03 November, 2008

WTF is it with GMO?

What's with that?  You say "organic" and everyone kisses your feet and throws dollar bill confetti at you.  You say "natural" and people are learning that the word doesn't mean what they think, but they still smile at you and generally buy your beans.

But just say GMO and watch everyone light the torches and get the pitchforks.  Even nice sensible folks like those at Treehugger, who should be a bit more responsible with what they %promote.  They even say it in their article - it's the extraction process that causes all the toxicity.  Please please please people, there's a difference between a Frankensoyabean and a GMO soyabean designed to produce more using less resources.  There's less difference between a "natural" soyabean and a GMO soyabean, because the "natural" soyabean has had its genes selectively bred out to the point where it grows more beans from less soil, whereas the GMO bean has had essentially the same thing done to it but with a pipette and microscope.

The "Frankenbean" on the other hand is the kind of thing Treehugger and alert individuals should be on the lookout for - anything that's being bred to be no longer a soyabean, and is instead a combination of soaybean and fish protein and red grape resveratrol, for example.  (No - I'm not saying such a thing exists - but there have been such hybrid chimerae.)

The other thing to watch out for - as always, and as belabored to the point of dead equine in The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook - is the processing.  Processing is the stage where the chemicals are added and subtracted, where good wholesome whole food becomes the toxic stuff that's causing illnesses and deaths.

I could keep going about where to draw a line between "organic" and "GMO" and "artificial" but there are entire ethics committees out there trying to work those boundaries out.  As usual, it's not up to them, it's up to you, yourself.  Are you prepared to eat lecithin from a soyabean that, instead of having been bred for decades to a particular form, has had those changes made overnight? Are you still prepared to eat that lecithin after the lecithin has been extracted with an alcohol?  What about hexane?

Short extract from Wikipedia:
"common constituents of gasoline and glues used for shoes, leather products, and roofing. Additionally, it is used in solvents to extract oils for cooking and as a cleansing agent for shoe, furniture and textile manufacturing. "

and also this
"The neuropathic toxicity of n-hexane in humans is well known; cases of polyneuropathy have typically occurred in humans chronically exposed to levels of n-hexane ranging from 400 to 600 ppm, with occasional exposures up to 2,500 ppm. The unusual toxicity of n-hexane (compared with other alkanes) has resulted in the chemical industry switching away from n-hexane in favour of n-heptane where possible."

Now - after reading the Treehugger article, I felt scared for my life.  But after reading the above, I'm more equipped to deal with that fear and make a rational decision.  My decision is that I care less about which beans produce the lecithin and more about how it's extracted and what it gets added to it during the process.

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