By Joy Schrock – President
Berlin Natural Bakery
Why we joined the Non-GMO Project and what it means to you.
As most of you know by now, Berlin Natural Bakery products are Non-GMO Project “Verified”. We have heard from many of you over the past month asking what exactly “genetically modified” means and to please provide additional information. In this letter, it is my goal to give you a brief overview of what GMOs are and share with you why we are so passionately committed to producing products free from these types of ingredients.
As always we encourage you not just to take our word for it on any issue. The best way to determine what you believe is by doing your own research. The information below will explain why we believe this is the most important issue that our current food supply is facing, and hopefully illustrate to you why these specific types of ingredients could be even more dangerous for those suffering with food allergies.
Today it is estimated that over 80% of processed food found on your grocery store shelves contain genetically modified ingredients. When I first heard this statistic, I did not believe it and at the same time two specific questions came to mind.
Question #1 How is it possible for these ingredients to be in over 80% of our products without us having any knowledge of it or the potential dangers of these ingredients?
Question #2 Why isn’t this specific information listed on our food labels letting us as consumers know that GMO ingredients are in the products?
I know all of this may sound crazy but unfortunately the 80% GMO statistic is an undeniable fact. As you continue reading you’ll soon realize how this came to be.
After becoming Non-GMO Project Verified we Created This Video To Celebrate The Accomplishment
What is a GMO?
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic. This is a process that could not happen on its own in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods farmers have been using successfully and safely for hundreds of years.
For example, a gene from a Brazil nut was spliced into soybeans in an effort to increase the amino acids in the soybean which would create a more nutritious food for animals. The studies conducted by the biotech company on the soybean were done only on animals and they found the soybean to be safe. But thanks to the University of Nebraska’s findings, the production of this soybean was immediately halted. The University discovered that the soybean could induce potentially fatal allergic reactions in people that are sensitive to Brazil nuts. What Dr. Taylor at the University of Nebraska discovered prevented a potential public health disaster. This study also proves that allergens (proteins) are transferred in the process.
The U.S. Government’s position on the safety of genetically engineered crops relies on the findings from the biotech companies. If the biotech companies deem them as safe the U.S. government deems them as safe. This is the same philosophy that the U.S. government uses for off shore drilling. We all know how unreliable the safety measures were in the recent Gulf Coast oil spill. The biotech corporations are every bit as powerful as the oil corporations. The U.S. government does not believe that there is enough of a difference between GM crops and crops found in nature to be of concern.
I’m sure you will find it interesting that currently several of the most powerful positions in our government are being held by previous Monsanto employees. This includes a previous V.P./attorney to Monsanto who is now our newly appointed U.S. Food Safety Czar. He also is the same person that originally approved GM crops when he was in charge of the FDA.
The 3 greatest risks associated with GM foods are:
3) Antibiotic resistance
All three of these risks are important. But for today, we are going to focus on “allergens”.
No one would argue that food related allergies have been rising at epidemic proportions over the last ten to fifteen years. An allergic reaction to a specific type of food is the bodies overreaction to a protein that the immune system reads as foreign and dangerous. Isn’t it interesting that the huge rise in allergy related illnesses started happening at the same time these foods were introduced?
Does it not make sense that when you are injecting DNA (protein) from one species to another that a person could suddenly develop an allergic reaction from the newly created bioengineered food? Could these newly created foods also be introducing a whole new set of allergens? Could these new proteins create an allergic reaction because our bodies don’t recognize them and identify them as foreign? It makes all the sense in the world to me.
If you have a food related allergy, how do you know which foods are safe and which foods could have hidden ingredients that could be dangerous to your health?
The answer is simple…you don’t.
According to the Center for Disease Control, it is estimated that 2% of adults and 8% of children are now suffering with some type of food allergy. According to the Consumer’s Union, medical polls show that 25% of American’s report that they or members of their family suffer from some type of food allergy or sensitivity.
More and more scientists are becoming concerned that new proteins spliced into genetically engineered foods could be allergenic. Dr. Rebecca Goldburg with the public interest group Environmental Defense states, “since genetic engineers mix genes from a wide variety of species, people who are allergic to one type of food may find that they are allergic to many more.” Proteins are what cause allergic reactions. Most all gene transfers in crops result in some protein production. New proteins will be found in crops from sources like peanuts, dairy and shellfish as well as from plants of all kinds, bacteria and viruses. The potential of these crops to create an allergic reaction is unknown.
