This week the FDA made an official statement that trans Fats are not good for you and they will (probably) no longer be permitted in food… a few years from now. This is why we avoid GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in our home. Here’s my logic:
First, let me assure you that, yes I do understand that transfat and GMOs are not in any way the same thing.
Yet, in a way they are. Follow me along the bunny trail, here…
Trans Fat is what happens when you add hydrogen to vegetable oil to make it solid. It was first introduced as a food in 1911 when Crisco hit the market shelves. Yes… 102 years ago.
During World War II butter was rationed and the sales of hydrogenated vegetable oil (Crisco and margarine) sky-rocketed.
About 20 years later The American Heart Association began an active campaign to teach people how the saturated fats in animal products, namely meat and butter, were going to clog their arteries, cause heart attacks and kill them. Doctors started urging people to switch from butter to margarine. Trans fats were everywhere.
In the 1980s people were having fits because fast food places were so far behind the times. They were murdering the population by cooking french fries in animal fat! Consumers demanded they switch to hydrogenated vegetable oil.
In the early 1990s some very persuasive research began to be released showing that trans fats actually substantially increased the risk of heart disease as well as other diseases. Consumers demanded that fast food places stop using them. (It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for McDonald’s.)
In 2002 the US government officially agreed with the research. Trans fat was not fit for human consumption in any amount.
In 2006 a law was passed requiring food manufacturers to list the amount of trans fat in their product.
In 2013 the US government takes the first official steps toward making the sale of foods containing trans fats illegal by issuing this statement:
Part of the FDA’s responsibility to the public is to ensure that food in the American food supply is safe. Therefore, due to the risks associated with consuming PHOs (trans fats), FDA has issued a Federal Register notice with its preliminary determination that PHOs are no longer “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, for short. If this preliminary determination is finalized, then PHOs would become food additives subject to premarket approval by FDA. Foods containing unapproved food additives are considered adulterated under U.S. law, meaning they cannot legally be sold.
As I understand it, this statement, boiled down, means that it is likely that sometime in the next few years food manufacturers will have to stop using a product that has been scientifically proven to be unfit for human consumption for more than 20 years now.
Let me say that another way… if you are a 21 year old adult very nearly every single processed food you have eaten in your entire life has contained an additive that the government has known to be deadly since before you were born. If you have a baby this year, that additive MIGHT be banned before your child starts school.
The food manufactures promised it was safe. Scientists fed it to rats and told us it was safe. Doctors urged their heart patients (the very people most susceptible to its dangers) to use it. The government allowed it to be sold… FOR A QUARTER OF A CENTURY AFTER IT WAS PROVEN TO BE HARMFUL.
Now… what does that have to do with GMOs?
Last spring I wrote a post that would turn out to be quite the firestorm called What I Learned About GMOs From 9 Farmers, A Monsanto Employee, and A Whole Bunch Of Reading. I wasn’t trying to be inflammatory. I was trying to get to the bottom of a mystery. My question was, “If GMOs are so terrible, why do farmers use them?”
The discussion that took place was wonderful. People on both sides were kind and civil and polite (with the exception of a tiny group of conspiracy theorists who accused me of being a Monsanto “plant” in the blogosphere. I never did exactly follow their logic but I promise I’m just me.) I learned A LOT about biotech and the reasons why farmers use modified seed. Farmers are very smart people. They have great reasons.
Still, I remained wary.
Over and over I heard, “They’ve been tested.” “Scientists have proven them to be safe.” “No harmful effects have been proven.”
Just like scientists proved that margarine was the ticket to ridding the world of heart disease.
Call me skeptical but… I’m just not convinced.
Look at the timeline, above. GMOs hit the market around the same time that trans fats were first being seriously questioned… a mere 20 years ago (give or take).
If there is some evidence, now starting to come to light, that they are bad for us and if the scientific, business and governing communities move at about the same rate as previously shown that means that my toddler could have made me a grandmother long before GMOs will be banned.
Removing GMOs from our food supply won’t be a simple matter of pulling margarine from the store shelves. This is a modified crop being grown outdoors. The pollen is being carried to native plants. Animals, both wild and domestic are ingesting it. It’s in our water. It’s in our air. It is everywhere.
How will it have impacted the world in another 20… 40… 102 years? God only knows.
I’m not trying to be scary. Really, I’m not.
I’m just trying to explain why I can’t accept that a food is safe just because it’s allowed by the government. We eat some seriously toxic garbage in this country.
Do you know what is proven to be safe?
Remember the stuff that comes from nature? Berries, picked from the vine, vegetables, dug from the earth, meat from healthy animals allowed to eat a natural diet, eggs from birds living in clean conditions…. these are things that our species has eaten and thrived upon since our first steps upon the earth. It is what our bodies are designed to digest and take nourishment. It is what we require to be healthy.
Making healthy choices in your diet doesn’t (nor should it!) require a PhD in chemistry. You just need to pick things that are as close to nature as possible. If it came out of a factory (or if it was grown from seeds that were “born” in a factory) it probably isn’t a good idea to eat it.
At least, that’s this humble hippie’s opinion.
Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?
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