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Beware of the new monster potatoes

Posted Sep 23 2010 6:00am

GMO potato

It seems that the governments are again choosing money over people’s safety.  Scientists have just created two new GMO “monster” potatoes.

In Germany, the Minister of Economics, against the will of the German public, has recently approved a new crop of genetically engineered potatoes.  The company behind this new GMO potato is the chemical giant BASF, who has tried to commercialize it for 14 years.  The new potato has been altered to include a gene that makes it resistant to antibiotics, including the ones that are known to fight tuberculosis and other deadly diseases.  Even if the European Union law forbids using genes that may affect human health and the environment, the BASF potato still managed to have the green light.  This potato, while intended for industrial starch, animal feed and fertilizers, will inevitably end-up in our plates through genetic contamination and meat or dairy consumption.  Even BASF admits that contamination is inevitable.

The other GMO potato coming soon to our plate is a protein packed potato.  Under the cover of helping developing countries, scientists in India developed a genetically engineered potato that is packed with up to 60% more protein and amino acids than regular ones.  While this might sounds like good news, we still don’t know long-term effects of GMOs on human health.  The new “super” potato uses a gene that comes from the amaranth plant.  This really striked me because I’m allergic to this grain. This means that I would likely be also allergic to this new potato.  And since GMO labeling is not obligatory in the US and Canada, this means that food allergies and intolerances might continue to grow exponentially as more genetically engineered foods are developed.

GMOs have been potentially linked to many health risks including liver, kidney and heart damage, antibiotic resistance and fertility problems.  So what can we do to protect us?  The first thing is to stay informed of the situation.  You can then take action whenever it’s possible.  After that, growing your own food by carefully selecting heirloom seeds is the best solution. However this is not possible at a large scale for most of us.  The next best thing would be to buy organic, as it is more carefully controlled, and get to know your farmer and the surrounding farms.

What are your thoughts on GMO? Do you think the governments should regulate it better? Would you be likely to buy the new protein packed potato if you would know it’s genetically engineered?

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