GMOs: Genetically Modified Organisms


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By definition a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO), is a gene from the DNA of one species that is extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. You may also have read the terms, GE, genetic engineering or GM genetic modification. Up to this point, you may be asking yourself how this relates to fitness and nutrition. Being a fitness professional, you must not only create program designs for your clients, but educate your clients on nutrition. GMOs were first introduced into our food supply in the early 1990’s. The FDA, Food and Drug Administration does not mandate the designation GMO on the food labels. There are no health benefits of GMOS. Some scientists believe there are extreme negative side effects in consumption of GMO foods. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine reported “Several animal studies indicate serious risks associated with GM food” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation and changes in major organs as well as gastrointestinal system.” FDA scientists warned many times that Genetically Modified Organisms can manufacture unforeseen, hard to detect side effects that may include allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional difficulties. The scientists urged long term studies to be done before releasing the GM into the food supply. They were ignored, lobbyist – $$$ over safety prevailed. A study published by the International Journal of Biological Sciences indicates and proved that three genetically modified corn seeds/varieties were neither sufficiently healthy nor proper to be commercialized.( ) There are 4 major GM crops grown in the US- soy, corn, cotton, and canola. Wheat genetics was more complicated, Monsanto withdrew the application for approval due to farmers concern of world markets rejecting their crop. As you see the countries listed that reject GMOs it would have been disastrous for farmers. The wheat and corn/maize we consumed pre 1990s is not the same as what we consume today. Today’s wheat has a new protein called gliadin. This protein is an opiate and binds to the opiate receptors in our brains. This causes stimulation of appetite in most people. According to Dr. William David (author of the Wheatbelly) we now consume 440 more calories per day 365 per year as a result of hybridized wheat. There are differences of opinion on the structural changes of wheat – yes it has been hybridized-changed- but technically speaking it has not been genetically manipulated or genetically modified. Regardless, it is not the wheat of old and there are issues with this new wheat. GMO Maize/Corn was initially introduced in 1997. Today, 80% of the corn grown in the US is Genetically Modified. Consumers are told that most of the corn is used for feeding livestock and as raw material to manufacture “starch” that is in many of the foods we consume and is the basis of many foods and additives. So is it in our food supply? Yes. The human physiology is unique and has the ability to absorb the nutrients we consume to nourish, heal and prevent illness. When the human body does not recognize the molecular structure of what we consume bad things occur, more to some than to others. It may not occur today, tomorrow, or even this year and that is the problem. No one knows, but we do know that mutations occur when there are environmental changes. Humans adapt, it is in our physiology. The frightening thing is, what will the mutation be from the consumption of GMO foods? Those of you that have been in the fitness industry since the 1990s or were adults by the 1990s, I pose a question to you- When you were growing up in the 50’s ,60’s ,70’s 80’s and/or started raising your children during these years and early 1990s, how many people did you know with a “gluten intolerance” or gastrointestinal disease? When did we really see an explosion in Obesity, ADHD, ADD, and Celiac disease. During those years and earlier, we ate naturally grown foods and we had Physical Education in school. There is a correlation of increased obesity to lack of exercise and our newfound technology. It has been our gift and our curse, but the evidence is mounting that our food supply is changing. It is up to you to determine what you, your family, and your clients learn, select and consume. READ ALL CONSUMABLE LABELS-DEMAND NON GMO FOOD. SHOP FROM LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS. BUY GRASSFED BEEF, LAMB, POULTRY. Sources Here’s a list of countries (and U.S. Counties) that have banned genetically modified crops in one way or another. United States: Only the California counties of Mendocino, Trinity and Marin have successfully banned GM crops. Voters in other California counties have tried to pass similar measures but failed. Australia: Several Australian states had bans on GM crops but most of them have since lifted them. Only South Australia still has a ban on GM crops, though Tasmania has a moratorium on them until November of 2014. Peru: has said “no” to genetically modified foods — a 10-year ban on GMO foods. Peru’s ban on GMO foods prohibits the import, production and use of genetically modified foods. The law is aimed at safeguarding the country’s agricultural diversity and preventing cross-pollination with non-GMO crops. It will also help protect Peruvian exports of organic products. Japan: The Japanese people are staunchly opposed to genetically modified crops and no GM seeds are planted in the country. However, large quantities of canola are imported from Canada (which is one of the world’s largest producers of GM canola) and there is now GM canola growing wild around Japanese ports and roads to major food oil companies. Genetically modified canola such as Monsanto’s Roundup Ready canola have been found growing around 5 of the 6 ports that were tested for GM contamination. New Zealand: No GM foods are grown in the country. Germany: There is a ban on the cultivation or sale of GMO maize. Ireland: All GM crops were banned for cultivation in 2009, and there is a voluntary labeling system for foods containing GM foods to be identified as such. Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria and Luxembourg: There are bans on the cultivation and sale of GMOs. France: Monsanto’s MON810 GM corn had been approved but its cultivation was forbidden in 2008. There is widespread public mistrust of GMOs that has been successful in keeping GM crops out of the country. Madeira: This small autonomous Portuguese island requested a country-wide ban on genetically modified crops last year and was permitted to do so by the EU. Switzerland: The country banned all GM crops, animals, and plants on its fields and farms in a public referendum in 2005, but the initial ban was for only five years. The ban has since been extended through 2013. India: The government placed a last-minute ban on GM eggplant just before it was scheduled to begin being planted in 2010. However, farmers were widely encouraged to plant Monsanto’s GM cotton and it has led to devastating results. The UK’s Daily Mail reports that an estimated 125,000 farmers have committed suicide because of crop failure and massive debt since planting GM seeds. Thailand: The country has zigzagged in its support and opposition of GM crops. The country had widespread trials of GM papayas from Hawaii but reversed its plans when the seeds got wild and began contaminating nearby crops. Several countries such as Japan moved to restrict the importation of Thailand’s papayas as a result, not wanting to import any GM foods. Thailand is currently trying to embrace both sides — producing organic foods for some countries at a high price while moving towards embracing more and more GM crops. The country has also tried declaring some areas GMO-free zones in order to encourage other countries to trust their foods. Russia: has suspended imports of Monsanto’s genetically-modified corn in light of a French study which linked the crops to cancer. Russia’s consumer-rights regulator Rospotrebnadzor asked scientists at the country’s Institute of Nutrition to review the study. The watchdog has also contacted to European Commission’s Directorate General for Health & Consumers to explain the EU’s position on GM corn. What countries have embraced GM crops? The U.S. now grows mostly GM varieties of corn, canola and soy. Hawaii now grows GM papayas. Approvals have also been given for GM alfalfa, zucchinis, beet sugar and tomato varieties, though not all are currently being grown. China is one of the largest producers of GM crops. GermanySweden and the Czech Republic are approved for growing GM potatoes. Finland’s government and population is receptive to GM foods. None are currently grown in the country, however, because no approved GM crops are suitable for the country’s growing conditions. The Zambian government has launched a campaign to get the public to support GM technology. Canada has widespread GM crop usage. Nearly all Canadian canola is GM, as is a large portion of the country’s soy and corn. Prince Edward Island tried to pass a ban on GMO cultivation but failed, and GM crops in the region are currently increasing. Spain currently grows GMO maize (about 20% of the country’s maize is GM). The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Portugal, Romania and Poland all grow some GMO maize. The Philippines grow GM crops. The European Union (EU) has approved the cultivation of many GM crops (including potatoes and maize) but individual countries are able to opt out from growing them. However, most EU countries are not permitted to reject the sale of GM foods. South Africa is growing an increasing number of GM crops. Britain officially supports GMO crops and has trials of GMOs like potatoes planted. However, there is widespread public distrust of the crops and Prince Charles has been a vocal opponent of GMOs. South America has widespread planting of GM crops. As mentioned above, Thailand is alternately embracing and rejecting GM crops. India also has widespread GM cotton use. Also mentioned above, the widespread planting of Monsanto’s GM cotton has led to tragedy throughout India. The Indian government even banned conventional seeds from many government seed banks in an attempt to please Monsanto (in return, the country was given International Monetary Fund loans to help its economy) and slow the nation’s poverty rates. An estimated 1,000 farmers commit suicide each month in the country as a result of the crop failure and debt caused by planting the GM seeds. Farmers were convinced to spend what was often 1,000 times the cost of conventional seed on the “magic seeds” after listening to Monsanto’s promises of increased yields and resistance to pests. Despite the promises, the crops were often destroyed by bollworms. In addition, the farmers weren’t warned that the crops would require twice as much water as conventional cotton, leading to many crops drying up and dying. The “terminator” seeds also must be purchased again every year. For farmers used to saving seed from year to year, this was often a final financial blow that led to insurmountable debt. The variation in each country’s laws and views regarding GMOs has led to complications when it comes to exporting foods. For example, Thailand has been working to reassure other countries about the safety of its food but recently had its canned tuna rejected by Greece and the Netherlands after testing showed GM ingredients. The tuna was packed in soybean oil imported by the United States, where most soy is genetically modified. Some Americans are now looking for foods like canola oil and soy products that are not grown in the United States, thinking that it’s a way to avoid GM foods. This is obviously not a good idea. It’s important not to assume that just because a food was not produced in the United States, it’s not genetically modified. Until consumers have the right to labeling informing us of which foods contain GM ingredients, it’s important to be aware of which countries are now growing GM foods and which foods are produced. Sources for Country Information Stephanie Whiteside, Natasha Lennard, Assistant News Editor at Salon Alicia Bayer, Independent Writer Best regards, Athena Bell, Exec VP IFPA

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