More and more people are waking up to the dangers of GMOs, aka genetically modified foods, but the crops can be hard to avoid especially because of their ability to cross-contaminate other crops and move stealthily through the food chain.
Recently, Japan and various other nations decided to deny a shipment of U.S. wheat after it was discovered that it contained GMO material, even though GMO wheat was never made commercially available and supposedly was halted by Monsanto, the massive chemical corporation that has drawn the ire of protesters around the world for its continued takeover and altering of the food supply.
Current methods for testing for GMOs are very difficult for farmers to administer and costly as well, and consumers are also left in the dark due to lack of labels and adequate testing.
But that could all change in the near future as scientists might well be on the way to developing GMO testing technology.
New Device May Help Customers Find Out if it’s GMO
According to a recent article on the website PreventDisease.com, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a cradle and app that use camera phones and the CPU inside of each phone as a sensor to detect foreign proteins along with toxins and several other molecules, which could be useful for finding out whether foods contain the foreign matter consistent with GMO foods.
The device would use a photonic crystal to reflect a single wavelength of light to view changes caused by the various molecules after they attach themselves.
If this is true it would represent a major step forward in the fight for GMO Freedom. While the movement is still in its early stages and spreading even basic awareness is still a high priority, there has been a tendency as of late to speak, protest and act in emotional ways rather than to focus on solutions.
Solutions are of course hard to come by for such a complex problem, but the transparency and awareness level provided by such a device would be a major step forward. Cross contamination from GMOs may simply be a fact of life for the time being until major changes are made, but knowing whether or not your food is GMO, and giving that power to organic farmers for a much better cost, can make a huge difference.
Current GMO Testing Technology: Expensive and Difficult
In a recent interview I conducted with the head of the Organic Growers and Seed Traders Association, Jim Gerritsen that can be viewed at this link, it was revealed that the current procedures for testing crops for GMOs are expensive and difficult, suggesting that a change would be quite welcome.
Gerritesen said that it takes about 200 dollars to perform a laboratory test for 10,000 kernels of corn for example, a bill that is unfortunately picked up by the organic farmers themselves even though it should be the responsibility of GMO growers to stop their own crops from cross-contaminating others, in a more just world that is. This is a routine practice for many farmers who fear losing their organic certification and in turn access to many important markets both abroad and at home.
“We don’t think it’s fair for organic farmers (to pay for a test) to see if we’ve been contaminated or not, well, why should the innocent victim have to pay for this cost to say, whether we are free from contamination or not, certainly the polluter should pay,” Gerritsen said in the interview.
“That’s the principle operation, the principle within our political system is that the polluter pays. Monsanto has turned this around so that the innocent victims are the ones having to put the buffer our side of fence, we’re suffering contamination and we pay for the testing. We think this violates our property rights and we don’t like it.”
The current tests he was referring to can detect all the way down to a single kernel. There are cheaper methods available such as a strip test, but it is not nearly as comprehensive.
“A strip test can tell you if a load is hot but not if a load is cold, in other words if you have a seed lot and you have GE contamination in that, a strip test can identify that you do have the contamination, however, if you do a strip test and it comes out negative it is incorrect to extrapolate that it is clean from GE content,” Gerritsen explained.
“If you’re taking in corn and have organic facility there is no tolerance for GE contamination. If the strip test finds that a load is hot you have to turn it down, but you still have to do PCR testing to develop a high level of confidence in that load of crops.”
Gerritsen hopes that a new testing method can be developed for farmers because of the continued costs associated with the procedures.
“Our small family farm is spending thousands of dollars of testing and that’s coming right off of our bottom line, to do what we feel we need to do to protect farmers and customers from GM seeds.”
The proposed device mentioned in the article from PreventDisease.com seems to be more for personal use, but it could well be altered in time to become useful for organic farmers seeking to monitor and avoid cross-contamination as well.
Such new GMO testing equipment would be equally welcomed by consumers, co-ops, food distribution services and many more who often have a hard time determining whether or not the food they’re eating is truly GMO or not, something that’s become increasingly difficult in recent years.