Posts tagged ‘Genetic engineering’

GM Fish under FDA review

The FDA has yet to reach a decision about its approval of genetically modified salmon for public consumption, but things are not looking good for concerned American consumers.

The review panel of “experts” does not consist of food safety experts, and includes people who could be biased towards approving AquaAdvantage’s fish – including individuals who have themselves developed genetically modified animals, and one person who used to work for Monsanto.
It also seems that because of procedural technicalities (which seem hollow, and point more directly to the financial bottom line) it is unlikely that any labeling would be required to alert consumers as to the nature of this, or any other GM product, because the companies that produce these products (and it seems the FDA too) are concerned that people would not want to buy food that they knew to be genetically modified.  Which, lets face it, would likely be the case.  So instead it seems likely that they will make it policy to keep American consumers in the dark, and force them to buy products that they overwhelmingly do not want to buy, and that this technology will be approved, potential dangers to health and environment, and all.  Bastards.

Here are some other reasons that this strikes me as a bad idea:

GMO Salmon under reveiw by FDA

This week the FDA is holding public meetings regarding their review of genetically engineered salmon.  If approved for consumption this would be the first genetically engineered animal product to be introduced into our national food chain.  GMO’s are already in use in plant material, and currently there are no labeling requirements in the U.S. to allow consumers to tell which food products contain them.  If approved these genetically altered salmon would open the door to the other GMO meat products waiting in the wings, including EnviroPig, and a cow designed to resist Mad Cow disease.

It’s no secret that GMO’s are controversial, and there have already been problems and issues related to the altered plant products, including the uncontrollable spread of GMO crops and potential health threats.

GMO’s fall under the category of drugs according to FDA review guidelines and so this fish and any other GMO product seeking approval are reviewed by a panel of experts who normally review veterinary pharmaceuticals – not food safety issues.

All of this makes me very nervous.  I have my doubts about the rigour and accuracy of the FDA’s safety review processes, and I also am suspicious of the amount of influence that Big Food might have on their decision-making (I know it sounds paranoid, but that doesn’t really matter if it happens to be true).  The amount of money to be made from this technology, paired with the potential environmental and health effects make this a very potentially volatile topic.

Obviously I hope that the FDA does not approve this GMO fish for public consumption.  Further, I hope that if it does approve it that they at least require clear product labeling so that those of us how are made very nervous by GMO’s in our food can attempt to avoid them.  For now everything is up in the air.

Why food is kind of scary…

My research into genetically modified foods continues, and I can’t help but feel that no matter how much we oppose the use of this technology,  it will do very little good.  I know that is hugely pessimistic, and not overly constructive but, hey – this is my blog, so I’ll damn well say how I feel.

Genetically modified products are already in a large percentage of the foods we are exposed to – with no labeling.  The companies that control the bioengineering technology are huge and powerful.  The government agencies that are in place to protect citizens from questionable technologies and practices are seemingly unable (or unwilling?) to properly monitor things.  This could be due to an inability to keep up with emerging technologies, antiquated testing and analysis techniques, or some kind of sinister relationship with the very people they are supposed to be policing (likely it’s some combination of these).

These genetically modified organisms (GMO‘s) are supposed to be helpful.  They are supposed to be cheaper and more productive (one of the major reasons that people have been in favor of this technology is to help solve the world food shortage problem), however there is evidence that this is not the case.  They are supposed to be safe, but again there is evidence against this.

Genetically modified crops spread through natural processes into other crops whether we want them to or not.  This is dangerous for several reasons.  Firstly it gives the companies who own the rights to these crops legal cause to sue farmers for growing their crops without paying for them, even if these people had no intention of doing so.  Second these mutant crops could threaten the very existence of non-modified crops, taking over their gene pool and totally replacing them within  a few plant generations.  Thirdly, if, when all is said and done, there are major health and environmental risks associated with these organisms, we may be unable to control their propagation.  And these are just the risks that I can think of off the top of my head.

Genetic modification of animals is another, however similar, story.  So far my research has focused on crops, not livestock, however as I understand it the potential dangers are the same.  It’s bad enough that our factory farming system has made it a practice to be viciously inhumane to our nations livestock and contribute to the rise in diseased food due to idiotic feeding and housing practices (i.e. feeding cows corn when their digestive systems were built to digest grass, causing – well, you know what, just watch Food, Inc.).  Now we have to worry about whether the meat we are eating is even real, or if it in fact comes from mutant cows!!  Most recently I’ve heard about the possibility that the FDA may allow GM salmon to be put on the market.  I think we all know what happens when we mess around with genetically modifying fish.

