"Franken Foods" aka Genetically Altered Foods...What's Your Opinion?

By MAYS Latest Reply 2012-07-02 21:33:06 -0500
Started 2012-06-27 22:06:15 -0500

It's big, colorful, and tasty, but do you know what you are really eating?

What is genetically altered food?

Approximately 50% of all the soy and 38% of the corn acreage planted in the US this year is genetically altered. In addition, much of the canola oil in the US market is from genetically altered plants.

Given the prevalence of these products in processed foods, unless you are eating all organically grown food chances are you're already consuming some of this food without knowing it.

It remains unlabeled and typically not segregated from non-altered food, so if you are consuming vegetarian products containing any of these ingredients not labeled as organically grown, it is more than likely that some of what you are eating is genetically altered.


There are two common forms of genetic alteration of foodcrops.

In the first, used frequently with soy, the plant is modified in order to be resistant to the Monsanto herbicide RoundupTM so that farmers can apply it to kill weeds without killing the young soy seedling.

In the second, often used with corn, the plant is modified to contain within its genetic structure a pesticide called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis).

We are told that these genetic modifications are made in order to reduce the amount of chemicals applied externally. Yet, in part because of the increasing resistance to these chemicals by pests, all indications so far are that these genetic modifications may in fact be leading to their increased use.

Contrary to its proponents' sweet-sounding words, genetic engineering is a form of plant breeding radically different from anything that humans have ever practiced in our history. All prior forms of plant breeding have relied on the plant's natural mechanisms of reproduction. Only related species can be bred together in this fashion. With genetic engineering, however, genes from one species are synthetically inserted into a different species with which it could never breed in nature.

Furthermore, traditional breeding always takes place on the species level, whereas genetic alteration is done at the level of the gene.

In order for this to happen, the natural species barriers of the recipient plant are deliberately overcome and broken down.

This process is typically affected by a virus that acts as a 'vector' to overcome the plant's normal protective mechanisms and insert the new genes into the recipient, and then as a 'promoter' in order to turn on the functionality of these new genes in the recipient plant.

This process is called 'gene expression.'

Health Risks:

By altering the genetic composition of the plant genome (the entirety of the genetic structure of an organism), this process introduces new proteins into the human and animal food chains.

This means that human beings are now consuming products that have never before been considered foodstuffs. There is concern that these new proteins could potentially cause toxic or allergic reactions, or other health effects.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to predict the allergenic potential of GA foods since allergic reactions typically occur only after the individual consuming the food is sensitized by initial exposure to the allergen.

There has already been at least one known health disaster regarding genetically altered products. In 1989 the Japanese company Showa Denko marketed a GA version of the supplement L-tryptophan. After the release an estimated 5000 people suffered from an outbreak of Eosinophilia Myalgia Syndrome (EMS). It was initially reported that 37 people died, and 1500 were left with permanent disabilities.

When gene engineers splice a foreign gene into a plant or microbe, they often link it to another gene, called an antibiotic resistance marker gene (ARM), that helps determine if the first gene was successfully spliced into the host organism.

Some researchers warn that these ARM genes might unexpectedly recombine with disease-causing bacteria or microbes in the environment or in the guts of animals or people who eat GE food, contributing to the growing public health danger of antibiotic resistance. Research from the Netherlands show that these antibiotic resistant marker genes from genetically altered bacteria can be transferred horizontally to indigenous bacteria in an artificial gut.

One of the rationales offered by the federal government for its approval of GA food is the claim that it is "substantially equivalent" to non-GA food. This conclusion, however, was reached with inadequate study, and recent research has called it into question.

A 1999 study by Dr. Marc Lappe found that concentrations of beneficial phytoestrogen compounds — thought to protect against heart disease and cancer-were 12-14% lower in genetically modified soybeans than in traditional strains. It is important for EarthSave members to consider the number of vegetarian soy products on the market and to understand therefore how severe the threat is to the health of our plant-based diet.

Earlier in 1999, prominent front-page headline stories in the British press trumpeted scientist Dr. Arpad Pusztai's explosive research findings that GA potatoes, spliced with DNA from the snowdrop plant and the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMv), a commonly used viral promoter, are poisonous to mammals. When fed to rats, these GA potatoes, found to be significantly different in chemical composition from regular potatoes, caused highly significant reduction in the weight of many organs, impairment of immunological responsiveness and signs suggestive of viral infection.

The biotech companies proclaim the benefits of the elements inserted via the genetic engineering process, such as herbicide resistance and insecticidal properties.

Unfortunately, nature doesn't work as simply as these scientists might wish, as we must consider not only what is added via the GA process, but to the process by which it is added. One of the most alarming parts of Dr. Pusztai's research was that damage to the rats' stomach linings - apparently a severe viral infection - most likely was caused by the CaMv viral promoter, used by nearly all GA foods and crops.


18 replies

re1ndeer 2012-06-29 05:34:56 -0500 Report

Why is it that organic foods are so expensive?, When naturally grown foods bought from famers markets are reasonable. And supermarkets, that sell generic foods are reasonably priced?

MAYS 2012-06-29 13:49:42 -0500 Report

Here is a reason why, (but not in my words)…

Why is organic food more expensive than conventional food?

Certified organic food.

