Creating Waves of Awareness
This blog, in honor of the Shavuot holiday, when the Israelite people celebrate the giving and receiving of the Ten Commandments.
Why GMO Is Not Kosher in my opinion?
What is GMO?
What is kosher?
Do you know what is in your food? Truth in labeling.
What can GMO potentially do to you and your children?
What about your health?
What is GMO Genetically Modified Food?
An organism whose genetic characteristics have been altered by the insertion of a modified gene or a gene from another organism using the techniques of genetic engineering. The new method of gene transfer has changed the foods we eat. Between 1997 and 1999, gene-modified (GM) ingredients suddenly appeared in 2/3rds of all US processed foods. This food alteration was fueled by a single Supreme Court ruling. It allowed, for the first time, the patenting of life forms for commercialization. Since then thousands of applications for experimental GM organisms have been filed with the US Patent Office alone, and many more abroad.
What is kosher?
Kosher is synonymous with food that has been supervised following certain quality, reliability and confidentiality requirements as stated on the Orthodox Union kosher certification page.
PURITY | Furthermore, we consider kosher foods genuine, authentic, legitimate and proper. We may question if changing the basic fundamental genetic code turns the food into a new species. Would the rabbinic kosher laws permit a new human-designed food that may bring together an unkosher species with a kosher species, as in an eel with a flounder, or a mixture of two totally different species as in a tomato and fish?
All kosher foods undergo rigorous inspection and cleansing. Do you think it is possible to look under the magnifying lens for what could possibly go wrong with what some call, "Frankenfoods?"
SEPARATION | Separation between the holy and the profane. When we say something is kosher, then it has been set aside with a good mark that it is fit to put into the body. The foods we eat contain essential spiritual nutrition, as well as material building blocks of cellular life. What should we allow to bring together?
FROM GARDEN TO PLATE | Besides the growing, supervision, and preparation of foods such as the separation of milk from meat, we also call the selling and serving of foods kosher.
HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS | In addition, some people consider kosher food 'healthy' food, although many deemed kosher candies, and processed foods receive the kosher label, yet health conscious people would not say they fulfill their requirements for health. (kosher foods) Many Jewish people will tell you that kosher foods prescribed by the rabbis (as teacher/physician) have the spiritual wisdom of what heals the mind/body.
We are what we eat.
ROOT | From the root in Hebrew, “Kashrus,” from the root kosher (or “kasher”) food suitable for consumption deemed kosher, safe, good for life and not forbidden from what has been written in the Torah. Delineated in the Five Books of Moses we find references and lists of types of animal species that we may eat as kosher. (source)
THE LAWS | The Written Laws in the Book of Leviticus:
Certain laws apply specifically to the planting and sowing of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Hybridization of different species: "One may not sow two kinds of seeds on a field or in a vineyard." (Lev.19:19/ Dtn.22:19) We do not specifically find information regarding tampering with the DNA and mixture of many species.
CROSS BREEDING | In the case of kosher wine production all processing steps must be implemented in agreement with the requirements of “Halacha” (Jewish Religious Law). For example, in the vineyard no other plants may be cross-bred with the grapes (because of the prohibition of hybridization).
TRUST | Food scares have made eating kosher supervised foods a trend. According to Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer of Temple Israel Community Center in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, "the three most important elements of the kosher dietary laws are "animals that are healthy, a production process that is as clean as possible and a sense in the consumer that even this most basic human action of eating for survival requires thought and care." In the vernacular, "kosher" means any food that doesn't contain forbidden ingredients--lard, for example, in whole-wheat bread." How do we know whether or not the particular genetic splice is a forbidden food element?
When you consider these concerns about food contamination today, how would you feel if you knew that e-coli bacteria, virus and insecticial elements are embedded into your foods?
INSPECTION | When preparing salads, we carefully check the plants for any insects by careful washing and holding leaves up to the light for hidden bugs. Can we do this with GMO foods? If your foods are not labeled you cannot CHECK ingredients.
RIGHT TO KNOW | Supporters of labeling argue that consumers have a right to know when food has been modified with genes from another species, which they say is fundamentally different from the selective breeding process used in nearly all crops.
STEWARDS OF THE EARTH | It says in Genesis to be fruitful and multiply. If you knew that GMO foods could possibly make humans sterile, would this be an acceptable kosher food? GMO seed and plants are sterile, which may be transferred to humans and other animals, insect, etc. eat them sterile. The problem today, we do not know what we are eating and most everything contains these types of products, GMO soy, etc.
