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Education, Sustainability
Big thank you to GMO Free New Jersey for leading our GMO-101 class in Shrewsbury! Here are some key takeaways from their amazing presentation:  1. What are GMOs?A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of taking genes from one species such as bacteria, virus, plant, animal or human and inserting them into the DNA of another (a food crop or animal) in an attempt to introduce a new trait or characteristic. Genetic engineering is a radical new technology that forces genetic information across the protective species barrier in an unnatural way. 2. How is it done?The technology is very crude; it is not possible to insert genes into DNA with any accuracy.  Four techniques used are:
  • Use viruses or bacteria to “infect” the animal or plant cell with the new DNA.
  • Coating DNA onto tiny metal pellets and firing them with a special gene gun.
  • Injecting new DNA into fertilized eggs with a very fine needle.
  • Using electric shocks to create holes in sperm membrane, then forcing new DNA through the holes.
​​3. Which crops are GMO?Soy, corn, cottonseed, canola, most Hawaiian papaya, some zucchini, and some yellow crookneck squash, sugar beets, and alfalfa.  4. That should be easy to avoid, is that all?A majority of vegetable oils on the market today are made up of some combination of soy, corn, cottonseed, and canola. Many processed foods contain soy and/or corn derivatives such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), cornstarch, soy protein, soy lecithin. Most meat, eggs and dairy products come from animals that have been fed GMO derived feed. Some dairy farmers inject their cows with rbGH, a genetically engineered recombinant growth hormone (also called rbST). In North America most hard cheeses are made with GMO derived rennet. Also, there are many food additives and vitamins which are produced from GMO sources including the artificial sweetener aspartame (Nutrasweet®, Equal®, Spoonful, and others). 5. Why avoid GMOs?Regarding GMO dangers: these are scientifically well documented. Refer to Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey M. Smith–a great start and an extremely interesting read. See alsoresponsibletechnology.org which summarizes 65 health risks from Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine reported that health risks could include infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, changes in major organs and GI system (indicated by animal studies). Overall HealthThe only published feeding study involving humans revealed that the genetic material transferred into GMO soy transfers into bacteria living inside the intestines and continues to function leading to the possibility of antibiotic resistant super diseases and intestinal flora being turned into living pesticide factories. AllergiesAllergies–especially soy allergies–skyrocketed (50%) in the UK after GMO soy was introduced. Cooked GM soy contains as much as 7 times more of a known soy allergen.There are three possibilities as to what may be causing this:
  1. The level of a naturally occurring allergen could be increased
  2. A gene taken from one food might transfer allergenic properties
  3. Unknown allergens may result from foreign genes and proteins never before part of the human food supply
Children’s young, quickly developing bodies absorb proportionally more from all their food sources and are more susceptible to allergies, problems with milk, nutritional problems, and are in danger from antibiotic resistant diseases. Toxic Chemicals, Super Weeds, and Super PestsMany GMO crops are designed to withstand an otherwise lethal dose of herbicides and pesticides leading to several serious repercussions.
  • A much greater concentration of these toxic chemicals can be found in our food supply.
  • Herbicide resistant weeds may be lethal to beneficial insects, such as pollinators.
  • The chemical-filled run-off leeches into the watershed, which provides home to aquatic wildlife and supplies our drinking water.
  • We have already seen the emergence of new “super pests” which are able to dine with gusto on GM pesticide producing corn and survive to go on to the next meal.
  • Cross pollination–wind carries pollen from GMO crops and infects non-GMO crops.
Even though GMO crops appear to us to be indistinguishable from naturally cultivated crops all across North America, it has been reported that cows, pigs, geese, elk, deer, squirrels, raccoons, mice, and rats, when given a choice avoid GM foods. 6. How to Avoid GMOs - You Have A Choice!  
  • Buy products that are labeled “100% certified organic.
  • Look for the “Non-GMO Project” seal. The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization and offers North America’s only third party verification and labeling for non-GMO food and products. This organization works at every level of the supply chain, all the way back to the seeds.
  • Become familiar with the major GMO crops and avoid them unless they are certified organic or Non-GMO Project verified.  These crops are corn, cotton, canola, soy, alfalfa, sugar beets, some Hawaiian papaya, zucchini, and yellow squash.
  • If you purchase dairy products make sure that they are either certified organic or labeled to be from animals that have not been treated with rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone).  RBGH is a genetically modified growth hormone that some dairies inject into their cows in order to increase milk production.  While the practice does increase milk yields it also causes mastitis in the cows which requires the use of antibiotics which end up in the milk.  The dairies that don’t use rBGH are permitted to declare it on their labels but be aware that the cows may still have been raised on GMO feed.
  • If you consume processed or packaged food be aware that most processed and packaged food (unless certified organic or Non-GMO Project verified) contains GMO ingredients.
  • Go to NonGMOShoppingGuide.com and download or order their shopping guide. In addition to listing hundreds of products that are GMO free this is an excellent self education tool.  It will help you learn how to identify products that contain hidden GMO ingredients like some vitamins, food additives, enzymes, flavorings, processing agents, and rennet in hard cheeses. You can also order extra copies; keep a few on hand to share with friends.
  • Grow your own! You’ll know for sure where your food comes from.  If you don’t have space in your yard to dig in a little garden, you may find that there is a community garden not far from your front door.  You will experience the wonder and joy of tending the plant from tiny seed to fruit and it doesn’t get any fresher than that! Dean's provides GMO free organic seeds in the spring & summer.  Click here to contact the Organic Seed Alliance for a list of companies that provide GMO-free seeds.
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