Certified organic products are generally more expensive than their conventional counterparts (for which prices have been declining) for a number of reasons:

Organic food supply is limited as compared to demand;

Production costs for organic foods are typically higher because of greater labour inputs per unit of output and because greater diversity of enterprises means economies of scale cannot be achieved;

Post-harvest handling of relatively small quantities of organic foods results in higher costs because of the mandatory segregation of organic and conventional produce, especially for processing and transportation;

Marketing and the distribution chain for organic products is relatively inefficient and costs are higher because of relatively small volumes.

As demand for organic food and products is increasing, technological innovations and economies of scale should reduce costs of production, processing, distribution and marketing for organic produce.

Prices of organic foods include not only the cost of the food production itself, but also a range of other factors that are not captured in the price of conventional food, such as:

Environmental enhancement and protection (and avoidance of future expenses to mitigate pollution).

For example, higher prices of organic cash crops compensate for low financial returns of rotational periods which are necessary to build soil fertility;

Higher standards for animal welfare;

Avoidance of health risks to farmers due to inappropriate handling of pesticides (and avoidance of future medical expenses);

Rural development by generating additional farm employment and assuring a fair and sufficient income to producers.



re1ndeer 2012-06-29 14:06:06 -0500 Report

Thank you for explaining, and sharing the article. It has opened my eyes to what is going on in the world of food.

GabbyPA 2012-06-30 14:30:27 -0500 Report

And just from a home gardener's perspective. When you grow organic (and we do heirloom as well) there are a lot more hours put into tending the crop. Heirloom plants are sometimes less hearty and bugs or blights get them easier and when you don't use the franken pesticides to curb those critters, you do tend to loose more of the crop sometimes.

MAYS 2012-06-30 15:23:34 -0500 Report

That's interesting.
Is there much of a difference in the taste, or texture of your crop?
How about the "shelf life" how long before any of it goes bad?
Is there a major difference?

GabbyPA 2012-06-30 15:43:19 -0500 Report

Eating out of our garden is wonderful. Once you have home grown you don't go back. There is more flavor in each bite. My yellow pear tomatoes are like eating candy. I have a friend who doesn't like zucchini, and once he had his own home grown ones, he was hooked. He said he bought some in the store and they were so bad in comparison.

I keep my picked fruits like tomatoes and peppers on the counter (never in the frige unless a partially used one) They keep for over a week, but we rarely let them hang around. My green beans keep in the frige for over 2 weeks and broccoli can last a long time. Cabbage is able to keep in a cool place for months. And if you read my discussion on sweet potatoes, http://www.diabeticconnect.com/discussions/15690-have-you-had-your-potato-today they can last up to a year!

I did can a lot of them, that is what I really wanted to do this year. So if I am starting with really good tasting healthy food to can, it will taste better than the canned foods I buy.

Of course, this year we finally had a good crop of tomatoes after two years without and now I have to fight off the chickens. They love our tomatoes too.

I dehydrate a lot of my herbs and I did some mini peppers that way too. I have dehydrated tomatoes and made salsa with them. I don't always have all the ingredients from the garden, but I try to make it more than less and one day, I will have it closer to 90% and that will be fantastic.

GabbyPA 2012-07-02 21:28:51 -0500 Report

I don't sell it because I am not FDA approved. But I do give it away and trade it for other things. Otherwise it is my pantry.

MAYS 2012-06-30 16:24:56 -0500 Report

I am very glad to hear that.
I am considering purchasing a food dehydrator (this one) have always wanted one, but never got one, with so much free time on my hands it will help me find something else, new to do!


I have learned some pretty interesting tips from watching these videos:



I may have to pick up a new juicer while I am at it, if you have any suggestions on food dehydration, or if you ever decide to post a discussion or two on the subject I would really be interested in seeing it.


GabbyPA 2012-06-30 16:29:57 -0500 Report

Well, I just may have to do that. Maybe in the recipe section as well? I can post some pics of what it looks like dehydrated. Some things look kind of creepy. LOL
I just have a small no frills dehydrator. It has only one temperature setting and it rotates to keep it even. It works for me and is under $50. My kind of deal.

MAYS 2012-06-30 17:39:27 -0500 Report

Who, may I ask, is the manufacturer and the model number?
$50.00 and below can't be beat in this economy!
Seems like most of what is good for you looks a little creepy, and taste terrible!

GabbyPA 2012-07-02 21:33:06 -0500 Report

Ah, it might look creepy, but it tastes great. Dehydrated mushrooms, zucchini and summer squash are almost like chips. Natural salt of the veggie and crispy.

This is the one I have: http://www.amazon.com/Aroma-AFD-615-5-Tier-Rotating-Dehydrator/dp/B0002OKDWO/ref=sr_1_12?s=appliances&ie=UTF8&qid=1341282694&sr=1-12&keywords=food+dehydrator
I got it because it is the same as my old one that died. So now I have twice the trays and special inserts. I have been very happy with it.

GabbyPA 2012-06-28 18:45:42 -0500 Report

Watch Food Inc...that will open your eyes and make you cry. We are fast approaching the point of no return on the things we think we can do without consequences. We are so arrogant...it is very sad.

Controlled 2012-06-28 00:02:52 -0500 Report

This is Jurassic Park revisited. Food additives and preservatives (to prolong shelf life and consequently corporate profits) and this are disturbing. The obesity epidemic isn't merely because so many people overeat. It amazes me that the public is defaulted to laboratory experimentation. If an individual added or potentially contaminated food and served it to the public, he or she would be prosecuted.