Genetically Modified Organisms are everywhere, and no ID is required...
Unless you’re choosing organic or products specifically labeled non-GMO, you’ve been eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and feeding them to your family and animals since 1996. Because these ingredients are not currently labeled, most people in North America are unaware that they’re consuming them or that GMOs could be contributing to the dramatic increase of many chronic health issues, including diabetes, obesity, autism , infertility and gastrointestinal problems.
What exactly is a GMO?
Genetic modification isn’t an extension of natural breeding and it isn’t a process that can happen in nature. Essentially it’s a swapping of genes between species. The worrisome part is that current GM foods get these genes from bacteria and viruses. The DNA of a virus or bacteria is literally blasted into the DNA of a plant. The process of creating a GM crop can produce massive changes in the natural functioning of the plants’ DNA.
Approximately 94% of soy, 90% of canola, corn, and cotton and 95% of sugar beets planted in the US are genetically engineered. GM soy and corn are found in about 80% of processed foods. Other GM crops include alfalfa, 75% of Hawaiian papaya and a small amount of zucchini and yellow squash.
Here’s the Problem
GMOs are dangerous for us and they’re bad for the environment. While new Frankenfoods foods continue to be developed, currently most GM organisms are designed to do one of two things: make plants more resistant to pesticides or allow the plant to produce its own pesticide, blasting open the stomach of the insect that eats it.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients. Why? Because human studies have shown that the genes inserted into GM soy can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living our intestines. The toxic insecticide produced by GM corn (called the Bt toxin) was also found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn fetuses.
What does all this mean? It means those tortilla chips you’ve been munching on, not to mention the cookies, crackers, snack chips, fast food, frozen dinners and snacks, and other processed foods are full of GM ingredients, most likely corn and soy. If that’s not scary enough, there are hundreds of foods produced with genetically engineered cooking agents, food additives, and enzymes.
Canola Oil a Culprit
Ask your favorite restaurant what oil they use. Chances are it’s canola oil. Even non-chain upscale restaurants use canola oil, which is made from the rape seed (rape seed oil is the number one ingredient in 96% of home pesticides). Like most vegetable oils, Canola goes through a process of bleaching, degumming, deodorizing and caustic refining. So why use it? Because it’s cheap!
We Are What We Eat
If your horse’s feed includes corn, soybeans, beet pulp, or alfalfa, it almost certainly contains GMOs. Because it’s often difficult to tell if GMO ingredients have been added to your favorite commercial equine product, a good rule of thumb is to select only those labeled USDA 100% Certified Organic.
Most livestock in the US eat GM crops that are nutrient deficient and contain high concentrations of Roundup (glyphosate) pesticide. Glyphosate has been shown to decrease fertility in animals while increasing birth defects and miscarriages. Humans may fare no better. According to a US Geological Survey, glyphosate was found in 60-100% of air, rain and water samples, in the urine of city dwellers, and in the blood of pregnant women and their fetuses. It’s everywhere.
In addition, animal studies on GMOs have indicated infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, changes in liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal function and dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation , cell signaling and protein formation. Is it any wonder that we’re sick and getting sicker?
Europe Got It!
If just 5% of American consumers switched to non-GMO brands to feed their families and animals, major food and feed companies would quickly replace GM ingredients. It’s called “a consumer driven tipping point” and it’s one that was reached in Europe more than a decade ago, forcing major food companies there to source non-GM ingredients, in spite of government approvals of GM foods. The US tipping point is estimated to be as few as 15 million conscientious shoppers choosing non-GMO brands.
Avoiding GM Foods
Opinion polls show that 95% of Americans want labeling of genetically modified foods and yet the biotech and large food companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat labeling initiatives in numerous states.
The best option to avoid GMOs is to eat organic foods. If organic is not an option, then simply do your best to avoid the GM food crops and their derivatives (soy lecithin, dextrose, cottonseed oil) and by looking for the “Non-GMO Project” verified seals on products. And, don’t buy products from companies that use GM ingredients.
GMO Crops and Changing Equine Health
The largest genetically-engineered crops in North America are soy, corn, cotton and sugar beets. Wheat, barley and oats are slated for the near future. Our horse’s forages (alfalfa and hay) are in potential peril.
Horses are getting fatty liver diseases, insulin resistance , heart attacks, cancers, thyroid disorders and other health challenges similar to those of humans who eat high fat and carb diets. More issues are cropping up in both humans and horses, including allergies and genetic mutations. While there are many possibilities, such as pollution and pesticides, Genetic Modification is never analyzed for fear of retaliation from Biotech firms.
Roundup Ready® seeds are genetically engineered to be resistant to Monsanto’s top selling weed killer Roundup, which is composed of Glyphosate and a trademarked formula. Farmers can spray their entire crop with glyphosate, killing only the weeds and leaving the crop alive.
No current studies show the effects of GM crops on horses, but research is coming out that questions specific gene changes within the horse that science cannot explain. Researchers have found “how” mares are becoming infertile, but they still can’t tell “why” this is happening. In independent studies of problems with GM foods, rats and mice were used, and the same problem arose.
What You Can Do
Our horses deserve to eat what Nature intended. They need to be able to graze without fear of pesticide accumulation . If our horses are to remain healthy, horseowners must raise their awareness and activism:
1. Write your representatives. Snail mail is most effective. Emails help as well. Petitions are less valuable but still influential.
2. Speak to feed manufacturers and providers. Let them know of your discomfort with GMOs and boycott those that do not have a Non-GMO policy in place.
3. Let other horse owners know about GM grains and forage crops. Education is power. The consumer dictates the future of food, both for themselves and their animals. If no one buys genetically-modified food, no one will grow it.
To decrease the likelihood of long-term health effects, avoid feeding GMO foods to your horse.
Geri Zatcoff is a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Educator and Consultant. She specializes in integrating new research in neuroscience and cutting edge wellness technologies by blending clinical nutrition, proprietary exercise training systems and breakthrough brain science. Find Geri at www.zatcoffwellness.com , “The Science of Nutrition Made Simple.”