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Why Are You Eating Transgenic Food?

GM blackberries

trans·gen·ic (adj.)

Of, relating to, or being an organism whose genome has been altered by the transfer of a gene or genes from another species or breed:transgenic mice; transgenic plants. (answers.com)

Have you ever eaten transgenic food?

You’re not sure, but it’s doubtful you’ve ever even seen transgenic foods … right? The sad truth of the matter is, that if you have purchased groceries in the United States during in the past 20 years, it is almost certain you have not only seen them, but you’ve eaten your share of transgenic crops.

Often called “genetically modified” (GM) foods—a term that covers any genetic manipulation, even cross-breeding—a more accurate descriptor for the high-tech manipulation of our food supply today is “transgenosis,” and the food produced in this way is “transgenic.”

Instead of imagining George Washington Carver happily admiring the plants in his garden, think of a molecular biologist in a research laboratory. The work is at the chromosomal level, where genes are transferred from one species to another—species that may normally not even consider producing offspring.

And we’re not just talking about crossing one type of soy bean with another—transgenic technology is a free-for-all, incorporating genetic material from plants, animals, and bacteria all spun together into a previously unheard of offspring.

Monsanto and Genetic Modification

No wonder consumers are beginning to get concerned—there are, essentially, no regulations governing transgenic foods—therefore, no need for the agro-giants to prove their Frankensteinish crops are safe for long-term consumption.

It all began in 1994 with the introduction of the Flavr Savr tomato (a.k.a. CGN-89564-2) by Calgene, Inc. They went broke within a few years (the industry spin is that Calgene was inexperienced and ill-prepared, but others say tasteless, high-priced tomatoes may have had something to do with their troubles).

One thing is for sure, though, the company who bought them out—Monsanto—took the transgenic ball and scored a touchdown. Consequently, the majority of corn and soybeans produced in the USA today is transgenic. You may not have known that, though, since there is no requirement for transgenic crops to be labeled as such. On the typical grocery store shelf today, in the USA, up to 70% of the food items include a transgenic component.

Should you be concerned about the potential effects of GM foods?

Consider the case of StarLink corn. Through the miracles of biotechnology, Aventis CropScience found they could dispense with the necessity of spraying corn for bugs by genetically modifying corn to produce its own pesticide.

Humans don’t like to eat pesticides, though, so StarLink corn was used for animal feed only (which doesn’t make much sense either, but hardly any of this does). A couple of years down the road, StarLink was found in corn tortillas, then in other foods on the grocery store shelf. Aventis voluntarily stopped production of StarLink seed (to their credit), but the company was promptly gobbled up by international giant, Bayer AG (who, it turns out, makes a whole lot more than aspirin).

What can you do about genetically modified crops?

Genetically modified peanuts
Insects ate the non-GM leaves and flourished (top), but died trying to eat the GM “protected” leaves (bottom).

Either blissfully eat whatever you find at the grocery store or get active.

  • Urge the government to enact legislation that would require stringent testing for the safety of transgenic (GM) crops and the labeling of all foods containing them.
  • Vote at the grocery store. Let the retailers know about your concern and ask them to find and offer non-GM foods.
  • Buy locally-produced crops from farmers who don’t use GM seeds or methods. Be especially careful about the foods you juice.
  • Grow your own—but be careful about the seeds you use. Look for “Heirloom” varieties. Anything you lose in crop size or volume will be more than made up for in taste.

The agri-giants want you to believe the choice is between high-tech farming methods or starvation, but that is not the case. When it comes down to choosing between their profit and your health—choose health.

By the way … Stockton Aloe 1 products are made of 100% pure, hand-filleted Aloe vera. We take our raw material only from the precious barbadenis miller-stockton variety of Aloe, and it absolutely NOT genetically modified (GM).

At Stockton Aloe 1, we care about you … naturally.

(Blackberries photo by Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons | Peanut leaves photo by By Herb Pilcher, USDA ARS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
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