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The Many Reasons to Avoid Genetically Modified Foods

There are many genetically modified foods available from your local grocer . . . but are you aware of the “interests” behind these foods? When visiting the supermarket one thing is for sure: it is important to examine your purchases carefully. However, even with knowledge and vigilance it may not be possible to avoid them all; genetically modified foods are everywhere. Keep reading to find out more about the GM foods lurking on your shelves.

The most critical thing that happens when you purchase genetically modified food is that you are making an assumption that a multi-billion dollar company has your best interests at heart.  Historical precedent shows that this assumption is poor; cigarettes and asbestos are some examples that spring to mind. In addition, our regulatory agencies are not much better. They do not have your best interests at heart either and are underfunded, indifferent, or powerfully influenced by the very companies that they are supposed to regulate.

Take Michael Taylor, for example, the FDA’s new senior advisor to the commissioner.  If you have ever doubted the influence exercised by outside companies on the FDA, take a look at Taylor’s resume. He is essentially the public face of Monsanto, and has spent his career hopping from the FDA to Monsanto, and back.  Good news, though. He has been substantially exonerated of all conflict of interest charges, (as of 1991) and has recused himself on several occasions to avoid the appearance of impropriety! Take that, FDA skeptics! More maize, anyone?

One could sum up everything we know about the long term effects of consuming genetically modified food in this quick phrase: we are not sure.  There is only one thing we know for certain about genetically modified food is that it is massively profitable.  As for its long term effect on human health and safety, no one has any idea, and the FDA isn’t exactly ready to shut down the market to pursue further study. 

Why are companies so eager to promote their genetically modified products?  Patents.  If a huge biotech firm can come up with a genetically modified seed that actually works, the scientists can make all kinds of safety and yield claims AND have a legal monopoly over that specific product.  For a big company, this is signficantly more interesting than tweaking your supply chain or competing in a commodity-based marketplace.

There is something else to consider: these short-sighted actions based on next quarter profit may, in some cases, cause irrepairable damage to our sustainable agriculture.  It is likely that corporate scientists do not really understand the full implications of what they are doing; they are principally concerned with creating patents and supporting the concurrent marketing claims.  As a demonstration, take a look at the Canadian honey industry, which was almost ruined because of cross-contamination with genetically modified seed.

Avoid genetically modified products when you can. Study your food options and know what the labels mean. Buy organic alternatives, and pressure your local politicians to clean up the FDA.  With some knowledge and a healthy skepticism, you can make a difference.

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