I’m joking, but only a little.

All this research has led to me being very apprehensive about eating anything.  I’m not developing an eating disorder here, I’m simply unable to put aside the facts when I’m shopping, cooking, sitting down to a meal, etc.  I do not want genetically modified organisms in my food, or the food of my family. I do not want to have to feel creeped out every time it’s time to go grocery shopping or cook something.  I’m pissed off, because I like food.  I really like food, which has always worked out well because – we need to eat, there’s no getting around it.  And I wouldn’t want to if I could.

There has always been  a level of risk associated with eating: some foods are poison (certain berries for example), some foods can carry diseases if improperly handled or cooked (chicken, pork), some foods are laden with cholesterol and salt (which will eventually lead to trouble for the human body).  But these are things that just happen.  We have developed natural defenses against some of these problems, as have the food products (for example, berries that are poisonous are so in self-defense, and often have a bitter, unpleasant taste to prevent themselves from being eaten).  My point is that we already have enough to worry about in terms of food and eating.  We don’t need to add this level of creepy mystery, and dare I say nefariousness to the business of food.  We really don’t.

Desperate searching for something interesting to blog about leads to severe mental unrest

Being new to blogging I find I often have trouble coming up with topics to blog about.  So I was searching the internet for interesting topics when I came upon Morgellons disease and delusional parasitosis.  These are possibly interconnected diseases where in affected people believe they are host to parasites as evidenced by the sensation of crawling, itching, stinging, and biting under their skin (a wholly unpleasant sounding experience called formication).  In the case of delusional parasitosis this condition is psychosomatic – it is imagined, or can be caused by drug and alcohol use/abuse.  Morgellons has similar symptoms, but also includes the presence of fibers growing under and out of the skin (strange red and blue fibers which when examined were found to be neither any known textile or plant).  Morgellons sufferers also claim to have found bugs growing in their skin.  Patients of both diseases present with skin lesions, which are often assumed to be due to the itching and picking of the patients themselves as a response to the itching/crawling sensations they experience.  Other physical symptoms are often present such as fatigue, difficulty focusing, and musculoskeletal pain.

Now, it is unknown at this time whether Morgellons is a separate disease than delusional parasitosis.  Many health professionals believe that the two are one in the same and that Morgellons too is psychosomatic.  The CDC is currently conducting an investigation into this phenomenon.  However for those who suffer the effects of this disease it is very real and terrifying (it is also disfiguring, as the skin lesions – self-inflicted or not – are often not allowed to heal due to itching and picking, leaving these people susceptible to infection and  long-term scaring).    Some professionals are taking the disease seriously and they have a really pretty scary theory about what may be causing Morgellons.

Apparently biopsies of tissue samples from these lesions contain evidence of agrobacterium, a plant bacteria that causes something like plant cancer owing to its ability to transfer genes to plants.  Agrobacterium can also be responsible for opportunistic infections in humans with compromised immune systems.  This bacterium has been used extensively by the biotech movement to “improve” plants through genetic engineering.  You can see where this is going.

Apparently the FDA and the bioengineers don’t actually know what the long-term effects of genetic engineering might be, however this hasn’t stopped or even slowed the use of the technology at many levels of food production.  Something like 68% of the food in america is in part or in whole genetically modified.

And now, still at the beginning of my research into this subject (which has largely changed from Morgellons disease[which may be just the tip of the iceberg] to genetic engineering in our food supply and its potential effects on our health and well-being) I am, as the title of this blog suggests, severely mentally unrestful (ok, that is not a real term apparently, but lets just say I am pretty F-ing disturbed).  I am also angry, mostly at the FDA for allowing genetically modified foods into circulation without proper analysis of their dangers, but also at the bioengineering companies (and all the corporate fat cats who profit at one level or another) for pushing these technologies.

There are plenty of sinister theories about the FDA/Corporate connection, some of which are conjecture and some of which seems to be supported by fact – like I said I’m just beginning to become familiar with this topic.  I will however continue my research (and if you’re reading this I suggest you do some of your own), mental unrest notwithstanding, because sometimes not knowing is worse than knowing the terrifying, awful truth.