If you want to avoid GMOs, eliminating these will greatly reduce your risk of exposure:
*Soy *Cotton *Canola *Corn *Sugar Beets *Hawaiian Papaya *Zucchini *Yellow Squash
Beware of other sources that are processed versions of these foods:
*Oils from the above list of ingredients, soy protein, soy lecithin, cornstarch, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup.
*Meat, eggs and dairy products from animals that have been fed GM feed. Most of the GM corn and soy grown is used for feed.
*Dairy products from cows injected with rbGH (a GM hormone)
*Food additives, enzymes, flavorings and processing agents, including the sweetener aspartame and rennet used to make hard cheeses
*Honey and bee pollen that may have GM sources of pollen.
USDA Certified Organic does not guarantee GMO free:
When the certified organic laws were written, the standards included that they would be free of GMOs. Back then this was not a big issue because GM crops were just starting to be planted. Due to poor practices of ensuring seeds be kept separate, cross pollination and lack of government testing, today Certified Organic no longer is a guarantee that the products are GMO free.
All of my research over the last several years and going through the Non-GMO Verifying process has only created more of a desire inside of me to ensure that we have access to natural and organic foods free of GMOs. “We the people” have become the unsuspecting lab rats for the biotech companies and our government allows it. These corporations are masters at spinning their greedy motives into statements of “humanitarianisms” such as “we want to feed the world.” Yes, I am sure that they do want to feed the world. If they are successful in doing so, this would mean that our food supply (seeds) would all be owned by these biotech corporations. If you’ve seen the movie Food, Inc. you know how ruthless these corporations have acted in the past towards small independent farmers that are already seriously struggling to survive.
We realized from the beginning that taking a public stand against GMOs could lead to retaliation from various government agencies closely tied to these biotech companies. We announced our Non-GMO “Verified” status on Tues. October 4th, 2010 and on Tues. October 11th, 2010 we had a visit from the USDA to do an inspection for the FDA. The FDA had not visited our facility in over three years.
Is this just a coincidence?
Perhaps it is just a coincidence or perhaps the FDA is sending us a message that they are watching us. What harm could possibly come from us avoiding GMOs in our products? If twenty years down the road GMOs are tested and proven safe what harm have we caused by not allowing them in our products? Absolutely none! But what if twenty years down the road GMOs are tested and proven to create a whole host of health issues? What the outcome will be if that happens is that we have helped to secure sources of ingredients that will be safe and in their original state. If 80% of products on grocery store shelves contain GMOs and they are proven harmful down the road, we are in a lot of trouble.
We know that approximately 80% of our customers have at least one type and many have multiple allergies to foods. We take this very seriously and this is the #1 reason that we believe that labeling is an absolute necessity to ensure the health and well being of everyone. We believe it is no longer possible for manufacturers to make a non-gmo statement with total certainty unless there is a 3rd party “verifying” that claim.
The Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program (PVP) systematically provides for the evaluation of products, ingredients and manufacturing facilities to determine compliance with the Non-GMO Project standard. As North America’s only independent, third party verification program based on transparent, consensus-based standards, products that have been assessed through the PVP and found compliant are the best choice for consumers wishing to avoid GMOs.
When you see the Non-GMO Project “Verified” seal on packages, you should feel confident that they are in fact meeting the highest standards in the country to avoid GMOs. We could not be more proud to be part of this organization. We’ve always said, we do what’s right, even if it isn’t easy. Taking a stand and saying no to GMOs is not easy…but we most certainly believe that it is RIGHT!
As I stated in the beginning of this blog post we encourage you to do your own research on this issue and welcome your comments and concerns. nongmo[at]berlinnaturalbakery[dot]com.
Non-GMO Food Shopping Guide
Non-GMO Food Shopping Guide
*The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien – A MUST read if you or anyone in your family suffers from allergies, asthma, ADHD & autism.
*Seeds of Deception by Jeffery Smith
*Genetically Engineered Food: a Self Defense Guide for Consumers by
Ronnie Cummings, Ben Lilliston & Frances Moore Lappe
*The Future of Food
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