Food as a basic human need

Food is a basic human need. We should know what we consume, as food has one of the greatest impacts on our health and the quality of our life from birth to old age. Currently, our society faces a major issue in the state of our food; the issue is a lack of quality. Precisely, the lack of naturally produced foods that are free of antibiotics, pesticides and have not been genetically altered. The quality of food from an economical and agricultural perspective is a whole different story. One of the major and most controversial issues is Genetically-modified (GM) foods. They are an innovation that can end world hunger, but our health and our environment may be paying the price in the long term.

The term, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) refers to organisms that have been genetically altered; these organisms are then used to produce genetically modified (GM) foods. The role of genetic modification in agriculture is to allow for greater control over the organism’s genetic structure in order to enhance desired traits in that organism. This allows the production of crops that have desirable traits such as: withstanding cold temperatures, larger size, and decreased imperfections.

Two decades ago, in 1994, the Flavr Savr tomato was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for marketing in the US. This tomato was genetically-modified to allow for delayed ripening after picking. According to the December  2011 data from the Non-GMO Project, the most common foods that are genetically modified in the US include canola, corn, cotton, papaya, zucchini and yellow summer squash, soy and sugar beets. In 2011, about 94% of soy crop and 95% of sugar beets crop in the US were genetically modified, followed by about 88% of corn crop and 90% of canola and cotton crops. (GMO Facts. Non-GMO Proj. Available at: Accessed December 2, 2013.)

The end result is a variety of perfect and identical fruits or vegetables that have built in pesticides and do not bruise or spoil as easily as an ordinary fruit or vegetable would. However, in this case looks are deceiving, and there may be a great sacrifice that is being made for the access to these perfect crops.

The most worrisome part of this fairly new technology, is the fact that long term effects cannot yet be studied in humans. We are in a dangerous territory between technology and nature where if the balance is disturbed no technology would be able to undo what was done. Animal studies involving consumption of GMO’s have shown increased allergenicity and inflammation.

Research studies conducted on rats have shown an increase in allergenicity, inflammation and cancer linked to GM food consumption. The use of GM crops has been linked to the decrease in bee population and increase in "super weeds" and "super bugs" which are becoming more resistant to commonly used pesticides.

Most of Europe and Asia have banned or restricted the use of GMO's. However, in the US the fight for GMO labeling is a tough one and the people are against a superpower, whose sole aim is to expand GMO use and increase production.

If you are living in Ethiopia and other African countries that had suffered through years of drought, malnutrition and death due to starvation, it seems that the answer is quite clear-cut: bring on the drought-resistant GMOs and genetically-modified fruits and vegetables loaded with life-saving micronutrients.

If you are a farmer, an ecologist, biologist and scientist, dealing with the emergence of species becoming extinct, or alternatively emergence of pests that are resistant to chemicals and pesticides known to man and no means to control them, then you would be in fear of the consequences.

Now more than ever, “knowledge is power.” The bottom line is, ultimately, you have to make a decision of what you put in your body and what you support. Technology is not always bad, but it is not always good either, on the contrary you have to keep yourself informed and let your voices be heard. You cannot rely on any “experts” and regulating bodies to make the decision for you, because this affects you, your loved ones. This affects all of us, whether you take action or not, but you need to realize that YOU ARE THE ONE who is making the right choice for yourself, because "You are what you eat," says Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of life.


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