Holy GMO’s, Batman! In Artificial Sweeteners, Too?
GMO’s are complex and often confusing. They are ingredients derived from plants whose DNA has been altered with genes from other plants, animals, bacteria or viruses.
If you didn’t think artificial sweeteners were bad enough, aspartame, considered by many to be the most widely used sweetener in the world, is found in soda, sweets, diet foods and a host of other processed foods. And by virtue of the fact that it’s an artificial sweetener (and with that comes a laundry list of troubles), now it has been discovered that it’s being made using a secret genetic engineering process…a fact that has some scientists saying further testing is needed to discover the impact on human health.
At a G8 summit, world leaders decided to launch an inquiry into the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) in our food. At the same time, it has been revealed that Monsanto, the pioneering giant of GM food…which also makes aspartame (is there no limit to the damage they do to human health?) often uses genetically engineered bacteria to produce the sweetener at their production plants in America.
A Monsanto source said, “We have two strains of bacteria - one is traditionally modified and one is genetically modified. It's got a modified enzyme. It has one amino acid different."
Here’s where it gets seriously creepy. The use of genetic engineering in aspartame has remained a secret until now because there is no detectable modified DNA in the finished product, which Monsanto says is completely safe.
Here is the real kicker. A Monsanto spokesperson confirmed that aspartame for the U.S. is made with genetically engineered ingredients. However, sweeteners supplied to markets outside of America are not.
Okay, so you might be asking why they would do this. Or maybe I am just hoping you are asking. Either way, here’s why. Aspartame is made by combining phenylalanine, which is naturally produced by bacteria when combined with another amino acid. Monsanto has genetically engineered the bacteria so that they produce more phenylalanine. So profit is the reasoning here, regardless of scientists concern that other unknown compounds are produced by the genetic engineering process.
See, the thing is that we do not know whether such a contaminating compound will be harmful, even poisonous until empirical studies are done to test for toxicity, according to Dr. John Fagan, a former genetic engineer who now head the world’s leading GMO testing center.
And if you are thinking this has little or nothing to do with you because you don’t use aspartame, think again. It’s not about the aspartame. It’s about the fact that GMO’s are ending up in your food in the oddest places; in places where you would never expect them to appear.
Because labeling of GMO’s in our food is not required, not mandated. Telling the world if there are GMO’s in your food remains completely voluntary. As consumers that should be alarming because it means we have no say in what we eat.
If I can choose a product based on whether or not it has salt, why can I not have the freedom of choice with GMO’s?
It sounds simple and you might think everyone would be for truth in labeling, right? (Well, everyone but Monsanto, of course.) But you would be wrong. Supporters of labeling foods with GMO’s argue that the intent is simply to inform, to give consumers the information they require to make a choice about what they are eating.
As you might expect, major agricultural companies and processed food manufacturers oppose stricter labels. Their argument is that adding this information would risk…and I quote “sowing fear and confusion among shoppers.”
If GMO’s are as harmless as biotech companies tell us they are, what is there to fear? Why would…or should…consumers be afraid of them?
The USDA says that GMO’s pose no greater threat to human health than any other foods, but that is
up for debate. In the documentary, ‘Genetic Roulette,’ experts reveal that new studies of GMO corn reveal a connection to leaky gut and food allergies. They explain it this way. When insects eat GMO corn (specifically Round Up Ready corn from Monsanto), their stomachs explode. Government agencies charged with protecting our health said this had no effect on human intestinal health. However, evidence exists that eating GMO corn results in microscopic tears in the cells of human intestines, resulting in food leaking into the abdominal cavity, undigested. The body produces antigens to protect itself from these ‘foreign’ particles and voilà! We have food allergies. The research presented in this documentary shows a parallel line of growth in the use of GMO corn and corn products and intestinal disorders like Crohn’s, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut and food allergies, particularly in children.
My view is simple. Regardless of what the opponents present to defend their position…from fear of frivolous lawsuits to labeling costs, the truth is simple. Consumers have a right to know what is in their food and the right to make choices based on that information. Producers, manufacturers, farmers, supermarkets, government agencies and anyone else involved in getting food on your table should be working toward the same goal… truth in labeling.
It doesn’t get easier than that.