Genetically modified organisms (GMOS) represent a fierce battleground between those who claim that they increase farm productivity and those that fear they may pose serious health concerns. Perhaps the most controversial are crops that are genetically modified to be resistant to weed killers using glyocophosphate, a petroleum compound that is sold under many different trade names. These GMOs allow farmers to spray weed killers directly on weeds in their field without harming their crops.
According to CBS News, the controversy stems from a French study. It found that mice fed genetically modified corn sprayed with glycophosphate containing weed killers were more likely develop huge tumors than mice fed corn that had not been genetically modified.
Proponents claiming that the GMO corn was safe were quick to point out a number of flaws in the study. The main flaws were that the type of mice chosen had a high tendency to develop tumors anyway. Makers of these GMO products were quick to point out that these types of tumors frequently appear in mice used in control groups in other studies, but they did not say whether any of the mice in this particular study’s control group developed tumors. The study was deemed inconclusive by GMO proponents due to a small sample size of only 20 mice.
What this means is that the study needs to be conducted again with a larger sample population and with a different type of mice that is not so tumor-prone. In the meantime, we, as consumers must simply sit back and wait until this is done.
Many countries already require the labeling of foodstuffs containing GMOs. Meanwhile, in the United States the labeling of GMOS is still being tossed around like a political hot potato. According to CBS, the FDA remains decidedly neutral on the topic. California recently put the issue up for vote and it was defeated.
With the development of weed killer ready crops it is more likely that use of weed control products will increase. This means that higher levels of the substances will end up in our drinking water via farm runoff and in wastewater from food processing facilities. In October of 2011, a Canadian study found glycophospate levels anywhere between 5 and 20 times above the permissible exposure limit in the urine of city dwellers. Claims that the pesticide is not in our foods because it is washed off in the food processing are difficult to support because glycophospate is systemic and works by preventing the plant from making proteins that it needs for growth. It works on a cellular level.
Glycophosphate can be found in corn, canola, soybeans, cotton, and alfalfa. As a consumer, there are several precautions that you can take to avoid glyocophosphates. The first is to read the labels on packaged and processed food. Unless it is labeled as Organic, or if you are outside of the United States that it does not contain GMOs, there is a high probability that it contains GMOs and potentially glycophosphate.
How do you plan to protect your family? Please let us hear your suggestions in the comments below.