StarLink Corn was never meant to be fed to humans; but somehow, a few years ago, the genetically modified version ended up in Taco Bell taco shells, Mission Foods taco shells, and Safeway, Food Lion, Shaw’s and several other grocery store-brand products. StarLink corn is a genetically modified version of the grain that is more resistant to certain types of insects. It was never meant to be fed to humans.
No one knew that the StarLink corn had made it to the human food supply until people got sick. Really sick. Allergic reactions from upset stomach to anaphylactic shock abounded in people who consumed the corn based products. The sickness was as simple as rashes and hives to nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, itchy skin, eczema, shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling of the airways to the lungs and anaphylaxis. American shipments of corn to foreign countries were inspected and turned away, grain elevators were shut down, and major cereal companies panicked while trying to find a way to avoid the modified corn.
Unfortunately, once a genetically modified version of corn, soy, tomatoes or potatoes (some of the most common GMOs) are introduced to the fields, it can be very hard to control. Seeds and pollen are carried by the wind, by bugs and by animals that not only crawl through it as habitat, but consume it as feed (farmers who have no intention of ever using GMO products have been sued by the makers of the GMO seed for having it in their fields, even though it was never intentionally planted!).
GMO products are unfortunately unregulated and untested in our country. We don’t know how inserting a protein or a scorpion toxin into the gene of a plant we eat will affect us.
But we do know that allergies and allergic reactions have increased so fast since GMOs have been introduced into the general marketplace in 1994 that should probably follow the safe practices of Europe, Japan, Russia and Australia. Those countries believe that they don’t understand how modifying or engineering a gene will effect the population that will eat it, so they don’t allow it. That’s right. They don’t allow it. They don’t allow it to be planted in their soil, and they don’t allow it to enter their food supply. Even third world countries won’t accept genetically modified corn as food aid during times of crisis.
As mentioned, in this country, it can be very difficult to avoid genetically modified foods. But, if you are so inclined to guard the safety of your food supply, it might be worth the effort. Here are a few ways to watch out for them in the grocery store:
-When buying fruit and vegetables from the produce section check the PLU (Price Look Up code). If there are four digits, the item is conventionally produced. If there are five digits, and the number begins with an 8, the product is genetically modified. If the number has five digits and begins with a 9, it is organic and not a GMO.
This labeling is optional though so do not assume it is safe just because it doesn’t have the numbers.
-Remember, genetically modified ingredients are not allowed at all in organic food, so when possible, this is a good solution to keeping your food safe.
-Don’t forget to buy rBGH/rBST free milk and dairy products which are also not genetically modified.
And now for the good news! If you want to know more about genetically modified foods, leave a comment here with your thoughts about genetic modification and engineering (Safe? Not Safe? Concerned? Not concerned? Confused? Unhappy? Just want to win?). You could win a copy of Robyn O’Brien’s book, The Unhealthy Truth, very graciously donated to one of our followers by the author and publisher. Contest closes Thursday night at 12pm, so don’t forget to leave your comments!