By Jeremy R. Hammond
There exists today a ubiquitous threat to our health that is literally threatening the future of the human species.
That’s not hyperbole. The threat is real.
The public is taught to think that “genetically modified” when it comes to food just means that it has just been modified to favor certain genes over others, as though it was no different than what breeders have been doing for thousands of years.
But when you breed plants or animals, you are simply helping to direct a natural process by promoting traits that are already coded into the those organisms’ DNA.
Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are nothing like that.
For example, one kind of GMO corn is made by taking the genetic material from a bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis, or “Bt”) and inserting it into the DNA of the corn.
Why would they want to do that?
Well, Bt produces a toxin is really effective at killing insects. Farmers had already been using it as a pesticide. But Monsanto got the big idea of essentially just engineering the toxin directly into the corn so farmers wouldn’t need to bother with spraying it on their fields.
The industry argues that this means less human exposure to harmful pesticides. And that’s true when one considers only the toxins that were being sprayed on the corn. But now the toxin is in every cell of the corn, every bite you take of that so-called “food”, because the corn is engineered to produce the protein that kills insects that try to eat it.
Does that sound like a good idea to you?
Well, surely the government must have affirmed that this Bt corn is safe for human consumption, right?
The answer to that question is: Absolutely not.
Just to give one example, what happens to the developing fetus when the mother eats this GMO corn? We know that the Bt toxin passes through the placental barrier. Scientists have no idea how this might affect the development of the fetus.
Another big idea Monsanto had to be able to sell more of its Roundup herbicide was to engineer crops that are resistant to it. That way farmers don’t have to selectively spray just the weeds in their fields, but can douse the entire field of crops with this chemical.
Does that sound like a good idea to you?
Does it sound like something we need to be doing in order to feed the planet?
That claim is just another canard the industry has used in its propaganda to deceive the public into accepting its GMO products onto the market.
The government, rather than serving to protect the public health interest, has done what it does and served the industry.
And the mainstream media, for its part, has utterly failed to inform the public about the reality of the situation we are faced with today.
For example, the propaganda claim is that GMO crops will help feed the world because they produce higher yields.
We know, however, that that’s not true. They might lead to higher yields for a short period of time, perhaps two or three years, due to the stress being placed on the plant. But in the long run, this is not sustainable.
In fact, the farming practice that does lead to increased yields is organic farming, which is sustainable.
Think about it. Roundup doesn’t just kill weeds growing in the fields. It kills everything it touches, including the bacteria in the soil. Well, those microbes play a vital role in helping plants to enrich themselves with nutrients.
The soil bacteria are to plants what our own gut bacteria are to us. Did you know that we depend on the bacteria in our gut for our very survival? They help us break down food and absorb nutrients. They help us produce essential amino acids. They are an important part of our immune system and help protect us from disease. They communicate with your own human cells and can even affect your mood.
And when you upset the balance of that gut microbiome, you invite disease into the host body.
Similarly, when farmers douse their fields with Roundup, they are destroying the biological diversity that is necessary for growing healthful foods packed with nutrition.
Whereas organic farming enriches the soil with beneficial bacteria and nutrients for the crops, GMO farming deprives the soil of its very life.
Now, tell me, how are we going to save life on this planet by destroying life on this planet?
The idea that somehow, by dousing acres and acres of field with a chemical that destroys all life in that field other than the crop that’s been genetically modified to withstand that poison, we are going to help save the world is utterly preposterous.
This idea that we can somehow save the world by eliminating crop diversity, depleting our soil, and chronically exposing every living person to harmful chemicals on is absolutely insane.
How can it be that this is an accepted practice in our society today?
And it gets much worse.
It’s not just that modifying the DNA of the plant results in it having this one target trait and everything else remains the same. There is collateral damage. Scientists have no idea what the potential consequences might be in terms of the effects on life on this planet.
By altering the DNA structure of a plant, they aren’t just affecting one specific trait. Genetically modifying an organism for one trait also results in a wide range of additional and unintended changes in genetic expression.
And once these genetically modified organisms get out into nature, there is no way to recall them.
There’s this old idea that our genes are something hardcoded into our DNA, something that determines traits you either have or not. But we know now that that’s not true. The GMO industry is built on that model, but it’s an outdated model. We now know that genes have expression. They can be turned on or off.
Genes can be activated or deactivated, and when scientists working for corporations like Monsanto mess with the DNA of organisms, they are messing with something they haven’t even really begun to understand. They have no idea what other genes, besides the one they are intending to change, might also be affected.
And then what happens when we eat a plant whose genetic expression has been altered? One consequence we can expect is an increase in allergies as our own bodies recognize molecules from these genetically modified organisms as foreign invaders rather than as food.
