There is an elephant in the room, or at least in the kitchen, related to this whole business of cleaning up our lifestyles: food. All this time, I’ve discussed what goes on our bodies or what’s around our bodies. But chances are, we spend a whole lot more time putting stuff in our bodies. I am not going to turn this into a cooking blog (although I do enjoy cooking. And eating). I only plan to touch on the topics that relate to safety and health and general well-being.
GMO’s, to begin with
Genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s, are getting a lot of press these days. For a quick overview, GMO’s are foods that have been altered at the genetic level. Beyond a mere cross-breeding, or hybridization, these foods have had new material inserted into their genetic code. This material may come from other plant or animal species, or it may come from synthetic sources. Proponents of GMO’s advocate that this science can increase food supply and diminish famine around the world. However, the practice of genetic modification has focused mostly on creating new crops that are resistant to herbicides, like Round Up, thus enabling growers to expose their crops to increasingly intense amounts of the chemicals. Other issues have arisen when genetic code from an allergen have been inserted into previously harmless foods, such as jellyfish genes inserted into tomatoes. Suddenly, people with fish allergies are allergic to tomatoes. (This one was done to increase the cold tolerance in tomatoes.)
This is not a futuristic science. It’s already out there. Nearly 90% of domestically grown conventional corn, soybean, and canola are already genetically modified. Over 80% of prepackaged foods contain GMO’s. Did you know this? Only if you have gone out of your way to find out.
So what’s the big deal
There are many different arguments against consuming genetically modified foods. However, topping my list is the unknown aspect. There have been no long term studies on humans of the impact of consuming GMO’s. The studies done on animals have had mixed and disturbing results.
Currently in California, the Right to Know campaign has submitted a petition with over 971,000 signatures requesting labeling on genetically modified food. Take note, that this campaign is only addressing the issue of labeling the foods. It is not taking on the existence of such foods. On the day these signatures were submitted, I spoke to supporters and the press regarding this issue. Here’s what I said:
- Full disclosure. Honesty. Truthfulness. In my house, we teach that decisions must be based on facts, and that above all else, we must be honest and true. The issue of labeling genetically modified foods is fundamentally about full disclosure. It’s about honesty. And it’s about truthfulness. We teach our children that to know, is better than not to know. That bringing truth to light is better than keeping facts in the darkness. Let’s show them that as adults, we practice what we teach.
- I have three children. No one cares more about the well-being of my children than my husband and I do, as is the case with every mom and dad here today. It is part of our job to protect them and strengthen them as they grow. But we need the tools in order to do this, and in this case, the tool is information. We need to know exactly what they are eating. Labeling genetically modified food gives us more of this information. No corporation, no governmental program, no scientist or laboratory can replace the judgment of a parent. By hiding this information, they are keeping us from doing our jobs well. And ultimately, raising our kids is not their job. It is my job and it’s your job. They don’t have the time or wherewithal to do this job. So let’s just take that off their plate. Let us have the information we need to do our job. Label genetically modified foods.
- I refuse to let myself or my children be someone’s science experiment. There has been no long term testing on humans regarding the effects of consuming genetically modified food. The idea that my beautiful daughter is actually their lab rat really bothers me. Ten years down the road will we discover that her kidneys malfunction and all causes point to the consumption of genetically modified foods? Maybe. And what would be said then? “Whoops! We didn’t know. Here’s your money back.” It is irresponsible, it is juvenile, and it is immoral to subject people unknowingly to untested scientific research.
- America is founded on the premise that every individual is capable of having his or her own voice, and making his or her own choice. It is also fundamental that every person have access to the information they need in order to make informed and sound choices. Producers of genetically modified foods claim that this information is irrelevant, that it doesn’t matter whether or not the food we eat is genetically modified. However, that is not their choice to make. We decided long ago that we don’t need Big Brother making our choices. We have the right to know, so that we can choose for ourselves.
- Forty other countries around the world already have claimed this right for their citizens. Forty other countries, including China, Japan, and every country in the European Union, already have labeling on genetically modified foods. Shouldn’t we?
- The next time our kids ask us, “What’s for dinner?” let’s have an answer for them. Furthermore, let’s give our kids an excellent example. Let’s show them what it means to care about truth, to seek out knowledge, to take a stand for a fundamental American right. Just label genetically modified food.
These two sites will give you a great overview, as well as giving you the opportunity to join in the call for labeling.
Non GMO Project: www.NonGMOProject.org
This project verifies food suppliers whose sources are free of GMO’s. It contains a good shopping guide, as well.
As always, please ask me if you have any questions about the issue.