Would You Eat My Science Project?

I read some news today that made me reminisce back to high school. I once created a genetic mutation of the fungus, Aspergillus niger by altering its nutrient environment and subjecting it to intense ultraviolet radiation.

As I remember it, the judges at the science fair were both impressed and shocked. They didn’t seem to know that you could create, document and procreate mutations in your own attic with equipment from a mail-order catalogue. I wonder how shocked they’d have been if I opened up the Petri dishes, took out spoons, and asked them to eat the black gooey mutants.


But neither the manufacturer nor the USDA informs you that there is genetically altered material in the food you are eating.

Did Anyone Ask You if You Want to Eat GM Foods?

When I first read about this in 1996, biotech companies planted genetically modified (GM) crops on 4.3 million acres in six countries. In 2005, agricultural giants planted them on 222 million acres in 21 countries.(1)

Recent experiments show that public health may be threatened. For example, in Australia, researchers modified peas to resist the damage caused by the pea weevil.

To arm the peas against attack, the scientists injected it with the gene for a protein capable of killing the pest. But when the protein appeared in the GM pea, it was slightly altered.

To test their new product, they exposed mice to this altered protein. Some mice developed a hypersensitive skin response and some had airway inflammation and lung damage.(2)

A recent report by the USDA’s Office of Inspector General found that GM regulators routinely broke their own rules, failed to inspect planting sites and never bothered to make sure that engineered crops were destroyed when field trials were finished.(3)

In many cases, they granted permits for open crop testing, without even knowing the location of the test fields.

Get the Facts before You Buy

You should be able to decide whether you want to buy and eat genetically modified foods. Currently, there is no requirement in the U.S. for food manufacturers to label GM foods as such. We are all currently eating them, like it or not. Here are things you can do to regain some choice in the matter.

* Stop Eating Processed Foods: This is the most common place to find GM ingredients. Processed foods often rely on GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) for production. High Fructose Corn Syrup, for example, has enzymes that are genetically modified to perform a certain job. Without GMO’s, the corn syrup you find in hundreds of popular drinks would not be possible.

* Read Labels: The most popular GM crops are soy and corn. If you see a label with corn flour, cornmeal, dextrin, starch, soy sauce or margarine, it’s likely that GM corn or soy crops were used.

* Look for and Buy Foods Marked “non-GMO:” Although there is no requirement, some manufacturers of products that do not contain genetically modified ingredients are now labeling them as “non-GMO.”

* Search for GM Foods on the Internet: You can find a comprehensive list of non-GMO and GMO foods at www.truefoodnow.org.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD