Genetically modified food (GMs) are what happens when scientists manipulate cells or even nuclei by inserting genes or viruses to change the DNA. Before GMs farmers would hybridize plants by breeding for preferred character traits. GMs may or may not cause damage to human DNA, but it’s use has escalated the use of pesticides, herbicides and animal cruelty. Since Monsanto, the makers of the herbicide Roundup(tm) are also the leaders in GM food, it seems that they are lining their own pockets by selling products for both cause and effect. If eating GM food is something you’d rather not do, I have just come across a useful article that might help. In the April/May, 2011 Vegetarian Times, there is an article by Neal D. Barnard, MD on the subject. In the article he reveals that manufacturers in the U.S and Canada aren’t required to label GM food. However he says that most US-grown corn, soy, cotton, Hawaiian papaya and canola is GM, but most other fresh fruit or vegetables aren’t, such as apples, oranges, bananas, broccoli. (These, however, are often heavily sprayed with pesticides and need to be washed before eating. The Environmental Working Group http://www.ewg.org/ updates a Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list of produce that is effected most or least by pesticides; you can see that list here: http://www.healthyreader.com/2008/05/13/12-most-contaminated-fruits-and-vegetables/ .)
Dr. Barnard goes on to give these interesting tidbits: The labels on fresh produce carry a four-digit standardized code for cashiers to look up the price of the item, called a PLU (price look-up). If the code is preceded by an 8, it is genetically modified. If preceded by a 9, it is organic, and organics cannot be genetically modified. So watch your tofu packages if you don’t want GM soybeans.
Since becoming a vegetarian some sixteen years ago, I’ve been a label reader (even now when it requires pulling out my glasses or holding a can at arm’s length!). The amount of sodium in foods is outrageous, as is the amount of sweetners such as corn syrup. High amounts of salt and sugar is in there not for taste, but for its addictive qualities. When you eat salt or sugar, just like drinking caffeine, you crave more. As a vegetarian, it’s amazing what meat products are slid into foods, even those toted to be vegetarian. Now there is a more dangerous enemy than bad nutrition in packaged food. In my opinion, it is that of GM food and heavy herbicide and pesticide use. Even more reason to shop locally and organically, or to grow as much food as you can, and read all the labels. I am an ethical vegetarian, meaning that I decline to eat animals because I am protesting their horrible treatment and slaughter. GM animals are bred to continuously give milk, to grow enormous, to provide more of what humans eat off of them, despite the physical agony it brings. That coupled with already nightmarish living conditions is a monsterous state of affairs. Then humans injest the modified DNA, the herbicides that the animals eat that was sprayed on their food, and the pesticides that was sprayed directly on the animals. It is not a practice of which I will be a part.
Okay, I’m stepping off my soapbox now. As promised, I have a curious, unrelated photo. I have to balance reality with humor to keep sane This was taken by my daughter as we left the area on our recent Oregon sojourn, and we ask ourselves, “Huh?” A really big blowhorn faced the wrong way? A jet engine, faced the wrong way? A hood ornament…. faced the wrong way? Something unusual that fell out from under the car? A neutron accelerator? I love the care of placing a skid under the thing to protect the hood, but cinching the straps so tightly it dents the sides! Another funny incongruency in life, which keeps that humor in living. Any suggestions as to what? Or better yet, why?