Consumer Safety: The Debate between Organically Grown Foods and Genetically Altered Foods

By ERICA INNES

Inside the supermarket, a debate is happening. Consumers in recent years face the decision of whether to buy organic products or to stay with the “conventionally grown” products – which often means choosing between naturally grown foods and genetically modified foods. A big question on consumers’ minds, and usually the deciding factor, is whether the cost of organic foods is worth the price tag. But beyond price, there may be something more  important to consider.

The debate is usually split between the holistic and medical community. People who live a holistic lifestyle, like Eric Innes, a chiropractor and nutritionist with more than 30 years in the field, insists that organic foods are worth the money and effort.

On the other side are people like Sharon Moore, a nurse and hospital administrator with 40 years in the medical profession, who insists that the  Food and Drug Administration wouldn’t allow us to eat genetically modified foods if they were not safe.

“What consumers need to understand is that there is plenty of scientific proof to back up the claims that altering our food supply, whether it be genetically modified or genetically engineered foods, radiation or pesticides, is  detrimental to our health and the health of our children on down the line,” said Innes.

A  point made by Innes  is that genetically modified foods and pesticides have been scientifically proven to cause some of the worst epidemics our nation is currently facing, including asthma, diabetes, obesity, fertility problems and cancer.

Currently in the U.S., the FDA’s main focus is to institute strict codes that keep our food safe. Despite the fact that so-called GMO/GE foods, radiation and pesticides have been approved by the FDA, the holistic and medical community now debate whether these foods are truly safe.

“They are releasing these products without any long term safety studies on their health effects and once these products are introduced, they can’t be removed. However, early test results are showing that animals fed these products are developing organ problems, particularly liver, kidney, hormonal, immune system, and reproductive sterility,” said Innes.

Essentially there are four main companies that are responsible for the use and production of genetically modified or genetically engineered foods, plants, seeds and trees today. These are Monsanto, Bayer, Dupont and Syngenta.

Why Use Genetically Altered Foods?

But if claims of health problems are scientifically substantiated, why do companies continue to use them? Part of the reason, according to GMWatch, an independent nonprofit organization,is that genetically modified or genetically engineered crops sprayed with pesticides have always come with promises of increased yields for farmers. This, however, has rarely been the case and farmers are claiming  it simply isn’t true.

“What seems to be the motivation behind this is that once you use the GE/ GMO products, you must buy the seeds, pesticides and herbicides from the suppliers forever. They are patented. These products seem to be profit-driven, and are not taking into consideration the welfare of the people or the environment. Which is scary because it is a permanent game changer,” said Innes.

However the opinion of the medical community seems to be somewhat different.  Moore says that none of the research is, in her opinion, solid enough to make  claims of health problems caused by  genetically modified crops.

“We simply do not have enough information to base these claims on; the medical profession has always desired more concrete proof,” said Moore.

While  long term studies aren’t currently in abundance as GMO/GE products are still fairly new, supporters for dismissing the use of these products are not giving up without a fight. Innes himself rallies against it.

“I personally have joined with many anti GE/ GMO groups to petition our representatives to block the unbridled growth of this technology. The potential for disaster is huge, and caution has been thrown to the wind. These large companies are lobbying the politicians, and bureaucrats in our country to push legislation through that is favorable to furthering this unknown, untested technology. We, and future generations, are being used as the guinea pigs,” said Innes

But Moore disagrees.

“I simply don’t believe that the United States government would put consumers into harm’s way like that. There are good reasons we use GE and GMO foods as well as radiation. They made it quite well-known to the public years ago that there are far more benefits than drawbacks,” said Moore.

What Moore is referring to are the topics discussed on an FDA meeting in November 1999 in Washington, D.C., when the government was trying to solicit public opinion about the use of GE/GMO foods. The government said that some of the benefits actually include pest resistance, weed resistant crops, disease tolerance and cold tolerance.  As for the radiation of foods, it is primarily a way to kill off bacteria in foods.

“While these claims about the benefits may be true to some degree, they come with a hefty price tag. Not only the things I discussed earlier about GE and GMO foods and the dangers they pose, but the radiation of our foods is a way to cover up the poor sanitation in our slaughterhouses. Where is the accountability? The government needs to quit cutting corners and put us and our health freedoms at the forefront of this debate,” said Innes.

For more information about GMO/GE foods visit http://www.gmwatch.org

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