Genetically Modified Organisms in baby formula and what’s for dinner tonight

Dave Masko's picture

EUGENE, Ore. – Most infant formula sold in the U.S. today contains Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) ingredients, either soy or milk from cows injected with GMO hormones, and some also contain corn syrup with GMOs, confirms a Federal Drug Administration fact sheet; while local Eugene area food activists want to know what's the truth behind the unabeled GMOs in most American foods today.

GMOs in baby formula and other foods sold in the U.S. is not new to local environmentalists here in Eugene and across the country. But, what's new is a growing movement in "green" towns such as Eugene and others across the U.S., while European countries are now labeling GMOs in all foods that use Round up Ready-GMO soy and corn ingredients, and milk from cows that have been injected with rbST Growth Hormone. In turn, food activists here in Eugene and other parts of the country are concerned that the FDA -- the government agency responsible for regulating food, dietary supplements, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, biologics and blood products – has “dropped the ball when it comes to unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled grocery store shelves for the past decade.”

Future of food in the hands of multinational corporations making their own “Soylent Green”

“The Future of Food,” a popular documentary that’s earned the “Human Rights Award” at the Taos Film Festival and numerous international best film awards, is highly critical of the FDA for not requiring GMO labeling in the U.S., while it’s mandatory in Japan and in many European countries.

“The Future of Food examines the complex web of market and political forces that are changing what we eat as huge multinational corporations seek to control the world’s food system,” states the film’s promotion press release.

The film has been a regular feature at Eugene’s annual “Oregon Country Fair” each July since “The Future of Food” was released a few years ago, and has recently been updated an now in available on DVD. “What great about The Future of Food is it explores alternatives to large-scale industrial agriculture, placing organic and sustainable agriculture as real solutions to the farm and Franken foods crisis today,” says Mark and Cherie Eubank who sell organic produce at a Eugene farmer’s market on Saturday’s.

The Eubank’s also point to the 1973 film “Soylent Green,” that was partially filmed in the Eugene area, as “an appropriate recent Earth Day flick,” adds Mark Eubank, “because it looks at world suffering from pollution, overpopulation, depleted resources, poverty, dying oceans and a hot climate due to the greenhouse effect.”

The Eubank’s also notes the similarities in the film’s “soylent green” that’s made from both decayed humans as the “next level in GMO research.”

Community supported agriculture and “fresh food” for kids

Environmentalists here in Eugene and other parts of the country who are concerned about the safety of the food we eat, notes that the U.S. government does not does not require labeling of products such as meat, milk or eggs obtained from animals fed with genetically modified feed or treated with genetically modified medicinal products.

“In other words, do you know what’s in the food you eat?” ask Cherie Eubank and other Eugene area environmentalists concerned about the food Americans eat.

These environmentalists and “food activists” – as they like to be called – are concerned that the process of genetic engineering “is imprecise and random because inserted genes can disrupt a plant's natural growth and development or function differently than expected. As a consequence, genetically engineered foods can have unintended effects, with potentially harmful consequences for human health. The end result could be the bio-synthesis of food molecules that are toxic, allergenic, or carcinogenic.

Thus, they say GMOs are hardly the perfect food for children and babies who need real food that’s fresh and natural.

Still, one local parent attending a local farmer’s market on this cloudy Saturday morning in Eugene said, “What am I to do since they don’t label GMOs on the foods we buy.”

While companies that put GMOs in their food products sold in America are not required by the FDA to label GMO ingredients, that’s not the case in many European countries.

European Union putting major focus stopping GMOs in crops and foods

”GMO Risk Assessment and Management” is a March 17, 2011, “major report” released at the European Parliament headquarters in Brussels, that points to all European Union countries, non-EU countries, industry, and scientific communities worldwide “expressing concern about the rate of GMOs growth and what needs to be done to both stop it and warn consumers.

“Organisms, such as plants and animals, whose genetic material (DNA) has been altered in such a way are called genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Food and feed which contain or consist of such GMOs, or are produced from GMOs, are called genetically modified (GM) food or feed. A number of Member States have invoked a so-called 'safeguard clause' (Art. 23 Dir. 2001/18/EC). According to this clause, Member States may provisionally restrict or prohibit the use and/or sale of the GM product on its territory,” states the “GMO Risk Assessment and Management” report produced by the EU.

In turn, six EU “Member States” currently apply safeguard clauses on GMO events: Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, Germany and Luxembourg.

Frankenfood and Frankenfish in America’s food supply now

There are many opponents of genetically modified food here in Eugene and the Pacific Northwest where the local fishing industry may be a risk from something dubbed “Frankenfish” after the term “Frankenfood,” was coined by Paul Lewis, an English professor at Boston College who used the word in a letter he wrote to the New York Times in response to the decision by the FDA to “allow companies to market genetically modified food” without labeling it. Lewis chose the term Frankenfood after Mary Shelley’s character Frankenstein and the monster Shelly creates in her novel of the same name.

Moreover, both Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund have called for “additional and more rigorous testing before marketing genetically engineered food.” “Sadly, much of the GMOs are now in baby formulas and other foods that we eat,” states a recent Greenpeace statement.

In brief, the Greenpeace advisory – that’s posted each year at Eugene’s “Oregon Country Fair” – states the GMO controversy is a about the advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified food, crops and “other uses of genetically-modified organisms in food production.”

At the same time, the EU states that “the five key areas of political controversy related to genetically engineered food are food safety, the effect on natural ecosystems, gene flow into non GE crops, moral/religious concerns, and corporate control of the food supply.”

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