Beware of GMOs, arsenic in food

Oct. 7, 2011
Be wary of genetically modified organisms, arsenic in foodWeird food additives worrying you? Readers offer their views:
Reader response: “Why do we need a warning against genetically modified food? (as urged in a previous column)… I know Europe has been concerned about ‘Frankenfood,’ but I have read nothing to indicate that these fears are empirically based.”
That’s because the United States has it backwards! We’re being driven by profit, not science, or public safety.
Genetically modified organisms with food is under the FDA in the United States and the law is written so that such transgenic (across species) food is considered similar to what’s offered on the market, so it’s considered safe even if there’s no empirical evidence to prove it.
The studies done are industry-sponsored; the companies contend it is proprietary information. So, it’s not “proven” safe. It’s “assumed” safe, and vigorously asserted as safe by those selling it. The U.S. government has bought this line of reasoning and is pushing it internationally as a matter of global commerce, even as other nations resist.
Additionally, GMO seeds are bred to be aggressive breeders. When planted next to open pollinated crops, they soon take over; that prevents those farmers from selling their crops as “organic” while also exposing them to lawsuits by the seed manufacturers for using their seed stocks without paying for it. Such companies have been very aggressive about protecting their patents, to the extent of entering farmers’ fields, testing their crops and suing them!
Beyond that, there’s also the issue of genetically engineered plants affecting the ecosystem (taking over niches filled by other plants; this is occurring now with GMOs growing wild on U.S. roadsides).
Plus, in my view, just from a gut level, I object to and question the validity of using animal genes in plant species; it’s just wrong.
If not banning GMO, food containing GMOs ought to be clearly labeled so consumers can choose what they eat.
Note: GMO is prohibited under certified organic rules.
For more:
•See books and articles by Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology.
•See Michael Pollan’s Sunday article in The New York Times Magazine: How Can You Tell if Food is Genetically Engineered?,http://nyti.ms/nOltMK
•Sign the Environmental Working Group’s online petition asking the FDA to label GMO food: http://bit.ly/o0JTHi
•See the Reuters story: Some 200 groups support labeling drive:http://reut.rs/qUsuvy
Reader response: “You said (in an earlier column) that poultry litter is not recommended as manure for organic gardens because, and I quote, ‘it contains arsenic from feed.’ Is this true?
Chicken feed in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) commonly includes roxarsone, a food additive containing arsenic that is a growth enhancer that gives the meat a pink color.
According to Food and Water Watch, chronic exposure to arsenic is associated with increased risk for several kinds of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as neurological problems in children.
Some CAFOs have stopped using roxarsone; the leading manufacturer of it has “voluntarily” pulled it from the market, and it’s banned in Europe. But it’s still allowed by the FDA, though it has been found to be fouling water tables and detected in chickens sold in groceries.
Note: It’s a banned substance for organic growers.
An excellent article on the subject by Tom Philpott is in Mother Jones magazine: http://bit.ly/nDSWI9.
More on organic mosquito repellents: You can also try: Bt israelensis (Bt-i)-Bacillus thuringiensis var israelensis. It is reported to be safe as an organic application for irrigation and roadside ditches, pastures, marshes and ponds, water gardens, flower pots, bird baths and rain gutters. It’s OMRI approved for certified organic operations and is safe for humans and animals; however, sellers point out “BTI is not meant to be used in water used for human consumption.”
Another natural method that may be employed is use of the mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis. They appear in ditches, but work anywhere that mosquito larvae might be found; including rain barrels.

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

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