ASK MOSES | "Although there are instances of genetic material of non-Kosher animals being used in kosher foods, to date, no one has succeeded in demonstrating that this renders the food non-kosher. The issues are complex, and require a thorough knowledge of Halachic precedent to date.
On the other hand, are we allowed to mess around with species in this manner? This is a whole other issue. The debate centers around the words of the outstanding medieval Jewish scholar, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (known as "the Ramban" or Nachmanides—not to be confused with his predecessor, the Rambam). Concerning the Biblical prohibition of grafting trees or cross-breeding animals, he writes that this is forbidden for a reason of cosmic import: It disturbs the fundamental path of nature. He calls this act, "obnoxious and vain." Humankind, he says, is given the right to make use of the Creation and to dominate it, but not to disturb its fundamental nature. Speciation is G-d’s business, and off limits to human beings.
When such radical adjustments are being made to the schemes of nature...a responsible attitude is to progress cautiously. The Ramban has a significant retractor on this point: Rabbi Yehudah Lowe (aka "the Maharal of Prague), who lived a few hundred years later. The Maharal, with support from the Talmud, asserts that any change that human beings introduce into the world already existed in potential when the world was created. All that humans do is bring that potential into actuality. The Torah prohibition against cross-breeding is specific to Jewish people and only under the conditions specified by the Torah. Once performed, a Jew is permitted to benefit from the results. I have not come across a significant argument that the current procedures of genetic engineering constitute cross-breeding as prohibited by the Torah.
The truly crucial issues of genetically modified foods are the health and environmental issues. There is a considerable outcry from informed voices that research has been far from thorough in these areas. In fact, there appears to be strong evidence of significant dangers involved. Forty years ago, a horticulturist wrote the Lubavitcher Rebbe about his work stimulating plant growth by means of electric current. The Rebbe expressed his astonishment at the lack of long-term research concerning the effects of foods grown this way on human health, since, "For all these years, human beings have not been eating foods grown this way." Certainly, when such radical adjustments are being made to the schemes of nature as we are doing now, a responsible attitude is to progress cautiously. However, greed and the apathy of government agencies have worked against us in these matters. As a talmudic sage, Rabbi Yaacov of Kfar Chanin, said, "Adam was told to dominate the earth. But the word 'dominate' can also be read as 'descend'. If Adam approached the earth as he was made in the image of the Creator, then he dominates over it. But if not, if he comes as just another selfish creature, then he descends lower than any of the creation."
When responses such as these are written, I do not feel as if they have reviewed all of the material and questions that we now have, because often times undisclosed facts have not been reviewed. Please view the videos below.
CREATION | A dispute about whether or not humans may create or not create new species. The "KEY" sentence which this rabbi spoke was to 'create' without doing harm! This must be where we take our cue and make ethically sound and cautious decisions. 40 minute video lecture
DANGER | What will these new species do in the environment? How will they change nature to make our world more or less inhabitable? Jewish law is to avoid danger and risks to life at most costs. Thus, when letting loose pandora's box of the unknown chain of events that may occur with GMO, which we can see may contaminate the Neighbor's garden and cannot be put back into the box, then should it be allowed as kosher?
RESPECT | I'm sure there must be a Jewish law against ruining the neighbor's property. (property laws) Maimonides includes a large number of destructive activities under this prohibitive rubric.
- This prohibition does not apply to trees only. Rather, anyone who breaks utensils, tears garments, destroys buildings, stops up a stream, or ruins food with destructive intent transgresses the command "Do not destroy." (Laws of Kings 6:10)
- GM varieties can pollute neighboring crops in “pollen trespass.” GM corn has polluted traditional varieties in Mexico, threatening traditional culture and genetic diversity. “Native seeds are for us a very important element of our culture,” said Oaxacan farmer Aldo Gonzlez. “The [Mayan] pyramids could be destroyed, but a fistful of corn is the legacy that we can pass on to our children and grandchildren, and today we are being denied that possibility.”
~ Mother Earth PDF ~ Mother Earth News
MORAL CHOICE | There is probably a financial aspect to GMO that would fall under the Kosher discussion, that we know we cannot take the egg or baby chick from the mother if it sits on the nest. Can we then cheat the farmers by the monopolies of the chemical companies? Saving GM seed can land you in court and even bankrupt you. Monsanto has sued nearly 150 farmers for “patent infringement,” alleging that farmers stole the company’s patent-protected seeds, whether by wind-blown pollen, spilled seed on the farmer’s property, “volunteer plants from a neighbor’s property, or in other ways. Monsanto maintains a staff of 75 attorneys, with an annual budget of $10 million, specifically to prosecute these cases, which have resulted in judgments in favor of Monsanto totaling more than $15.2 million. The company requires farmers to sign “technology agreements” before planting its GM seed, authorizing property investigations, but farmers whose property has suffered trespass from neighbors are not protected.
CONCENSUS | Interestingly, in Jewish law, the consensus becomes law. Therefore, if we wish to change the laws, we need to examine how we feel about our health practices and make a considered decision based upon the facts and beliefs at hand. This becomes difficult when it takes a tipping point and change of viewpoints to overturn a concensus.
LIES | What happens when we provide approval for products introduced into our environment based upon half truths, incomplete information or outright lies?
INCREASE IN ALLERGIES | I'M NOT A SCIENTIST, BUT COULD THERE BE A CONNECTION WITH TWO LEGUMES SOYBEAN AND PEANUTS? This may help explain why persons in proximity to the crops and eating these foods have become hypersensitive with allergic reactions, some even leading to death.
Peanut allergy is a type of food allergy distinct from nut allergies. It is a type 1 hypersensitivity reaction to dietary substances from peanuts causing an overreaction of the immune system which in a small percentage of people may lead to severe physical symptoms. It is estimated to affect 0.4-0.6% of the population. In England, an estimated 4,000 people are newly diagnosed with peanut allergy per year (11 per day); 25,700 having been diagnosed with peanut allergy by a clinician at some point in their lives.
The most severe allergies in general can result in anaphylaxis, an emergency situation requiring immediate attention and treatment with epinephrine.
It is usually treated with an exclusion diet and vigilant avoidance of foods that may contain whole peanuts or peanut particles and/or oils.
The exact cause of someone developing a peanut allergy is unknown. A 2003 study found no link to maternal exposure to peanuts during pregnancy or during breast-feeding, though the data show a linkage to the amount of time a child is breastfed. The same study indicated that exposure to soy milk or soy products was correlated with peanut allergies. However, an analysis of a larger group in Australia found no linkage to consumption of soy milk, and that the appearance of linkage is likely due to preference to using soy milk among families with known milk allergies. It's possible that exposure to peanut oils in lotions may be implicated with development of the allergy. Another hypothesis for the increase in peanut allergies (and other immune and auto-immune disorders) in recent decades is the hygiene hypothesis. Comparative studies have found that delaying introduction of peanut products significantly increases the risks of development of peanut allergies, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, in response to ongoing studies that showed no reduction in risk of atopic disease, rescinded their recommendation to delay exposure to peanuts along with other foods. They also found no reason to avoid peanuts during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. A study conducted jointly in Israel and United Kingdom in 8600 children noted a nearly 10 fold increase in incidence of peanut allergy among U.K. children compared to Israeli children. It was found that Israeli children were given peanut at a much younger age than those in the U.K. following recommendation of pediatricians in the U.K. Pediatric Associations in Britain and Australia recommend delaying introduction until age 3 and have not changed their recommendations as of March 2009.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates that peanut allergy is one of the most common causes of food-related death.
Allergy to peanuts affects 1.3% of the general population. Peanut allergy affects 7 percent of brothers and sisters of persons with the allergy. (British Medical Journal 1996;313:518-521.)
In 2007, the reported food allergy rate among all children younger than 18 years was 18% higher than in 1997. During the 10-year period 1997 to 2006, food allergy rates increased significantly among both preschool-aged and older children. Approximately 27% of children with food allergy had reported eczema or skin allergy, compared with 8% of children without food allergy.
Over 30% of children with food allergy also had reported respiratory allergy, compared with 9% of children with no food allergy. (CDC)
Food allergy is a potentially serious immune response to eating specific foods or food additives. Eight types of food account for over 90% of allergic reactions in affected individuals: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat (1,2). Reactions to these foods by an allergic person can range from a tingling sensation around the mouth and lips and hives to death, depending on the severity of the allergy.
Update September 19, 2012 | GM MAIZE LINKED TO TUMORS