OMG! It’s a GMO!!

My mother has recently started seeing a nutritionist. In all honesty, I don’t believe she really needs to. Her diet is pretty well balanced for the most part. If anything, her money would probably be better spent on a personal trainer. She doesn’t move all that much!

Anyway, I was reading the papers the nutritionist gave her to look over just to see what they said. Overall, the advise was fairly sound. Don’t eat too much salty and sugary foods, focus on the protein aspect of a meal first, try to keep to the perimeter of the supermarket when food shopping. The useful advise you could expect from a good nutritionist. But there was one page that really irked me. As you might have guessed, it was concerning genetically modified organisms or GMOs. It started off with:

“A Note about Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)

Genetically modified foods have been shown to cause harm to humans, animals, the environment, and despite growing opposition, more and more foods continue to be genetically altered. It’s important to note that steering clear from these foods completely may be difficult, but if you avoid processed foods you are already ahead of the game since many ingredients in processed foods include sugar, corn, canola and soya derivatives. Look for NON GMO project verified seals.”

The passage was then followed by a list of foods labelled DO NOT EAT to help you avoid accidentally consuming a GMO.

Now, whether you are against the use of GMOs in food or in general, that’s purely up to you. There are valid reasons to be for or against them.  In other words, I don’t mind what your stance is on the topic, provided that they are based on facts rather than hysteria. What I don’t like is when people spread misinformation. I find it  particularly disappointing when a professional is responsible for spreading false information to the public.

For those of you who don’t know, genetic engineering is the practice of deliberate modification of the genome in plants and animals (or fungi…or bacteria). It’s a very old practice which has been used by humans for many centuries, but has recently be hugely improved with the use of technology.

After reading the passage from the nutritionist, I was little surprised at first. Really? I thought. That’s not how I remember it when we covered it in high school. I guess things have changed now that there’s more evidence.

I was curious to find out in what way GMOs were causing harm to humans, animals and the environment and looked up a few articles with Google Scholar. One review by Paparini and Romano-Spica  stated that “despite no described medical condition being directly associated with a diet including approved GM crops in large exposed populations such as 300,000,000 Americans and a billion Chinese, public opinion seems to look at this new technology with either growing concern or even disapproval.” Sounds about right.

Another listed several ways in which GMOs may effect the environment and the breeding of the Monarch butterfly, but no significant results had been found to back up any of these potential concerns. There was no mention of any adverse health effects found in humans.

I typed “GMO” into regular Google to see what would come up. A great number of results flooded my screen, the vast majority of which seemed to come from health bloggers’ pages on how to avoid these evil things without giving any real information on why they were bad. One claimed that they all have more chemicals than non-GMO foods. I find this unlikely to be true. Especially considering how many GMO crops have been altered with a gene to make them more resistant to plant diseases and insect predators. If anything, they should probably have fewer chemicals, since they don’t need to be doused in pesticide. Personally, I’m pretty sure that consuming pesticide would do you much more harm than eating any kind of approved GMO.

Some people are against the use of GMOs due to fear of market monopoly by these large companies who own the patent to each GM crop and believe it harms the business of small family farms. To me, this at least seems to be a valid concern based on reason.

I do wonder why there is such hysteria surrounding the topic. The Washington Post released an article in 2016 addressing the unfounded fears of “Frankenfoods”, which was a quick and interesting read. It stated that the National Academies experts had reviewed relevant studies and had this to say about their findings;

“No differences have been found that implicate a higher risk to human health safety from these GE foods than from their non-GE counterparts.” 

Also, “the committee found no conclusive evidence of cause-and-effect relationships between GE crops and environmental problems. Among other things, the scientists found concerns that the crops are degrading plant and animal biodiversity to be insubstantial.”

People, particularly in the United States, seem to be terrified of them for no apparent reason. Is it because GMOs made using advanced technology has only become available until fairly recent years, and so we can’t be fully certain about their effects in the future? Do people fear that by poking around at organisms on a genetic level should be considered “playing God” and a sinful act? Is it simply because the idea of eating something that has been genetically modified sounds icky and a bit frightening? Perhaps they hear the word GMO and immediately think of this guy.

250px-Blinky

I wouldn’t want to eat him either.

Whatever the hype is about, it certainly doesn’t seem to be based on facts.

John Oliver explains why religion shouldn’t be used to discriminate

I realise that what John Oliver says in this 14 minute clip is entirely U.S. based, but it is bloody hilarious and all so true. The man could easily make a career in comedy.

 

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It really is impressive how much progress the USA has made in the last few years. Only back in 2013 there was no legal way to bring in your same sex spouse into the country and give them a green card, not even with a civil partnership. For such a “modern” country, that truly is a disgrace. Luckily this was fixed back in 2014, but still. Rather late in the game if you ask me. Even though same sex couples could not marry in the Scotland, Wales and England until about the same time, at least they were still allowed to bring in their civil partners from across the globe! Sadly, I do not see Somalia, Saudi Arabia or many other countries in that general area of the globe to follow suit. While I like that the people are keen to follow the Qur’an, religious law is not something that any government should enforce. That is something personal between someone and Allah (or whatever faith they belong to).

I painfully admit that it was not all that long ago (early high school years) that I was a bit of an a-hole when it came to accepting gays and lesbians for who they are. Back then it was something I was convinced was a choice and not a part of who someone is, but I have adjusted my attitude since. I might go more into this in a later post when I have more time to explain, in fact I probably will. Ironically, it was the fact that I’m not entirely straight myself, which was the reason why I used to believe it was simply a choice.

However, I would like to add that this was my attitude towards homosexuality and such, not the people who are gay/lesbians themselves. Much in the same way that I have nothing against prostitutes. Their behaviour is considered “sexually deviant” according to many religions and cultures, but they don’t harm anyone and it certainly does not make someone a bad person. Also, I really have no room to judge anyone for sexual deviancy now that I’m a stripper. That would be both preposterous and judgmental beyond belief.

Anyway, if you fancy a good laugh I highly recommend giving John’s clip a watch.

 

The host of Last Week Tonight tears into people who use their religious beliefs to refuse services to LGBTQ people.

Source: John Oliver explains why religion shouldn’t be used to discriminate