There’s a lot of talk these days about being prepared for all kinds of natural and man-made disasters. It is not uncommon to find classes, lectures, videos and books that teach eager “preppers” how to be wholly self-sufficient should our modern-day systems fail. After all, life without electricity and modern modes of transportation would change everything about the way we live. But whether or not you believe that some type of large-scale disaster will occur sometime in the future, there is a man-made disaster of epic proportions occurring right now.
These days, most people have heard GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms), but apparently not everyone understands exactly what these are or what they mean to the average person. Here is a concise definition of GMO’s from the World Health Organization:
“Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. The technology is often called “modern biotechnology” or “gene technology”, sometimes also “recombinant DNA technology” or “genetic engineering”. It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, also between non-related species. Such methods are used to create GM plants – which are then used to grow GM food crops.” 
I would add that some of those “unrelated genes” might belong to any kind of living organism, including plants, animals, insects, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even human genes.
Now, I don’t know what your spiritual beliefs are, but for me, I don’t believe that God intended rice and mice to splice! Of course, I certainly don’t intend to eat any mice in the near future, but I – and nearly half of the world’s population – rely on rice as a staple food source. But without a single law requiring GM foods to be labeled, how am I to truly know what’s on my plate?
The answer is: I don’t – and neither do you, because they don’t have to tell us!
Not knowing what is or isn’t included in the food that you eat is but a small part of the unfolding disaster called our “food system”.
Spirituality aside, there are very real concerns as to how genetically modified plants act upon the human body when consumed.
Until now, much of the ‘official’ research on how GMO’s act upon the living bodies of higher organisms – including humans – have been manipulated by vested interests to show little, if any cause for alarm. Yet, throughout the last decade independent studies of GM foods have turned up frightening results.
Long before the FDA decided to allow GMOs into the American food supply without labeling, their own scientists repeatedly warned that GM foods might create unpredictable and hard-to-detect side effects, such as increasing food allergies, a build up of toxins, new diseases, nutritional problems and serious digestive disorders.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine reported
“…several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.” The AAEM was so disturbed by the studies that they took an important and historically significant stand by asking physicians to advise their patients to avoid GM foods. 
It is quite apparent that there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. Increasingly, GMF’s are being blamed for sudden increases in incidences of Autism and Alzheimer’s disease in areas where they have recently been introduced into the food system.
Even as long-term safety studies of GMO crops were called for by the FDA, reports of their detrimental impacts were flooding in.
In September (2012) a two-year, peer-reviewed study on the effects of feeding Monsanto’s NK603 GMO (Roundup Ready) corn to rats and exposing them to exceedingly low levels of Roundup herbicide was published by researches at Caen University in France. Their findings found seriously alarming results that indicate the dangers of GM food, feed and the associated herbicides, around which these crops have been designed (i,.e. Roundup/Glyphosate (N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine) 
The study was based on the same exact protocols Monsanto used to prove that their corn was safe for consumption in 2004 – only the scientists in the Caen study increased the length of the research period from Monsanto’s paltry 90-day study to a more revealing 2-year study.
The scientists at Caen also wanted more documentation as to the effects of their study, so they not only increased the number of animals tested – this is the largest animal study of its kind – but also increased the frequency of testing and the number of factors that would be tested for.
According to the study, the researchers tested for “3 doses (rather than two in the usual 90 day long protocols) of the Roundup-tolerant NK603 GMO maize alone, the GMO maize treated with Roundup, and Roundup alone at very low environmentally relevant doses starting below the range of levels permitted by regulatory authorities in drinking water and in GM feed.”
What they found was nothing short of horrific.
It took only 4 months to begin seeing the negative physical effects – a mere 8 weeks more than the Monsanto-led study! The Caen study rats developed 400 times the number of large tumors and died 2-3 times more often – and faster – than the control group . Increased mammary tumors, affected pituitary glands and congestion and necrosis of the liver.
Researches also found that exceedingly low doses of Roundup disrupted estrogen and androgen receptors in cells and acted as a sexual endocrine disruptor in live animals.
According to the study, “By the beginning of the 24th month, 50–80% of female animals had developed tumors in all treated groups, with up to 3 tumors per animal, whereas only 30% of controls [non-GMO-fed] were affected. The Roundup treatment groups showed the greatest rates of tumor incidence with 80% of animals affected with up to 3 tumors for one female, in each group.”
Read that again, slowly and imagine that we humans are the rats…
And if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, you really want to read Shocking! Toxic GMO Compounds Found in Nearly 100% of Pregnant Women and Their Fetuses”, which is a report on the study entitled: Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods…published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology.
If GMO foods so readily kill and maim mammals like rats and infect human fetuses in vitro, what else might they be doing to us?
While quality un-biased research into the effects of GMO’s on humans continues, we don’t have to wait another moment to know that GMO’s are contaminating non-GMO crops via the pollination process.
That’s right. GM plants can and do cross-pollinate non-GMO crops – including those grown in your garden and any related species growing in the wild. I discuss this at length in my book, The Garden Seed Saving Guide.
A year ago, I could have said to you that only certified organic foods do not contain genetically modified organisms – but because GM plants tend to have an increased ability to cross-pollinate with their non-GM counterparts, all non-GM plants are in danger. This includes natural hybrids (which are simply a cross of two varieties of a similar species), heirloom and open-pollinated vegetables in your garden, as well as seed, grain, cereal and fruit crops being grown in commercial fields.
There is absolutely no way to stop the contamination of GMO’s into our food system and there is no way to reverse the contamination once it has occurred.
Couple this disaster with the fact that companies like Monsanto are buying up as many seed companies as they can in order to gain control of yet more genetic material for their Franken Food experiments and we have a present day, worldwide disaster of epic proportions on our hands. Worse yet: our government is doing absolutely nothing to protect us.
Even if you have a moral opposition to GMO’s, you are probably eating them right now.
There are no laws that require GMO foods to be labeled or identified in any way.
Even organic foods are being infected with the modified DNA of GMO’s.
There is no way to reverse GMO contamination in food crops that are already infected.
Once a non-GMO plant is infected with the patented DNA of a GMO, it is essentially illegal to grow it or save its seed without obtaining legal permission from the patent owner first. This might include signing a contract, paying fees and paying for the seed.
So what can you do?
Start by saving your own open-pollinated seed. This demonstrates our legal right to the cultural use of common food crops and goes a long way to ensure that you are eating non-GMO foods.
Demand that corporations not have the right to patent living organisms.
Boycott all products and businesses that buy, use or grow GMO crops, including seed companies owned by manufacturers of GMO’s.
Demand legislation for the labeling of all foods that are or contain GMO’s.
Work towards ending new introductions of GMO’s into the environment.
Vote out of office any public official who supports GMO engineering of food crops.
Taking control of our local food system, demanding labeling of food and learning how to save pure open-pollinated seed is our first, but hopefully not our last, line of defense against this modern-day disaster.
© 2013 Jill Henderson
Jill Henderson is an artist, author, and the editor of Show Me Oz . Her books, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs, The Garden Seed Saving Guide and A Journey of Seasons can be found in the Show Me Oz Bookstore. Jill’s work has also appeared in The Permaculture Activist, The Essential Herbal, Acres USA, and Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac.