Genetically Modified Foods

I am a lifelong learner. I love school. My undergraduate degree is in community health education and I have a master’s degree in public health. In 1998 I was in a class about health and wellness and the realization that our health is the foundation for our life. Our health impacts every facet of our life. It was a powerful moment for me and it was the year I turned 30 years old. I began to cry in the class – it was THAT powerful.

So, there are times in my life when I begin to feel stagnant because I have gone for too long without reading a book to learn something new. I’m in that phase right now. And, as I’m still reading Farm Sanctuary, and I’ve watched documentaries all week to get into that learning mode again. Several of the documentaries I had already watched, but wanted to watch them again. When I was going through chemotherapy I watched many documentaries about the linkage between food and our health. Food Matters, Forks Over Knives, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. One of the intresting things about chemotherapy is that it causes “chemo brain,” and because I had dose-dense chemotherapy I had it badly. Chemo brain causes memory problems and confusion. My personal belief is that it’s the brain’s way of protecting us from the stress of being treated for cancer. It shields us from the stress of a cancer diagnosis – and the fear it creates. Luckily, about six months after I finished treatment the chemo brain fog lifted and my memory returned, it’s not as good as it once was, but it’s better. That being said, I’d forgotten much of what I learned in the aforementioned movies. Rewatching them was enlightening.

I also watched a documentary called GMO OMG. I buy non-GMO products from
Whole Foods and knew it was the right thing to do, but I was pretty oblivious to the entire issue about genetically modified organongmonisms (GMO). The documentary is about Jeremy Seifert’s research into GMO’s because he’s the father of three children and he wants to understand the impacts they may have on our health and our planet.

The website www.nongmoproject.org defines GMO’s as:  A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified using recombinant DNA methods (also called gene splicing), gene modification or transgenic technology. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.

If you go to the non-GMO project website it shows rankings for products and it says, “The Non-GMO Project Standard considers animal-derived products such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey to be high risk due to the prevalence of GMOs in animal feed.”  The food listed in the high risk category are: Alfalfa, Canola, Corn, Cotton, Papaya,Soy, Sugar beet, Yellow summer squash / zucchini, Animal products,Microbes and enzymes If memory serves me correct, nearly all of the corn put into our food today is a GMO, and as evidenced above, it’s used to feed animals in the meat and dairy industry. Another reason I’m happy to be a vegan!

The problem with these GMO’s? First and foremost, there’s no long-term research about how they might impact our health. I watched a movie today about a mother’s research into the world of GMO’s after her son started getting sick. The show, Consumed, was alarming and is categorized as a thriller. Danny Glover plays an organic farmer that is bullied by a fictious company named Clonestra, that is genetically modifying seeds and selling them to the farmers surrounding his farm. So, when the seeds spread to his farm he loses the organic status he’s fought so hard to protect. In the end (spoiler alert), the main character makes her point to the CEO of the company by showing him photos of tumor-laden rats that were kept hidden from him by his staff. I think the movie was well done and kept me on the edge of my couch!

I’m just beginning to delve into learning about GMO’s and I will continue to read more about it. I’m more than concerned about this problem. I believe companies must be required to label their products so consumers know when GMO’s have been used as ingredients in our food! I am angry that I haven’t been paying attention.

I was distracted. I was raising two children, working full-time, providing care to my husband after realizing that he suffered an undiagnosed traumatic brain injury on his first tour of duty in Iraq, and then went rigorous treatment and numerous surgeries to deal with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

I’ll close by saying I’m no longer distracted…and I’m paying attention.

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