Genetically modified organisms in our food

The phrase “you are what you eat” could actually be quite frightening if the full contents of the product were listed on the label.

Many citizens, mostly in the United States and Canada, have no idea genetically modified organisms (GMOs) even exist, let alone are in more than 50 percent of the food they consume.

As of March 8, 2006, they may never know due to the House of Representatives passing legislation that would ban local and state laws from requiring food safety labels.

GMOs are organisms that contain another species’ genes or DNA. For example, tomatoes can be injected with the genes of an arctic fish to keep it from frosting, or crops can be modified to withstand pesticides and herbicides.

The above explanations may sound appealing, but studies have shown there can be a lot of dangers and risks lurking within genetic engineering.

These facts, and the others following, are taken from one edition of the Choices Natural Market newsletter, produced by Karen King, owner of Choices Natural Market, 6551 E. Riverside Blvd.

In 1999, GMOs were first exposed in Europe after a scientist voiced his concerns about them during a media interview.

The scientist, Arpad Putzai, was said to be forced into retiring two days after the interview aired, and then put under a gag order for many years thereafter.

Still, the interview aired, and European consumers were warned about some of the effects. The U.S. didn’t find out about GMOs until 2001, when thousands of Starlink corn products were recalled due to several people having life-threatening reactions to the product.

One woman nearly died of suffocation after eating Taco Bell shells that contained the Starlink corn. This was just one case of many bad reactions throughout the U.S.

The first warning sign to cause concern with GMO products is they have never been tested on humans. However, tests were run on lab rats, but the results weren’t so good.

During one study, scientists had to force-feed the rats genetically-modified tomatoes because the rats wouldn’t eat them. Seven of the 40 force-fed rats died within two weeks from stomach lesions that developed after consuming the tomato.

Somehow, the tomato still got approved.

“Currently, the FDA does not require genetically modified ingredients or crops to be labeled or tested,” the newsletter states. “It is the policy of the United States FDA to promote Genetically Modified foods.”

So, why would the U.S. FDA want to promote a product that may cause serious health risks—and even death?

One answer could be because the FDA Deputy Commissioner of Policy for GMO foods, Michael Taylor, was a former attorney for Monsanto, a major biotech company that currently holds the patent on more than 11,000 genetically modified seeds.

Companies can run safety tests on a voluntary basis. If a company does conduct the tests, the FDA only reviews the results from the company that is trying to market the product.

Taylor is one of many former Monsanto employees who now work for the U.S. government. Others include Linda Fisher, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice; Mickey Kantor, Secretary of Commerce; Lidia Watrud, EPA; Anne Venemen, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture; Michael Friedman, acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; William Ruckelshaus, chief administrator of EPA; and Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Companies such as Monsanto do not want labels on foods stating it contains GMOs because they haven’t tested these products on humans. Therefore, the side-effects are unknown. More consumers would be wary of buying such products due to the risk.

Many of these commercial GMO crops are grown in the U.S. Some of these crops include soy, cotton, canola, corn, Hawaiian papaya, zucchini, yellow squash and tobacco.

There are many ingredients and foods containing GMOs that might make up a large part of the estimated 70 percent of food sold in the grocery store. These items include vegetable oil, margarines, soy flour, soy protein, soy lecithin, textured vegetables protein, corn meal, corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose, citric acid, lactic acid, infant formula, salad dressing, bread, cereal, meats, dairy products, cookies, crackers and most items that contain soy.

There are also a few non-food products that contain GMOs. Some of these items include cosmetics, soaps, detergents, bubble bath, and prescription and non-prescription drugs.

For more about GMOs, has a variety of links to Web sites with information. For more about the government employees, visit or

Choices Natural Market is at 6551 E. Riverside Blvd. Info: call 282-1861 or visit the Web site

From the March 29-April 4, 2006, issue

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