The menace of GMO

Monsanto, which produced Roundup for weed control along with a host of controversial chemicals, began genetically modifying crops in 1987.  GMO ingredients are today in cereals, crackers and popcorn, and starting to turn up in fresh fruits and vegetables. Sherrie warns we should be deeply worried.

Sherrie Versluis Feathered Friends
Sherrie Versluis

One of the biggest concerns in the world of the environment and human health today is not a what but a who.  It is a company called Monsanto.  They are often in the media with details of how they have created genetically modified foods. Most people have heard the name but are not truly familiar with the impact this company could have on their own health, the environment, and wildlife.

Monsanto is an American company specializing in genetically engineered seeds.  The company was founded in 1901 and is most known for its creation of the product known as Roundup for weed control. Monsanto later became a leader in the production of synthetic fibers and plastics. They also produced very controversial chemicals like DDT, Agent Orange, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and recombinant bovine somatotropin, an artificial growth hormone to increase milk production in cows.

A tomato gets the gene-modification treatment. The technology worries many people.
A tomato gets the gene-modification treatment. The technology worries many people.

In 1983 they announced they had genetically modified a plant cell and began trials of genetically modified crops in 1987.  I remember hearing this back in my teenage years. The information seemed so unreasonable that I never dreamed the process  would actually become common practice in my lifetime.

Well, I could not believe my eyes when I discovered how many everyday products are today connected to Monsanto in some way. GMO (the “O” stands for organisms) ingredients are now in cereals, crackers and snacks like popcorn. More disturbingly, genetically modified fresh fruits and vegetables are now being sold on store shelves.  In Canada, GMO fresh foods may include squash, zucchini, papaya, sweet corn and even canola oil.  Canada has no regulations regarding labeling GMO products, making it difficult to be an informed shopper.

GMO sweet corn contains Bt toxin which is designed to protect the corn from insect damage. When an insect feeds on a small amount of the corn its stomach ruptures within a short time of ingestion. Insect populations will surely decline rapidly as more GMO crops are grown and these are food sources for many wild birds.

Studies on mice and rats fed corn containing the toxin suffered an equally unpleasant fate.  Red blood cells actually ruptured, kidneys and livers were severely damaged, the adrenal glands, heart and spleen were all negatively impacted after eating GMO corn for a mere 90 days and cancer rates were off the charts!

The great concern about this is that not only will we end up eating that corn but so will wildlife.  Everything from songbirds, waterfowl, and mammals like deer graze through fields, especially after the fields have been cut. There are always remains of the harvested food left behind,  and many creatures consider this a food source.

Many studies are being carried out with GMO foods and the effect they will have on the world as a whole. So far, the results show that this is probably one of the most worrisome issues of our time. United States President Barrack Obama recently signed and enacted the Monsanto Protection Act which totally protects the company from lawsuits or penalties of any kind for the damage they may do to the environment or to people.

Government authorities and the federal department of agriculture want us all to believe that GMO food is safe for consumption. So why is a law being passed to protect the company?  Many organizations have begun an all out campaign to inform us all of the dangers of GMO foods.  Now we must raise our voice to say we do not want GMO foods on our plates or at least that products containing GMO be labeled so we may make the choice.

Here are some groups to look up to inform yourself further and see lists of brand name foods which you most likely have in your cupboards right now that are GMO and you don’t even know about it: Stop Monsanto, March against Monsanto and Occupy Monsanto.

This is a subject none of us can ignore. It is imperative to the health of all living things and this planet that we at least inform ourselves of what GMO foods actually are.

I am personally terrified of the repercussions of allowing this industry to go any further. You should be, too.  Say NO to GMO!

Sherrie Versluis owns ‘The Preferred Perch’. Call her at 204-257-3724.

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