Why I Advocate Labeling of GMOs. (January 22, 2016)
When I express my concern about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) not being labeled to my Federal Representatives, I keep getting replies stating that studies show no conclusive evidence of danger from GMOs. And, the emails go on to say, that forcing companies to label that their products use GMOs would be detrimental to those companies because of the negative connotations that are associated with GMOs.
The studies they refer to are provided to them by the companies that make GMOs. Pardon me if I declare that there is a possibility of bias there. And just to be perfectly clear, I’m not just referring to the dangers presented by the GMOs. I’m also referring to the chemicals/poisons that GMOs make it possible to use on the plants that are part of our food system.
What I see is the epidemic number of children’s hospitals that have been built during my life time (since 1961). What I see is diseases that were associated with the elderly have become diseases of the young.
What I see is people accepting without question the explosion of prescription drugs developed so that their bodies can function (the way they are supposed to function without any drugs) in spite of whatever it is that is happening to them.
I’m sure there is no one reason for this, but there is one common feature they share: humanity. People have been messing about with the world around us for a very long time; but it hasn’t been until recently (and I mean the last 200 or so years) that the messing about has made such enormous changes to the world around us and in us. And in the case of GMOs, the time frame we’re discussing is in the last 40 years … which translates to 2 human generations.
GMOs are not the same as selective breeding for a specific trait. When breeding for a specific trait, that trait is already part of the make-up of the thing being bred. GMOs are created when “genomes have been precisely altered at the molecular level, usually by the inclusion of genes from unrelated species of organisms that code for traits that would not be obtained easily through conventional selective breeding.” (from the Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Change – evolution – it’s the same thing. When conditions remain constant, change is not necessary. But when something new is added that new thing upsets the balance of the previous constancy. Whether for better or for worse, change is the act of evolving to accommodate the new. The same goes for if something is removed.
Humans seem to think that because they have figured out HOW to do something, it gives them the right to DO that something. No, it just gives them the bragging rights to say they figured out how. (And while humans have mapped DNA, we do not know what 99% of that DNA does. We call it ‘junk DNA’ because we don’t want to admit that it might be important and we just don’t know why.)
Long term effects can take multiple generations to show up. The generation of a mouse (for example) is not the same as a generation of a human and studies that try to use one type of generation as a model for what will happen in another generation are flawed from the beginning.
So too are studies that control the environment and interactions of the subjects because they want consistency from the results. Life is not like that. Everything interacts with everything else. Granted some interactions appear to cause very little upset when they occur and so we put them down as ‘interactions we know for certain’. Generally speaking, these interactions happen on a macroscopic or even gigantic scale; but this is only from our perspective. Compare the lifetime of a human to a lifetime of a mayfly compared to the lifetime of a planet. We have many divisions to measure time and the greatest one is how long it takes the Earth to go around the Sun. But there are many things bigger than humans in this universe and there must be bigger measurements of time; for example how long it takes the galaxy to revolve around its axis one time.
When I express my concerns about GMOs, I am expressing my concerns about how little humans know about what happens after: mutation (‘the changing of the structure of a gene, resulting in a variant form that may be transmitted to subsequent generations, caused by the alteration of single base units in DNA, or the deletion, insertion, or rearrangement of larger sections of genes or chromosomes’).
We already know there is a mutation to the plant created with the GMO. What we don’t know is how that mutation upsets the balance in whatever ingests it. Does that animal’s protein structure mutate to accommodate it and what about their offspring? Let’s say a human eats the mutated flesh of the offspring, do those mutations interact to cause the same or new mutations in the human? Or perhaps it only effects the human through their offspring, as in a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm… and what about when those multiple mutations combine in the creation of a new human life? Do the resulting mutations within the baby interact with what that baby ingests directly which has more and/or different GMOs?
This is why the effects are a problem: they have exponential growth (‘growth whose rate becomes ever more rapid in proportion to the growing total number or size.’) And if the rate of mutation transference is slower than my example, it is even more difficult to detect through non-generational research.
Studies follow straight lines. That is the nature of research. To study one aspect of something at a time because otherwise the results are always different. Isolation is fundamental to research.
Life cannot be isolated. It has exponential lines that twist and turn, broaden, truncate, narrow and… descriptive words that I don’t even know.
In my lifetime, when more people start being diagnosed with a particular disease, the phrase that arises is “it’s always been around, we just didn’t have the skills/technology to detect it before, so it only SEEMS like more people are getting it”. That justification has never rung completely true to me. Sure, that may explain some increases, but it doesn’t explain everything.
What we know is that while we know how to detect some things – that we have the skills and the technology – we didn’t always have those capabilities: we evolved. Just so, we should realize that someday we will have the skills and technology to detect what we cannot today; and we will look back and shake our heads at what we allowed to occur through our arrogance because we figured out HOW to do something and then went and DID that something without knowing what effects it would have over generations.
There is an old adage: Hindsight is 20/20. Everything we thought was true at some point in history (our past) gets replaced by a new truth. When we look back, we can’t believe that people were stupid enough to think the Earth was flat. Just so, if humanity survives, I believe we will look back and say, I can’t believe people were stupid enough to allow GMOs to be introduced into our lives.
This is my point: there has not been enough time to do effective, generational research as to the effects of GMOs! They simply should not have been introduced into our food supply in less than 3 generations (if that soon). And because we don’t REALLY know what they are doing to us, we have the right to know if they are in our food.
I have the right to choose what I eat. And the only way I can make the choice is to know what is in my food. There are already laws in place that demand that food has labels listing their contents.
Those companies that use GMOs in their products are required to say so on the label in other countries. They spend extra money making labels that DON’T disclose this information to the people in the USA. They would save money using the same labels here as they do in the rest of the world.
Moreover, why should any company get special treatment about what they do NOT have to disclose. It is truly a sad statement about our Representatives in this Democratic Republic when companies are being protected from the citizens instead of citizens being protected from the companies.
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