On the evening of April 20th, internationally renowned GMO expert Jeffrey Smith preached to the choir – Natural Gourmet students, grads, faculty, and friends – about the dangers of genetically modified foods. The evening lecture was organized by NGI Instructor Richard LaMarita, a longtime friend of Mr. Smith’s.
While his audience was probably more informed than most about the subject of GMOs, the information Smith shared was stunning and made a profound impact on everyone attending. Okay, he’s had a little practice – speaking non-stop for years, internationally, to world leaders, journalists, lawmakers, and the public.
Jeffrey Smith is the founder and Executive Director for the Institute for Responsible Technology, whose Campaign for Healthier Eating in America “mobilizes citizens, organizations, businesses, and the media, to achieve the tipping point of consumer rejection of genetically modified foods.” He is also the best-selling author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, two highly accessible and well-researched books on GMOs.
The lecture was comprehensive and spellbinding, starting with a history that makes clear the FDA’s role in approving and promoting GMOs in 1992 despite extensive research from its own scientists as to specific and significant dangers. Smith also detailed the imprecision of the science: the techniques of inserting genes into food have the unpredictable result of creating potentially hundreds of thousands of genetic mutations that can cause allergic reactions and disease.
Smith spoke of the 6 major, approved genetically modified crops – soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets, and alfalfa (as well as Hawaiian papaya, some zucchini, and crookneck squash) – and the effects they’ve had on the animals that have eaten them. In feeding studies and on farms, animals consistently refused GM feed when given a choice, developed allergies or diseases from consumption of GM feed, and in some cases died or failed to thrive on a GM diet.
Perhaps the most daunting news of the night was the persistence and evolution of GM genes in our own intestines. Smith informed us that “long after we stop eating GM foods, we may still have GM proteins produced continuously inside us,” a scenario that could among other things cause diseases resistant to antibiotics or “turn our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories.”
The good news is that we’re near what he calls “a tipping point.” If we increase pressure to halt the production and marketing of GM food, we can stop its proliferation as Europeans did in 1999. Ending on a positive note, he presented us with his organization’s Non-GMO Shopping Guide and encouraged all of us to join the Tipping Point Network, the Institute for Responsible Technology’s action group. Check out these resources as soon as you can. Let’s make this tipping point happen together.