As we found out in cloning experiments with animals, the results of manipulating genetic material are unpredictable. Some of the cloned sheep turned out to be monsters, too large to fit into their stalls or to be delivered by normal sheep mothers. If human organs are to be grown inside cloned sheep, there are still disturbing questions about whether the animal viruses contained in them can be transmitted to humans.
Now our very food supply is being threatened by genetic experiments never before performed in human history. Biologist Dr. John Fagan puts it this way: "If genetic engineering was precise and controlled it would give rise to reliable results. In fact, it isn't. There is always some uncertainty as to where the inserted gene will land... Other problems stem just from the immense complexity of living organisms... We cannot predict the range of interactions, nor can we control it. Therefore unexpected damaging side effects are inevitable."
These damaging side effects could include new toxins and allergens in foods; unnatural gene transfers between species, causing the spread of dangerous diseases across species barriers; increased use of stronger pesticide and pesticide combinations; and of course unknown long term effects.
Soy foods are now being promoted for disease prevention. However, soybeans and canola oil are being genetically engineered to be resistant to weed killing chemicals or herbicides. This allow farmers to spray higher levels of herbicides without damaging crops. The increased use of herbicides leads not only to increased contamination of food, soil and water, it is also toxic to animals, and the genetic alteration may spread to other weeds making them very difficult to eliminate.
Soybeans are used in approximately 60 percent of processed food. Canola oil is also used in a wide variety of food products.
Using the new genetic technology, genes that can be spliced into plants include bacteria, viruses, fish and even human genes.
The New Leaf potato from PEI contains a bacteria gene which creates a toxin in the potato to kill insects. Biotech supporters claim that this toxin becomes deactivated in humans, but tests have only been performed on animals. Long term effects are simply unknown.
In a recent article in Health Naturally , nutritionist Carola Barczak points out that genetically engineered tomatoes in imported canned products (purees, ketchups and pizza sauces) can carry anti-ripening genes, antibiotic markers, herbicide resistant genes and fish genes. Further she says that unlabelled U.S. approved squash targeted for the baby food market is spliced with a virus gene.
Dr. Fagan, who has done extensive research in the field of molecular genetics, has called for a worldwide fifty year moratorium on genetically altered food saying that "the entire population is in a dangerous global experiment in the interests of short term commercial gain by giant trans-national biotech companies that control large segments of the world's food supply."
In general, European countries have refused to let genetically engineered foods into their countries without labelling. A recent referendum in Austria showed strong consumer resistance to allowing genetically altered food into the food supply. Polls here show that 83 to 94 percent of consumers want clear labelling.
I believe we should take a cautious and moderate approach to the problem and enable consumers to make their own choice through proper labelling of such foods and a moratorium on the introduction of genetically manipulated foods until they have been properly tested. Consumers meanwhile can get information packages from Greenpeace or The Natural Law Party. Both have good internet sites.
In the native tradition, all are urged to consider the effects of their actions on seven generations to come. When these genetically altered foods enter the food chain, as many have already done, there will be no way to put the genie back into the bottle. For the sake of our children and ourselves, we must insist on our rights to clear labelling and freedom of choice.
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