Genetically Modified Foods, NAFTA and Milk

From the World Health Organization:  “Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.” 


Sounds a little contrary to the laws of nature, doesn’t it? Do we really believe that we can interfere in nature with impunity? I have often wondered about such products available on our grocery shelves such as “seedless watermelon.” To me, this sounds a little suspicious. In the context of traditional Chinese and natural medicine, the very essence of the fruit is in the seed. It’s as much a blueprint for the fruit as a single human skin cell contains all the ingredients of our own makeup.


"Playing" with our food is not new. For example, broccoli is a result of careful breeding of cultivated Brassica crops in the northern Mediterranean starting in about the 6th century BC. However, this was done with geographical positioning rather than with some drastic mutation at a cellular level.


Years ago, agrochemical giant Monsanto ( established in 1901 - producer of DDT, Agent Orange and Roundup among its many infamous products ) developed a synthetic bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to artificially increase milk production in cows by up to 20%. 


Whereas there are some that would suggest that genetically modified foods are a way to generate bigger crops and increase yield, this is not without substantial cost. In this case, it is a cost to our health.


Cows injected with rBGH, suffer great stress, high incidences of mastitis, reproductive disorders, swollen legs and often a premature death.


Health Canada scientists are concerned about the possibility that rBGH passed on to humans through milk consumption, might lead to long-term health risks such as sterility, fertility, birth defects, cancer and problems with the immune system.


So far, rBGH is not licensed for use in Canada but there are problems on the horizon that might change this position. This is resulting from the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)  under NAFTA 2.0


In the U.S., dairy farmers are permitted to inject rBGH into their cows. With the new agreement, American milk with this hormone will be allowed onto Canadian grocery shelves alongside the rBGH-free Canadian product.


Where does it go from here? At present, there are restrictions on genetically modified foods in Europe; Canada to a lesser degree but we should avoid complacency.  

Without getting too political, Monsanto is big business. There have been and continue to be lawsuits against the company and definitely it’s reputation is not good. So much so that, following its amalgamation in 2018 with Bayer, the newly formed conglomerate will drop the Monsanto name. There is obviously much history to hide.