Furthermore, our own gene expression is affected by our environment. We aren’t just hardcoded with our DNA and that’s that. The information is there, but how that information gets translated and expressed is what actually determines what traits you will have. Just because you have a genetic predisposition to a certain disease, for example, doesn’t mean you will have that disease; environmental triggers are required to activate the gene expression that results in the development of the disease.
So how might the altered gene expression of these GMO “foods” affect our own gene expression?
Scientists have no idea.
It would take generations of studies to even begin to understand what the potential long-term health consequences of this might be.
And this experiment is underway. Only it’s not a controlled experiment. We are all the unwitting subjects of this grand experiment with human health.
In this experiment, there is no informed consent. This right is being fundamentally violated.
Another aspect of this grand experiment, apart from the health risks from the GMO crops themselves, are the consequences to the environment and life on this planet from the widespread use of the toxic chemicals that these crops are engineered to withstand.
The main active ingredient in Roundup is called glyphosate. The industry and the government have long claimed that this chemical is safe for human consumption because of the nature of the mechanism by which it works. It disrupts a metabolic pathway known as the Shikimate pathway, depriving organisms of essential amino acids necessary for their survival. Plants have this Shikimate pathway, according to the propaganda talking point designed to engineer consent for this agricultural practice, but humans do not.
Well, that is true. Humans do not share that metabolic pathway with the weeds glyphosate is intended to kill. But the bacteria in our gut we depend on for our own survival do.
Glyphosate destroys the biological diversity of our guts, which affects our health in countless ways that scientists are only just beginning to understand.
It’s little wonder that we are witnessing epidemics of autoimmune and other diseases.
One obvious step you could take to protect your own health and the health of your family is to buy non-GMO foods. But that can be a struggle in and of itself. There have been efforts to enact legislation that would require foods GMO foods (or foods containing GMO ingredients) to be labeled. But—get this—the industry has been fighting this legislation. Think about that: a company that is not only not proud of its product such that it wants to boast about it, but wants to conceal its very existence in the marketplace from the consumer. Pretty big red flag, don’t you think?
Fortunately, there are private organizations acting in the interests of the consumer, like the Non-GMO Project, which does provide labels certifying that products don’t contain GMO ingredients. You can also learn which crops on the market there are GMO versions of (this includes most corn and soy, which are ingredients in all kinds of other products you find on supermarket shelves).
But that’s not enough.
Industrial farmers don’t just spray “Roundup ready” GMO crops with glyphosate; they also spray it on non-GMO crops. They do this to desiccate the crops right before the harvest to reduce the drying time by increasing the rate at which the plant loses moisture.
There is no GMO wheat on the market, for example, but that doesn’t mean your bread doesn’t have glyphosate in it because they desiccate wheat with it.
Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen (meaning that it likely causes cancer).
One could go on and on about the malevolent nature of this mass experiment, which has the potential to cause irreversible harm to life on Earth.
The good news is that, as powerful as companies like Monsanto are with the government serving their interests rather than the general public’s, ultimately, it is we the consumers who are in control.
Every time we buy food, we are voting with our dollars how we think this planet’s scarce resources ought to be directed. Do we want to communicate the message that we want more exposure to known toxic chemicals from our food and even more messing with nature that scientists today can’t even begin to understand? Or do we want to communicate the message that enough is enough?
Let us live in harmony with nature rather than treating nature as something that we must protect ourselves from, something that must be eradicated. The sheer arrogance of the belief underlying the practice of genetic modification of plants and animals, that scientists somehow know better than nature how to create and sustain life itself, is utterly astounding. There are delicate balances in nature that, when disrupted, can have disastrous consequences. These arrogant people who think they can play God are a threat to our very survival.
But we can stop them. We just need to be smarter consumers and make wiser decisions with respect to communicating with our dollars how we want resources to be directed. We need to educate ourselves and then help educate others, until we reach the critical mass necessary to usher in a new era of farming that gets back to respecting nature.
You can start by watching the 9-part documentary series GMOs Revealed. It’s available right now to watch for free online.
The mission of the team behind this effort is to do what the mainstream media has utterly failed to do, which is to inform the public what the real issues are with respect to the release of genetically modified organisms into our environment—to raise awareness of the fact that this giant uncontrolled experiment is underway right now.
As frightening as the situation is, it is not all gloom and doom. Again, ultimately, we the consumers hold the power. This docu-series not only outlines what the problems are, but offers solutions for how to move forward, including steps we can take to protect our health, the health our children, and the health of future generations of humanity to come.
Empower yourself with this knowledge and then join in the struggle by acting on that knowledge.
[Jeremy R. Hammond is Publisher & Editor of Foreign Policy Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org]