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What do you know about genetically altered food?

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What do you know about 'Frankenfoods'? 

Are you familiar with the story of Frankenstein?  Seen Soylent Green or read Brave New World?  Think they were pure fantasy?  Maybe not.    We've been hearing a lot in the news about genetically engineered foods.   There's growing controversy about their use. 

Like any and every new science, this technology can be used for good or for evil-- helpfully or harmfully.   Do the producers of these foods know the difference?  Maybe not always.  

First, this is a kind of progress we must accept.  Many of our ancestors rejected the concept of the earth rotating around the sun, and later the consequences of fast trains, airplanes, eating tomatoes, vaccinations, and going into outer space, always trying to hold back progress in the name of fear.   It didn't work.  Science and knowledge advance whether we like it or not.    

Also, as long as the world population continues to grow-- and it shows little sign of slowing-- new methods must be found to feed the increasing amount of hungry, often malnourished people.  Genetically altered foods offer one path towards doing that, according to many scientists.  

Never-the-less, in Europe these "Frankenfoods" have been hotly contested-- and controlled-- since their inception, are even banned in some countries.   That alone is evidence that there may be something wrong.  Our own FDA is lumping these foods in a category in which it doesn't belong-- crossbred foods such as tangelos, nectarines, etc.  It allows for no safety testing at all  before these genetically altered foods are sent to market.  This means that sectors of our environment and our own bodies are being used as a huge pool of guinea pigs.

Have you ever eaten genetically altered items?  Absolutely!  And that's one of the problems;  it's usually not labeled and definitely  hasn't been completely tested.  According to Anne Alexander, Editor-in-chief of Prevention Magazine:

"...more than 60% of processed foods have some genetically engineered ingredient-- though most Americans have no inkling."

Note the "processed".  We cannot avoid processed foods, of course, but it does help "made from scratch" sound better, doesn't it?  But even avoiding mixes and processed foods is no guarantee we will know what we are eating and serving our families.  An extremely informative article in the May issue of Prevention by Andrea Malin with Pamela Boyer states that:

"One-quarter of our farm fields are now filled with genetically engineered crops-- including more that 35% or all corn, almost 55% of all soybeans, nearly half of all cotton, and a growing array of fruits and vegetables."

Even your baby has certainly eaten these foods by now; read an article from Wall Street Journal,  "Genetically-Altered Baby Foods Are Being Rejected -- by Adults" about a struggle at Gerber to eliminate these new and unproven foods from your baby's diet-- just in case.

Many people and organizations are not at all favorably impressed.    Read about a book by Alex Jack,  "Imagine a World Without Monarch Butterflies",  that shows how use of this type of food has spread while we weren't looking.

Another concerned scientist is Dr. John B. Fagan, a molecular biologist who has conducted research using recombinant DNA techniques and has serious misgivings about Genetically Altered Foods.  

ABC News published an article, Push for Altered-Food Labels, that puts forth some points with which almost all thinking consumers must agree:

  1. A lot more research is needed, right away,

  2. Consumers have the right to know what they are eating;  genetically altered foods must be labeled as such.

A crowd is made up of many individuals.   Never feel that your voice can't be heard.  While joining the 2,500+ demonstrators outside the Bio 2000 conference may not be your goal,  if you feel research, testing  and labeling are necessary or worthwhile,   speak up!  Write your congressmen or women; you can use the net to contact your representative, urging him or her to support the "Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act", up for consideration.  Write letters to the Editor of your local newspaper.  Contact CEOs of major food corporations and express your concerns.   

Just don't throw out the baby with the bath water.  Genetic engineering is here to stay, like it or not.  But we need more controls, more research and more information, fast!  

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