When you’re vegan, you get comfortable reading labels really quickly. Often times, I go by the “if I can’t pronounce it” or “If I can’t picture what it looks like when I read the word” or “If it sounds friggin’ fake” I avoid the product completely. But I’m happy for the labels. Without them, there would be no way of my knowing what was in any sort of processed food. But what about the foods that are right in the produce section? The ones that are supposed to be good for me? Having studied various social trends and behaviors in college (and being a bit of a conspiracy junky myself) I’m quick to believe that we are all a part of some grand experiment; we are all guinea pigs (and I’m against animal testing!) But recently, I’m seeing one of the most interesting experiments unfold without most of us knowing what’s going on at all. Foods that are genetically modified (and have been for about 20 years) to be resistant to pesticides are everywhere. But they must be safe right? Our government wouldn’t put us in danger for some hidden agenda or to make a buck- right? Right?
GMOs (or Genetically Modified Organisms) have received some recent media attention due to a French study conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini, a microbiology professor at the University of Caen. The result, a big push because of an upcoming vote in California (in November) on Proposition 37 (or the self named “Right to Know Campaign”) which is a mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food initiative. All the fuss is about a rat study in which 200 rats were fed genetically modified (Roundup resistant) corn over the course of two years. The results were interesting to say the very least (read the complete study here):
“In females, all treated groups died 2–3 times more than controls, and more rapidly. This difference was visible in 3 male groups fed GMOs. All results were hormone and sex dependent, and the pathological profiles were comparable. Females developed large mammary tumors almost always more often than and before controls, the pituitary was the second most disabled organ; the sex hormonal balance was modified by GMO and Roundup treatments. In treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5–5.5 times higher. This pathology was confirmed by optic and transmission electron microscopy. Marked and severe kidney nephropathies were also generally 1.3–2.3 greater. Males presented 4 times more large palpable tumors than controls which occurred up to 600 days earlier. Biochemistry data confirmed very significant kidney chronic deficiencies; for all treatments and both sexes, 76% of the altered parameters
were kidney related. These results can be explained by the non linear endocrine disrupting effects of Roundup, but also by the overexpression of the transgene in the GMO and its metabolic consequences.”
An article by Carolyn Lochhead in the San Francisco Chronicle, Prop. 37: Engineered corn study debated, notes the opposition pointing to flaws in the study.
“Other scientists said the breed of rats used is prone to tumors, the control groups were far too small and the statistical analysis was flawed, among other problems.”
The study was not without strong opposition for various reasons to put it lightly. I’m not here to tell you what conclusions you should draw from this study. I’m not here to tell you to look for a little label and try to buy non-GMO foods when possible (and no I’m not currently on a grassroots campaign promoting an agenda). I only wanted to bring up the point that sometimes you don’t know what you’re eating, even if it’s a whole food or green or not in a jar. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re eating even if you are reading labels. National Georgraphic notes that
“Most people in the United States don’t realize that they’ve been eating genetically engineered foods since the mid-1990s. More than 60 percent of all processed foods on U.S. supermarket shelves—including pizza, chips, cookies, ice cream, salad dressing, corn syrup, and baking powder—contain ingredients from engineered soybeans, corn, or canola.”
At the very least, it’s interesting to think about. And it kinda makes you wonder, if GMOs are perfectly safe like the people that are bashing Seralini’s experiment are claiming, then why get so defensive about it? Are they really concerned with a raise in food costs that will come with this new labeling or is it something more? I encourage everyone to learn more about Proposition 37 and decide for yourselves if you’re comfortable being an experiment of if you would like to be an informed citizen of this country.
You May Want To Check Out: The Non-GMO Project for some interesting information.