Food quality is a hot topic
in the news today. Many are concerned about current efforts by leading
chemical companies to alter our staple food crops in ways that have no
precedent in nature or science.
Especially as parents, we are responsible to see that our children get the best
start we know about, and the quality of their food is a huge factor. We also
owe it to ourselves to stay as healthy as we can. So what if we are eating
Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs?
Let's take the long view for a moment. For more than a million years, humans have
been eating everything in their local environment that didn't kill
them. If a person tried to eat an animal or vegetable that was poisonous,
that person didn't live to have children. So over the years, humans found what species were edible and what weren't.
Over time, our human ancestors discovered how to cook food to eat even more
variety and to store food more effectively. Eventually we even learned to
replant the seeds of food and to choose the seeds which gave us the qualities
we liked most. And we could do the same with animals once we learned to corral
A few centuries ago, we became far more scientific about "breeding"
our crops and animals, to produce food quicker, cheaper, more efficiently, and
with more of the characteristics we wanted at any given time.
Once we learned about genetics in the mid-twentieth century, scientists began
to imagine that they could actually tinker with the genetic code to hone
in on the characteristics we wanted.
But then the question becomes, the characteristics who wanted? Is it the
scientists who hire the geneticists to experiment, is it the chemical companies
who want the crops and animals to use more of their chemicals, or is it we the
In the book Altered Genes, Twisted Truth,
the author Steven Druker reveals how our image of scientists going in with tweezers and carefully manipulating the genes to improve the crop is completely
misleading, and unfortunately deliberately so.
At least four or five manipulations, almost unfathomable to the non-geneticist, are
applied to the genes at issue, and even then there is no assurance until
scrupulous testing that the wanted results are achieved. For example, in many cases, whether a cell has accepted the new gene is detectable because a light
sensitive gene from a jellyfish has also been injected.
We know that the genetic code of any creature, plant or animal, is extremely
interdependent, and one gene often affects many activities in a cell.
Likewise, groups of genes often operate together to create other kinds of
crucial cell activities. So if we alter one gene because it will now change a
particular chemical in the plant, we have no way of knowing if this
change will also affect how some other important cell chemical is
We also now know that genes are activated and deactivated by other
processes in a cell that are responding to numerous factors in and outside
the cell, including the stress level of the plant or animal. This is the core
of the science of "epigenetics."
These complications may explain how many experiments which we rarely hear about
in the media, but are considered well designed and reported by respected scientists, have shown that when GMO foods are fed to animals, unwanted health
conditions develop at a disturbing rate compared to animals fed the equivalent non-GMO foods.
Most developed countries have minimized the growing, importing, and selling of
GMO foods within their borders. The chemical companies which encourage GMOs say that if they are forced to label GMOs in the USA, the same thing will happen
here because the public doesn't realize that these foods are "safe."
But do we want to feed them to our children? Do we want to experimental lab
The vast majority of all corn and soy sold in the USA is genetically altered today.
And there is no way to know whether these crops may be responsible for the
increases in various chronic conditions like obesity, immunological insufficiency, autoimmune disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, irritable
bowel syndrome, and other inflammatory diseases. All are on the rise, and it is logical to look at recent changes in our food supply which coincide with this
Don't believe the story that these alterations are necessary to feed the hungry
world. Most of the GMO crops go to feed large animals which feed only the
wealthy populations in developed countries. In addition, the GMO
crops increase yield only for the first few years, but unfortunately by then, the farmer has become dependent on the special seeds and pesticides the
chemical company has sold her or him, and has no GMO-free seed to start a new
I am not one to volunteer my child for a dietary experiment that comes from a
chem lab. I advise sticking with the foods you grandmother would recognize or
that your great uncle could produce on his farm.
The federal government just passed legislation which was promoted by the
chemical companies to prevent individual states from responding to their
citizens by insisting on the labeling of GMOs. The law is touted as having
required that they be labeled, but it doesn't go into effect for a couple of
years, it has loopholes because only certain foods or ingredients must be
labeled, and the label is only a QR code. So if you really want to know, you must hold your mobile phone up to the label to check the QR code!
I will continue to buy only foods that say non-GMO certified, and
"organic," because so far the organic label is not supposed to have
any GMOs, although there are a few exceptions already.
Randy Rolfe's Take Home Tips: Avoid becoming dogmatic about your food, because the burden of extra stress can be as harmful as an occasional over-processed or chemicalized food. Only if you have developed a reaction to a certain kind of additive or GMO-related item do you need to be absolute about it, and even then you can build your digestion and immunity back up in most cases so that an occasional exposure won't hurt. Beware of wheat, which is not usually GNO but which is sprayed with Round-Up just before harvest because it makes harvesting easier. That herbicide is causing many issues with people's intestines and gut bacteria. So buy organic wheat products whenever possible. In the family and among friends, avoid giving lectures, judgments, or admonitions at meal time. Keep that time calm and happy to promote good digestion and good relationships. Instead, at a later time, share what you know as a caring aside, such as, "You know I just saw an interesting article today about ... Do you know about that?"
Randy Rolfe, JD, MA, is president of the Institute for Creative Solutions. Since 1985 she has helped tens of thousands of families lead richer and happier lives. Her books include: The Seven Secrets of Successful Parents; You Can Postpone Anything But Love; Adult Children Raising Children; The Four Temperaments; The Affirmations Book for Sharing (coauthored w/ husband Jay Rolfe); and 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life (coauthored w/ Mark Victor Hansen and others). Randy traveled in 29 countries before she was 21, which gave her a unique world-view that crosses all boundaries. Building or her rich experience as wife and mother, she also has been on the cutting edge in many fields, being one of the very first women to attend law school, one of the first women to practice law for a major Philadelphia law firm, a leader in the natural health movement, and a founder of the natural parenting movement. She has given seminars as far away as Moscow Russia and throughout the USA. A popular TV therapist on Geraldo, Sally, Montel, Maury and many more, Randy is dedicated to creating a better world through building happier healthier families. Find out more at www.randyrolfe.com.