Inspecting our food choices

The people in Washington will be choosing on whether or not to pass a referendum to require the labeling of Genetically Modified Food or GMO. A measure similar to what Californians considered during our last election.  At the time I voted against it and I seriously regret that now.

I had no background knowledge or deep understanding of GMOs or their potential health risks. I have had a naïve belief the food and drug administration ensures American consumers are well protected and the organization looks out for our best interests.

Unfortunately, political pressure and a revolving door between public office and seats on corporate boards can cause a shift from being a consumer advocacy group to how can companies keep their profits big?

I had no idea how technologically involved the process was. It is not a matter of cultivating traits over time to develop plumper strawberries by slowly finding the plants with traits you want and cross breeding them until the new fruit can be harvested.

The goal of GMO food is along the lines of helping the survivability of crops and by making it so they can grow in places they previously could not. It sounds wonderful, but may be awful.

The insertion of genetic material from one organism most likely takes place in a sterile lab with breathing masks and petri dishes.

It might be more fitting for it to take place in Doctor Frankenstein laboratory splicing from creature A and inserting onto creature M. Lightning could be flashing and thunder crashing while Igor cackles with delight at the shout, “It’s Alive!” I do not want to be a villager with a pitch fork and incite hysteria.

However, there is a huge problem with science’s capability to out-pace ethics, and its tendency to do something before discovering some disastrous side effects.

A company can create a highly effective pesticide and produce it in mass quantities. It can sell like crazy and seem like the greatest thing ever. The prime example of this is DDT.

DDT killed the bugs, but it also created neurological problems in fish. It lead to the softening of egg shells in birds leading to both Bald Eagles and the California Condor being placed on the endangered species list. An internet search of effects of DDT should turn up a page by Duke University that lays out what the chemical is and why it proved to be so dangerous in unintended ways. It also charts why it took so long to discover how harmful it was.

Today, GMOs are having the same kind of innovation period followed by crud that’s a problem.

In efforts to boost crop survivability some foods are modified, so they can withstand pesticides. One tactic is to use Bacillus thuringiensis or BT a protein toxin that kills plant eating insects.

Instead of spraying it on the plants the deadly protein is woven into their genetic codes. has more information on this.

Corn May Cause Allergies, Infertility and Disease there are links between these same BT engineered foods and everything in the title. Hamster’s after eating this food become sterile. People may also.

Another article by Richard Schiffman entitled Mystery of the disappearing bees: Solved! traces the destruction of bee colonies to the pesticides called neonicotiniods, and the possibility that GMOs also have negative effects on them as well. We need bees to grow crops.

I am not against scientific advances, but I have a huge problem with doing things without considering fall out or not paying attention to unintended consequences. Get involved and do some research of your own.