Most Americans do not want genetically modified foods and consider them dangerous. Because the U.S. does not require manufacturers to disclose genetically modified (GM or GMO) ingredients on the product labels, the public is largely unaware of when they are purchasing GM foods. Such foods are now found in up to 70 percent of all grocery store products. While an unwitting public consumes more and more GM foods, evidence of their dangers continues to mount.
Genetically modified foods are created when genes from another species or created in a lab are inserted into a food’s DNA. The foods which have the highest prevalence of genetic modifications include some of our biggest crops: corn, soybeans, canola, tomatoes, lettuce, and potatoes. Corn oil and high fructose corn syrup are widely used in food items. Virtually every salad dressing and butter substitute finds that they contain one or more of corn oil, canola oil or soybean oil.
The European Union, Japan, China, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand require labeling of foods containing GMO content. Despite a CBS News showing a majority of Americans want labeling, no such laws exist. A CBS poll also found that 53 percent of Americans wouldn’t buy food they knew had been genetically modified.
Experts and consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about GMO foods as evidence of their dangers continues to mount. In a study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences rats fed genetically modified corn were compared to their parents who had been fed non-GM corn. The results showed a clear difference between the two groups. The rats fed GM food had signs of liver and kidney problems as well as effects on their hearts, adrenal glands, and spleens.
A Russian study found that over 55 percent of the newborn rats from females fed genetically engineered soy flour before, during, and after pregnancy, died within three weeks and 36 percent were underweight. By comparison, only 9 percent of the offspring of rats fed non-GM soy died and less than 7 percent were underweight.
The global leader in the push for GMO foods is Monsanto. A new study which used the same data Monsanto used to gain approval of GMO corn linked russian store organ damage to three strains of the Monsanto GM corn. The study was conducted by the Committee of Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN) and the Universities of Caen and Rouen in France. The study, completed in December 2009, appears in the International Journal of Biological Sciences (IJBS).
Ninety-nine percent of GMO crops either tolerate or produce insecticide – which might explain why we see bee colony collapse disorder and massive butterfly deaths. If GMOs destroy our pollinators, they could be more disastrous than the threat they pose to humans and other mammals. In addition to possible extinctions and eco-system harm, GMO opponents fear they could trigger the emergence of antibiotic resistant diseases due to viruses and bacteria used to modify some GM foods. They also fear such foods could raise the risk of developing cancer, lead to chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia and trigger food allergies.
Would you believe that the average American family spends a staggering 90 percent of its food budget on processed foods? And if you check the label of most processed foods you’ll find an array of preservatives, artificial food additives, flavor enhancers, and food colorings. Now instead of farm-fresh foods, chemical additives from processed foods have become a significant part of the American diet.
Food manufactures include these additives to make their products taste and look more appealing and to increase the product’s shelf life. After all, when you buy strawberry yogurt or ice cream, you expect it to have a reddish color and not a bland color. What we are not told is that some of the common food additives in everyday products can have long-term negative consequences on our health.
Below is a list of thirteen food additives that should be avoided whenever possible:
> Acesulfame K (potassium) – This artificial sweetener (200 times sweeter than sugar) is typically found in gelatin deserts, chewing gum, diet sodas, and baked goods. The testing for this relatively new additive has not been very extensive, but early indications are that it may cause cancer in laboratory rats.
> Artificial Food Colorings: Blue 1,2; Green 3; Red 3; Yellow 6 – These food coloring are commonly found in many of the foods on the supermarket shelves. Blue 1 and 2 have been linked to a small risk of cancer in mice. These are found in baked goods, candy, beverages, and even pet food. Green 3 has been linked to bladder cancer. It can be found in beverages and candy. Red 3 has been found to promote growth of thyroid tumors in rats. It is generally found in baked goods, candy, and fruit cocktail. Yellow 6 has been linked to tumors in the kidneys and adrenal glands. It is found in baked goods, candy, beverages, gelatin, and sausage.
> Aspartame – This sweetener is typically found in no sugar diet foods such as diet sodas, drink mixes, gelatins, and low-calorie desserts. It is also sold under the brand names of Nutrasweet and Equal. The compounds in aspartame can break down into a highly reactive chemical that damages cells. Some possible side effects include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and breathing problems.
> BHA and BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydrozyttoluene) – These are preservatives typically found in everyday household foods such as vegetable oils, potato chips, cereals, and chewing gum. They help retard fats and oils from becoming rancid. They have an oxidizing affect, which can produce potentially cancer causing reactions in the cells.
> Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – MSG is an amino acid used to enhance the flavor in such items as chips, salad dressings, frozen entrees, and soups. MSG allows manufacturers to reduce the amount of real ingredients they put in their products. It has been found to cause brain nerve cell damage in animal studies. In humans, nausea and headaches are possible side effects.
> Olestra – This synthetic fat can be found in some brands of potato chips. It is not absorbed by the digestive system, so it has no calories. Possible side effects include abdominal cramps, gas, and diarrhea and loose bowels. Olestra has been shown to inhibit the body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble carotenoids from vegetable and fruits.
> Potassium Bromate – This additive is used to increase the volume in breads and rolls. Animal studies have linked it to cancer and it may pose a potential risk for humans.
> Propyl Gallate – This preservative is sometimes found in chewing gum, meat products, vegetable oils, potato sticks, and chicken soup base. It helps slow down spoilage in oils and fats. Results from animal studies suggest that it may cause cancer.
> Saccharin – This artificial sweetener is 350 times sweeter than sugar and is found in sweetener packs, soft drinks, diet and “no sugar added” products. Animal studies have shown that it is linked to urinary bladder cancer. The diet-food industry acknowledges that saccharin may be linked to cancer in rats, but believes that the same results would not occur in humans.
> Sodium Chloride – Commonly know as salt, this additive is used to enhance the flavor of food. But excessive use of salt or consuming foods high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure, kidney problems, heart attack and stroke.
> Sodium Nitrate (or Sodium Nitrite) – This additive is used to preserve, enhance color, and improve the flavor of ham, lunch meat, hotdogs, corn beef, and smoked fish. Meat processors use nitrate and nitrite because they stabilize the red color in meat (otherwise it would look gray) and help prevent the growth of botulism causing bacteria. Studies have suggested these additives may cause certain types of cancer.
> Trans Fat – This additive is typically found in food served at fast food restaurants and certain crackers, icing, and microwave popcorn. Trans fats may cause heart problems.
> White Sugar – Sugar is a common ingredient in baked goods, crackers, cereals, desserts, sauces, and many other processed foods. The average person consumes about 65 pounds of sugar per year. Excessive sugar can lead to obesity and other harmful health conditions.
Unfortunately, these food additives are present in many of the foods on the supermarket shelves. Check the labels and if you see one or more of these are present. If so, a health-conscious shopper should consider other alternative products. If you see other additives that concern you, do a search for them on the internet and you likely find a description of the additive along with any possible harmful side effects.