Chia Seeds ... Who knew?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

From Cream to Scream
By Julie Daniluk

Lynda: Why are so many people confused about GMOs, and the difference between them and hybrids?
Julie: People are told that GMO's are equivalent to hybrids when in fact the technology carries potential hazards. We need to think of whole systems instead of individual products on the market. 
My great concern about GMOs is when people said, "Oh, we just moved a gene from one plant into another plant."  
But when you insert a gene, you actually change the code that makes up these plants. 
Think of it like spelling. If you take the word "cream" and insert the letter "s" at the beginning, all of a sudden it becomes "scream". The two words have entirely different meanings.
Genetic codes are like the alphabet. We have all these chromosomes and the codes tell them how to express themselves.
Sticking in extra genetic material changes the plant on a fundamental level. The entire protein changes, and so does the way that plant reacts in your body.
Lynda: What results have shown up so far from genetically modified foods?
3 Growing Concerns about GMOs
Julie: My three biggest concerns are allergies caused by changing the protein of the GMO, antibiotic resistance, viruses that leave the plant vulnerable to molds and fungal infections, and pesticide resistance.
1. Allergies: There is a real concern that genetically modified plants have a  higher potential of causing allergies because the protein itself has been fundamentally changed. New proteins can be flagged by our immune system as unsafe and an inflammatory response is launched as an attempt to protect your body from a foreign invader.
And we're wondering why we have allergies like never before. We have people with compromised immune systems, with brand new auto-immune diseases, and a record number of people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. One in five people now suffer from severe gut problems, and we wonder why! 
2. The use of Antibiotics: If you hybridize a plant, you are simply crossing 2 varieties of the same species to create a unique new trait. 
With GMO creation, the insertion of the genes are done forcibly. For scientists to ensure the experiment worked, they insert an antibiotic resistant marker gene into the gene package. They then bathe the cells of that plant in a bath of antibiotics. If the plant survived, they know that the gene package was inserted correctly. 
But we forget that this plant now carries antibiotic resistance that may transfer to our human gut! My concern is that the government is not insisting that the cost of long term mammal testing fall on the GMO seed company, and should be carried out by a 3rd party that has no financial gain in the results.
3. Mold and viruses: The third great concern is they're using viruses to create genetic modification because viruses by nature, force their own DNA into a host.  
Scientists pry open the gene package using a virus and inserting extra material. As a result GMO crops have a weakened immune system.
It's been shown that genetically modified plants are higher in mold and have a much higher propensity of fungal infection.
That makes sense to me because if there's been a virus attack, the plant's immune system is left vulnerable. The plant is more likely to have a bacterial or fungal infection because its immune system is knocked down. In the case of GMO corn, we're gene splicing in bacteria that can harm the gut lining. 
4. Pesticide resistance
GMOs are also resistant to a dreadful pesticide which has been shown to have many negative health effects.
These plants are resistant to organophosphate pesticides, so farmers now spray much higher amounts than in the past because it no longer kills their crop.
The rest of the field may be decimated but the actual plant remains.
Instead of reducing pesticide use, it's dramatically increased the amount of pesticides in the food we consume.  Organophosphate pesticides have been proven to increase ADHD, Cancer and Parkinson's disease.
Lynda: Now that we know more about the health concerns, how can we protect ourselves and our families?
Julie: I truly avoid genetically modified food.  People think that the genie is out of the bottle. It's not - yet!
Not all our foods are genetically modified. In Canada, four major crops are genetically modified: corn, canola, soy and sugar beet.
In the US, papaya can be genetically modified. The US also has a massive cotton industry, and cotton seeds are genetically modified. And you have large test plots of rice, from which some rice has escaped, so it's a good idea to buy non-GMO rice.
Lynda: What else can we do to avoid GMOs?
Julie: You're not being force-fed this stuff. You just have to avoid certain plants.  In Canada, the only item on the produce shelf today that's genetically modified is sweet corn. The Arctic apple is soon to follow, but presently we're only dealing with corn in the produce aisle. 
Outside the produce aisle, it gets dodgy. That's why I choose to make as much of my own food as possible. I avoid processed and packaged foods which generally contain canola oil, and soybeans and corn products that have been processed into derivatives.
I do not consume genetically modified taco shells, corn flakes and any sort of taco shells, or any of those corn products.  I just don't eat them.  And I also choose not to eat soybeans that are genetically modified.  I won't put soy past my lips unless I know for a fact that it is completely organic, which means it's not genetically modified.
Lynda: What labels should people look for on packaged foods?
Julie: Look for "Non-GMO verified" products because they've got certifications.  The verification is done by a third party, from field to table. They test it all away along the tracks so there's no contamination. 
My favorite website for up to date information on GMO's is

The person who runs the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network is Lucy Sharratt and she has been with her finger on the pulse of this critical issue for over 16 years.
Check out the Non-GMO project website, which is very helpful. 
They've developed a shopping guide to help people avoid genetic modification and they really keep up to date on GMOs that are being released.   
Also remember that anything that is certified organic cannot be genetically modified.