By Catherine Haug, Oct 5, 2016 (image, right, from Organic Consumers Association, used with permission)
With GMOs, it only gets worse by the day.
- First, Congress passes a sham GMO labeling law that becomes law; see my article from July 30: Pres. Obama signed the Dark Act (faulty GMO-labeling law). It allows QR codes or 800 numbers to substitute for words on the label that would indicate the product contains GMOs. See my December 2015 post, QR code’ to label GMO foods? for more.
- Then there’s a new version of GMOs (1) that will likely not be covered by the new law (i.e., they won’t require labeling) because the don’t insert genes from another species but rather manipulate the native gene, such as by turning the gene off. Examples of this new GMO: GMO apples and potatoes that won’t turn brown when you cut them. Because the genetic modification suppresses the gene for a key immune-system enzyme, it increases the chance the apple can be infected with bacterial or fungal disease, which in turn can result in toxicity issues when the apple is consumed.See my post GMO Apples for more.
- And now, new evidence that GMOs have spread around the world and can even cross-pollinate with non-GMO plants to produce 100% GMO seeds – even with Organic crops, so that we can no longer trust the Organic label. That is, Organic seeds are GMO-contaminated and will produce GMO plants even if they are grown Organically. Franken-Broccoli is a perfect example (2, 4).
Yes, you read that right. It’s downright scary. What can you do? For starters, you can take action on the last issue by signing a petition telling the USDA to stop ignoring GM cross-contamination (3). And you can hope/pray that a test is developed to determine if a seed contains GMO genes. Read on for more about Franken-broccoli.
Franken-broccoli and other crops
Basically, the problem is that as GMO crops such as canola spread around the world, they cross-pollinate with other veggies in the same family (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, etc). The scariest part: while natural genes from each parent have a 50/50 chance of passing on their version to the offspring, genetically modified genes are ALWAYS passed on to the offspring.
- A non-GMO canola and non-GMO broccoli cross pollinate; each resulting seed will have roughly 50% of its genes from each parent.
- But if a GMO canola and non-GMO broccoli cross-pollinate, each resulting seed will have 50% of the non-genetically engineered genes but it keeps all the GM mutations of the GMO parent (4).
In other words, when there is cross pollination between GMO and non-GMO plants, the result will always be GMO – all the GM mutations will be present in the child.
Plus the GMO and non-GMO plants need not be close together for this to happen. There can be thousands of miles between them because crops are transported from farm to processing plant, passing Organic farms – or your own garden – along the way.
Growing a crop with organic methods does not protect the plant from the problem. However, if all the seeds to be sold as Organic could be tested to determine presence of genetic manipulation, that could protect the buyer from unwittingly growing a GMO crop. We can only wish; so far, such testing is not available.
- Food Revolution: What You Need to Know About GMOs 2.0 and the Future of Our Food (foodrevolution.org/blog/food-and-health/gmos-2-0-and-the-future-of-food)
- Alliance for Natural Health: Frankenbroccoli for Dinner (anh-usa.org/frankenbroccoli-for-dinner)
- Alliance for Natural Health petition to the USDA: anh-usa.org/action-alert-stop-gm-contamination-of-organics
- BioOne: Weed Science (.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1614/WS-07-097.1)