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Science fiction has long been captivated with the romance of genetic engineering, but so many of these stories end with the humbling triumph of nature over technology. In reality, an eerily similar narrative seems to be playing out in the agricultural biotech industry today.
Over the past 20 years, Big Ag bioengineers have been tinkering with DNA, the fundamental code of existence. Will this chapter of human history conclude in the same way? With the limited information we have about GMOs, it’s hard to say. But many signs point to the fact that indeed, nature will again outsmart science.
Fortunately, there are simple solutions to help protect you and your family from any potential GMO dangers that are now coming to light.
What is a GMO?
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant or animal which has had its DNA altered though genetic engineering. Most often, genes are inserted from other organisms to “improve” the GMO: make it grow faster or bigger, produce its own pesticides or become more resistant to drought.
At present, we would be hard-pressed to avoid GMOs, since around 70% of the food in most grocery stores has some bioengineered ingredients.
Perhaps most disturbing is the way these modified foods have been rolled out: very quietly. The public has had little say on whether this is a good idea. In fact, even now it’s difficult to get complete information. In November, California’s Proposition 37, which would have simply required GMO products be labeled, was crushed by an avalanche of industry money. Big Ag probably anticipated that consumers would feel uneasy with the knowledge of mouse genes inserted into their strawberries, or some other GMO atrocity.
They’re probably right.
Boon or Danger?
The agriculture industry points to how successful GMO corn, soybeans, cotton and other crops have been, increasing yields and resisting pests. However, they never talk about the research that calls these crops into question. Scientists around the world, including those at the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, have raised concerns. Animal studies have linked GMO foods to reduced fertility, lowered immunity, organ damage, accelerated aging and other ill effects. There may also be a link between the growth of GMO food consumption and a dramatic increase in allergies, especially soy allergies.
In addition, on a sustainability level, GMO crops tend to destroy diversity. While nature evolved many types of wheat and soy beans, the GMO manufacturers have whittled them down to just a handful of altered organisms with little concern for their larger ecological impact. What’s worse, some of these varieties are escaping the farm and contaminating local environments.
Recently, the FDA reported that a genetically modified salmon poses no environmental health threat. The fish is designed to grow faster, making it ideal for aquaculture. An earlier assessment by the FDA also found the GMO salmon is safe to eat. With these reports, it’s only a matter of time before “Franken-Fish” receives approval, adding farmed salmon to the GMO petri dish.
What to Do
Industry has taken a “no harm no foul” approach: since no danger has been proven, these foods are considered completely safe. In reality, this may only mean there hasn’t been enough research to determine whether these foods are safe over the long term. We simply don’t have enough data.
Regardless, it’s an open question whether the federal government is doing enough to safeguard our food supply. In the short term, GMO foods will continue to become more widespread. However, we can all manage the potential risks of GMOs — risks highlighted by published independent research — by making a few simple, smart choices.
1. Go organic.
First, choose organic when possible. This is not a perfect solution, as GMO pollen has been known to contaminate other crops. Still, there’s no doubt organic foods would dramatically reduce exposure, and fortunately they have also become more widespread through farmers’ markets, specialized grocery stores and community supported agriculture.
2. Support your digestive system.
Some research has shown that GMO food can have a negative effect on digestion by altering the digestive lining and reducing enzymes. So it’s important to support the digestive tract. Probiotic and prebiotic supplements are essential because they populate the intestines with good bacteria which research now shows play a very significant role in overall health. Other important digestive supporting ingredients are the minerals zinc and chromium; digestive enzymes, like amylase, protease and lipase; and the herbs cinnamon, cardamom and ginger, among others.
3. Give yourself immune support.
GMOs have been linked to increased food allergies. To combat allergies and regulate the immune system, I recommend medicinal mushrooms. These botanicals have a fine-tuning effect on the immune system. In other words, they don’t boost immunity as much as train, regulate and optimize it.
Since allergies are often the result of biological overreaction, mushrooms are an ideal supplement to turn the immune volume down. High quality medicinal mushroom supplements are often made with the potent underground part of the mushroom called the mycelium. This part of the fungus is generally non-allergenic, as opposed to the more allergy inducing, upper fruiting body of the mushroom that most people are familiar with. Species such as Reishi, Maitake, Coriolus, Cordyceps and others are excellent overall health aids and support numerous areas of wellness.
4. Get DNA protection.
Another concern with GMOs is possible DNA mutation leading to issues such as cancer. Independent studies showed that rats fed a GMO diet developed large tumors. Whether or not this translates to similar effects in humans, we don’t yet know. To prevent cellular and DNA damage from environmental assaults including GMOs, I recommend specific natural therapies that protect against abnormal cellular formation while supporting overall health and wellness. At the top of this list are two well researched ingredients: honokiol, a powerful anti-cancer and antioxidant extract derived from magnolia bark; and Modified Citrus Pectin, which blocks cancer growth and metastasis, reduces inflammation, supports immunity and safely detoxifies heavy metals and environmental toxins.
Are GMOs safe? Unfortunately, we may not know the real answer for years to come. Fortunately, we have the resources to look after our own health, now. By making mindful choices and staying current on this important issue, we can mitigate the possible risks and take care of ourselves and our families for the long run.