Why You Should Care About Genetically Modified Food

There has certainly been quite a lot of talk over the last few years about genetically modified food (GMO). Some consumers are all for it, some are totally against the idea (like all of Europe and a lot of South America and Africa), and then there is the rest of us who don’t really know one way from another. After all, how bad could it be right?

From the July 1997 issue of Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition:”Genetically engineered potatoes and corn now on the market produce their own pesticide. These crops contain a foreign soil bacterial gene called bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, which creates a toxin in the plant to kill insects.”

Let’s look into how those genes are inserted into the crops. Remember I have a degree in Molecular Biology so this is something I am familiar with. In order to get a new gene into an existing strand of DNA you need a vector. A vector is something that you use to cut into the DNA and insert the gene you want. A very common vector is a virus or a bacterial DNA ring called a plasmid. These work so well as vectors because they are used in nature to share DNA between organisms. They already come equipped with the means to cut and splice DNA. Very convenient.

The problem comes when we ingest these newly designed foods. The bacteria that live in our guts (and there are more of them in number than we have cells in our body… By a lot!) have the ability to incorporate some of the DNA from these newly formed genes and take on some of their characteristics. So there is the potential for our gut bacteria to become in essence, billions of little pesticide factories! No kidding. Once our own gut bacteria incorporate the gene mentioned above it could be almost impossible to get rid of it without totally killing off all of the bacteria in our GI tract. And that would come with nasty consequences as well. What do you think are the detriments to our health of billions of cells producing pesticide within our guts 24/7? I shudder to think of the possibilities! It is a nasty thought indeed.
So forgive me if this all seems like scare tactics. But it should be really really scary to you. If more people knew what is going on perhaps we wouldn’t tolerate such bold faced pressure from big industry. In my opinion it is time that we start listening to the rest of the world and stop the use of GMO Foods in America. Believe it or not there are hungry villages in Africa that are currently refusing GMO food. That must mean something. There really is a major health concern here. I only mentioned one such genetic modification. There are many more going on than that. And if you don’t care all that much about your health and the health of your loved ones I urge you to do some research on the environmental impact these foods are having on the world. I highly recommend the documentary, “The Future of Foods.” Grab a bowl of organic popcorn and have a ball with that one. It is a must see for all Americans!