrium that will restore much of the balance and harmony to plant and animal species if left alone. Genetically modifying foods takes the principle of selective breeding to a new area, one that has never been found anywhere in nature. Genetic modification (GMO) literally splices one sequence of proteins into another strand of DNA with the intent of creating a commercially-viable product. With genetic modification, corn stalks can be grown to exactly the same height of machines, so that harvesting can take place with ease.
Another example of modifying corn is the introduction of bacteria DNA to the corn plant. It was found that corn, genetically modified in this way, was resistant to certain pests that were destroying crops. However, nowhere in nature is bacteria DNA part of plant DNA. So, the “law of unintended consequences” goes into effect and great swarms of Monarch butterflies are decimated because the new DNA strand makes corn pollen toxic to butterflies.
How does GMO affect humans? It’s hard to say at this time, because emotional and political rhetoric is obscuring scientific observation. Certain nations have completely outlawed GMO foods because they believe that GMO foods pose a health risk to their citizens. Other nations promote them with, in my opinion, reckless abandon in order to boost the economy of their farmers. The theory here is that “innocent until proven guilty” should apply equally to humans under law and to foods under genetic modification. The argument to support that theory points to starving millions around the world who may benefit from the extra food production in the face of no discernible negative impact in the scientific literature (unless you are a Monarch butterfly). ?
In conclusion, as a licensed healthcare provider and before becoming Chief Science Officer for TriVita, I saw sick people daily. Many of these people were suffering from the “law of unintended consequences” from medications that were recalled: herbicides like Agent Orange, pesticides like DDT, manufacturing materials like asbestos, toxic by-products of industry like PCBs and mercury, and a host of environmental disasters that kill people like monarch butterflies, in swarms. I am not comfortable with an “innocent until proven guilty” mindset anymore. We should have definite proof of safety before we try something new on an unsuspecting population. Furthermore, we should buy local, organic produce and consider growing some of our own food. Really, just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should; just because we have the power to make these changes doesn’t mean we have the right. In my opinion, GMO foods are ‘guilty until proven innocent!’?
Take control of your health.
Read labels and decide for yourself.
Look for farmers' markets.
Buy local and organic.
Plant a garden.
Don’t relinquish your right to choose!
http://healthlibrary.epnet.com/GetContent.aspx?deliverycontext=&touchurl=&CallbackURL=&token=882325a2-3bd2-4d3a-ab7a-b37d6ee56dce&chunkiid=13411&docid=/healthy/aging/2000/gardening/indexPlanting Non-GMO Vegetables http://healthlibrary.epnet.com/GetContent.aspx?deliverycontext=&touchurl=&CallbackURL=&token=882325a2-3bd2-4d3a-ab7a-b37d6ee56dce&chunkiid=13932&docid=/healthy/eating/2000/garden/indexBuying Organic http://healthlibrary.epnet.com/GetContent.aspx?deliverycontext=&touchurl=&CallbackURL=&token=882325a2-3bd2-4d3a-ab7a-b37d6ee56dce&chunkiid=13960&docid=/healthy/eating/2000/organic_regulations/index