Excuse Me, There’s a Fish in my Tomato: A Look at Genetically Modified Foods

Ok, so the tomato I referred to in the title is no longer on the market. But at one time it was. Yes, a tomato inserted with the genes of a flounder fish. This was the answer to the farmers having a problem with tomatoes being lost in the frost.

Enter the scientists who discovered a gene in the flounder fish that allows it to survive in deep, cold water. They extracted the gene from the fish and inserted it into the tomato. These foods are Genetically Modified ("GM").

Of course inserting a gene is no easy task, nature doesn't usually allow a fish and a tomato to "get together". Enter the scientists again who came up with using bacteria to essentially make a hole in the host (in this case the tomato) DNA into which they inserted the isolated fish gene.

Now as I said the tomato did not last long on the market, consumers did not like the taste, it had no flavor. But the new wave of genetic engineering was well on its way. Scientists continued, and continue, to research what genes they can transfer from one organism to another.

Today the main GM foods are corn, canola, soy, sugar (beets) and cotton seed oil. Yesterday I mentioned that corn was low on the pesticides and whilst this is true on must pay attention to the fact that corn is one of the main GM foods.

In Whole Foods recently they only had conventional corn, I asked if it was GM and was told, "We can't really be sure." So even at Whole Paycheck you cannot be assured your corn is not GM unless you buy organic. I would add it to your "only eat if it's organic" list.

GM crops account for more than 167m acres worldwide and the US is responsible for 2/3 of that acreage. 6 countries, US, Argentina, Canada, Brazil, China and Brazil, grow 99% of GM foods.

There is no labeling requirement for GM foods in the US despite the fact that most European countries have either a GM ban or a labeling requirement. Shouldn't we be able to choose whether we eat GM foods or not. I certainly think so and in this way the US is lagging behind the rest of the world and putting our health at risk.

So, what can you do to avoid GM foods?

First, look at the PLU code on your produce, you know that 4 digit number that is on the annoying sticky label. 4 denotes conventional, 9 is organic and GM is 8. That said not all foods are labeled but for sure never buy PLU 8.

Secondly, buy organic corn, soy, sugar and cotton seed oil. This includes processed foods that contain them as an ingredient.

Third, become more informed about GM foods and the risks they could have upon your health. This is just a quick introduction but start reading articles about GM foods and I am sure you will come to the conclusion that they probably are NOT good for your health.

Fourth, sign that "Say No to GMO" petition the next time it crosses your FaceBook page. Until we stand up and unite to say no (as did the UK in the late 90s) we will be part of an experiment that no-one knows how it will turn out.

A great way to "download" information is to watch a movie such as, Food Inc or King of Corn to name but two.

I hope this starts your thought process into taking responsibility for the health and welfare of you and your family.

And let's all envision a world without GM foods period. Together we can make anything happen, we just have to get together on the issue and take a stand by voting with our forks at the table and our dollars at the supermarket.

To your greatest health, for that is where your real wealth lies.