OMG is That a GMO?

A Series that takes a closer look at the Genetically Modified Movement. Genetically Modified Organisms. Also known as GMOs, with a silent and unmistakeable taboo that surrounds them. But why? What exactly are they, and why are they all of a sudden the “bees knees” in the news, the grocery store and your box of Frosted Flakes in the cupboard? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t so simple, but we plan to give you the clean cut low down with as many facts and the minimal fluff possible. GMOs are plants or animals that have undergone a process wherein scientists alter their genes with DNA from different species of living organisms, bacteria, or even viruses to achieve desired traits such as resistance to disease or tolerance of pesticides. Now, if you’re like us – you’re picturing mad scientists in scary trench coats, in a super secret squirrel laboratory surrounded by miscellaneous animal fetuses in jars, that are creating neon colored seeds that will be resistant to the apocalypse. However, that’s not exactly how it works. Though, these living organisms are in fact artificially created in a laboratory through genetic engineering, with research engineers that may or may not be wearing creepy trench coats. So, why were they created? Virtually, commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide to yield a larger harvest. Whoa, did you catch that last part? Produce an insecticide. Meaning, they are essentially engineering edible pesticides (aka rhino lined crops that produce their own pesticide so that pests don’t dare dine on them). In the US. GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food. Some call it processed food, we call it pesticide a la Poptarts.   Despite biotech industry promises and hallelujah preaches, none of the GMO traits currently on the arrest offer increase yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit. So then, why do they say all that hoop-lah? In most developed countries around the world, GMOs are not considered to be safe. In fact, in more than 60 countries, including Australia, Japan and the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans (they used the ban hammer alright) on the production and sale of GMOs. Wait, so pretty much everybody else sees them as bad juju – so why are they still okay in the United States? An even better question, why are so many people and consumers completely in the dark about GMOs? In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit for their sale. Hello, can someone say conflict of interest? Unfortunately, even with the growing number of Americans that voice their concerns and show that they want to see GMO labeling (to know what is in the food they are eating and if it contains GMOs), the powerful money-hungry, fear-mongering biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. Chalk it up to that the mad scientists don’t want to start losing money on their billion dollar industry of franken-food. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMOProject was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve. When you see this pretty little happy-healthy label, then you know that product or food is free of GMOs. Now that you have the quicky version of what is a GMO, dust off your History cap, and let’s see how these buggers came to be: GMOs were fist developed in the 20th century. Technically, when DNA was first isolated and discovered is when the whole kit and kaboodle started. The first GMO patent however, was issued in 1980. What really went down is the first patent on a living organism was allowed and ruled in favor by the Supreme Court. Wait a sec, you mean LIFE can be patented? Yep that’s correct.. Crazy right? See where this is all going yet? Just two years later, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the first GMO. Though, it wasn’t until 1994 that GMOs hit the grocery store shelves. What was this first franken-food you ask? A sweet little tomato; the Flavr Savr tomato to be exact. The delayed-ripening trait (the reason behind the use of GMOs for this food) has a longer shelf life than conventional tomatoes. Hmm, in theory that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Making food last longer, helping sales and reducing waste. What exactly makes GMOs bad then? Ah hah! Hold on to that question! Well just two years after Mr. Tomato head pops up, the first GMO-resistant weeds were discovered. As in these new franken-food are the accomplice for the evolution of franken-weeds. 1) Not so good of news for those now growing and producing these GMO crops and 2) especially not good for those NOT producing GMOs. Picture poor organic farmer John fighting off a giant 12ft tall man eating super week with a pitch fork! Okay, maybe not that intense, but you get the idea. In 1997 (just one year after the discovery of GMO food’s step sibling, super weeds, the European Union rules in favor of mandatory GMO labeling – even animal feed. Sounds like the good ole Europeans were onto something. By 1999 GMO Food crops dominated the industry. The 7 year anniversary, 2003, of the Super Weeds, GMO resistant pests were discovered. Now the good ole giant mutant weed in Farmer John’s field has a companion. Fast forward to 2011, the conspiracy of toxins and poisoning by GMO foods is validated by research in Quebec which found Bt toxins in the blood of pregnant women, showing evidence that the once perceived and overly claimed “safe” additive (cough cough GMO) is in fact passed to fetuses. Currently, ongoing research and the battle of Non-GMO is in full force. You can read more on the movement, breakthroughs, and latest studies at The Non-GMO Project Understand what all the hippie hype is about with GMOs now? It’s bad news bears, for you, for us, for everyone. Follow us for our next segment of OMG is that a GMO series, where we take a look at the effect GMOs have on our economy and on our farmers!

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