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Why Avoid Genetically Modified Foods?

In the past, humans have improved crops by selecting pollen of plants with a desired trait and helping it to fertilize other plants. Now geneticists introduce bits of foreign DNA into the DNA of a developing plant or seed. This may even be from a different life form, like a fish–something that could never happen in natural evolution. Big companies claim this is safe as well as profitable. Consumers want food from GMO (genetically modified organisms) to be labeled.
The Green Revolution in the latter part of the 20th century was supposed to eliminate hunger in the Third World. However those genetically superior seeds required more water, plus chemical fertilizers and insecticides to get bigger crops. Poor farmers couldn’t afford this plus having to buy new seeds every year.
In the United States the family farm was replaced by large scale agriculture that needed extra insecticides to control pests on the huge acreage of a single crop. There was no room for the fence rows of native plants and birds that kept insects under control. The small farmer used to lose over ten percent of his crops to insects. Now with the use of insecticides crop losses are still over ten per cent, even with ever stronger chemicals, as the insects mutate.
Big agriculture also used chemical control of weeds, starting with 2-4-D. This killed most weeds but didn’t harm grasses, so it was used on corn, wheat and other grains that are all in the grass family. Products with 2-4-D were also used by golf courses. In the Viet Nam War as the major ingredient in Agent Orange, its wide application on tropical forests had long term effects on both civilians and soldiers. It was linked to cancer, Parkinson’s disease and reproductive problems.
Glyphosate (Roundup) is an even more dangerous herbicide. It kills any type of plant by inhibiting a plant enzyme. Since humans don’t have that enzyme, it was considered harmless. Geneticists created “Roundup Ready” soy, corn, canola and sugar beets which resist Roundup. Therefore Roundup could be applied to the surrounding soil to kill the weeds. However, glyphosate like 2-4-D is a chlorinated hydrocarbon soluble in fat as are many insecticides. It could be in the edible seed of the crop. If these crops are fed to animals the glyphosate gets in their fat and is passed on to us. Contaminated soy and canola oils get to us directly in manufactured food products. This kills the good bacteria in our intestines. They no longer make B vitamins or tryptophan. Our bodies react with inflammation, gut disorders, depression and possible increased susceptibility to diabetes, obesity, infertility and cancer. These and other dangers to humans are described in the journal Entropy, 2013 15(4) 1416-1463.
Be safe. Eat whole natural foods from small organic farms.

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A Different Silent Spring

Years ago Rachael Carson warned that pesticides might cause song birds to disappear. Banning DDT helped avert that but newer pesticides can be a problem according to. Pesticide Action Network at Have you heard any buzzing or seen wild bees or other insects around the blossoms of your fruit trees or flowering shrubs? None are around the bounteous blossoms of my plum trees for the first March in twenty years. Now, even the later blooms of quince or lilacs aren’t attracting any insects. What is going on? Could it be related to wide-spread spraying from helicopters trying to kill mosquitos a few months ago?
Commercial hive owners have been reporting mysterious honey bee deaths for several years but could not blame a specific insecticide. During those years I still got abundant crops from my plum, quince, loquat, persimmon, pomegranate and orange trees. A resident scrub jay is still here and I see an occasional group of bush tits. More noticeable is the much lower number of ducks and geese on nearby Lake Natomas where I kayak. They have gone from dozens to a few isolated pairs this year.
In my book I tell how the insecticide malathione harmed my muscles and nerves. We know that anything strong enough to kill an insect can affect similar cellular enzymes in birds or mammals. I say avoid meat and milk from animals produced in factory farms where insecticides, antibiotics and other chemicals are used Food from an organic farm can keep you healthy. We need insects but let’s keep them under control in natural ways, like having weedy fence rows between fields as our grandparents did. This could encourage insect-eating birds.

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Will You Get a Heart Attack by Eating Eggs?

Statements regarding a connection between the cholesterol in egg yolks and getting a heart attack have been around for over forty years. However, cholesterol is essential to life and has an undeserved bad name. No one should avoid natural sources of cholesterol. It’s in all your cell membranes and is a major component of your brain. Cholesterol is the starting molecule for sex hormones, adrenal hormones and vitamin D. If you don’t get enough in your diet, your liver makes more. However, it can make too much if you’re getting lots of high-fructose corn syrup in your food or beverages. This raises LDL-cholesterol and other fats in your blood.

Just when people were starting to eat eggs again, a study came out that reported that men who ate eggs had thirty percent more heart attacks than those who didn’t. I haven’t seen the article. Were the subjects identical in all their other food choices and general life style? If indeed they were, let’s consider where the eggs came from and how they were prepared.

Humans have been eating eggs for thousands of years without harming their hearts. However, in the past thirty years more eggs have come from factory farms where the hens may have been fed antibiotics and treated with insecticides. Since the 1950s more and more insecticides have gotten into animal products. I would rather pay more for organic eggs and not worry.

If indeed cholesterol is oxidized by high heat I prefer not to break the yolks. Instead of making an omelet, I brown onions, ginger and sliced mushrooms in olive oil, then add other vegetables plus a little water. On top of this I poach two eggs. This makes an ideal supper dish.

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