Two Documentaries: BPA Plastics and GM Foods

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I enjoy documentaries, especially ones that actually teach me something new, make me feel empowered and raise my awareness of important issues.  Recently, I watched two that did just that, "Tapped" and "The Future of Food."

TAPPED

Tapped is probably one of the thorough documentaries I have ever seen. It talked about all different aspects of the bottling and selling of water.  I learned a lot watching it (the point of watching a documentary, right?).  It also made me feel really good about the fact that I rarely drink bottled water, but made me really conscious of all the plastic products around me, everywhere. 

While plastics are amazing, some of them can be very dangerous to our health, especially plastics that touch our food.  Think about how many plastic containers your food is in right now.  And did you know cans are also lined with plastic?  Some of that plastic is bisphenol A or BPA, a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.
 
If you've been paying attention to baby bottles and baby feeding supplies, you'll notice that they almost all are now BPA-free, and even many Nalgene bottles tote the statement "BPA free."  This substance poses some concern on the toxicity of brain, development, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children's.  It isn't great for babies, not do I think it is  great for anyone.  And while the toxicity levels may have less affect on adults, they are still there.  You are still getting that hormone and toxin into your body, probably daily! According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences website:

 

"One reason people may be concerned about BPA is because human exposure to BPA is widespread. The 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of 2517 urine samples from people six years and older. The CDC NHANES data are considered representative of exposures in the United States. Another reason for concern, especially for parents, may be because some animal studies report effects in fetuses and newborns exposed to BPA."

 

I personally don't want that in my body or in the bodies of my family!  Can you believe it is so widespread?  But why is it so high you ask? Well, according to the NIEHS:
 
"Polycarbonate plastics (or BPA) are found in some food and drink packaging, e.g., water and infant bottles, compact discs, impact-resistant safety equipment, and medical devices. Epoxy resins are used as lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes. Some dental sealants and composites may also contribute to BPA exposure.

The primary source of exposure to BPA for most people is through the diet. While air, dust, and water are other possible sources of exposure, BPA in food and beverages accounts for the majority of daily human exposure.

 

Bisphenol A can leach into food from the protective internal epoxy resin coatings of canned foods and from consumer products such as polycarbonate tableware, food storage containers, water bottles, and baby bottles. The degree to which BPA leaches from polycarbonate bottles into liquid may depend more on the temperature of the liquid or bottle, than the age of the container. BPA can also be found in breast milk."

 


BPA
Image: St Petersburg Times via ZUMA Press.
It's crazy to think that we consume parts of plastic in our diets, so much so that apparently traces can be found in breast milk!  How are we supposed to limit exposure to our infants if our exposure is overwhelming? Well, if you're concerned about your exposure to BPA here are some things you can do:
  • Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from over use at high temperatures.
  • Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
  • Reduce your use of canned foods.
  • When possible, opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.
  • Use baby bottles that are BPA free.
May I also add just limiting your use of water bottles?  It not only pollutes our planet, it isn't as regulated as tap water, nor cost-efficient.  Watch Tapped and you'll hear many more reasons why to give up the plastic drinking bottle as well.

Want to do more So do I!
 
I recently signed a petition from through the Environmental Working Group to the Food and Drug Administration asking them to support the ban on bisphenol A (BPA) in containers used in food packaging.  You can do the same HERE.  The FDA will be deciding whether or not to continue to allow BPA to be used in food packaging on March 31, 2012
 
You still have time to let them know you don't want it there! To learn more about what the FDA thinks about BPA click HERE.  To learn what the plastic manufacturers (want you to) think about BPA click HERE.  To learn more about Bisphenol A or BPA (via Wikipedia) click HERE.
 
The Future of Food
In The Future of Food I learned about the farming industry and genetically modified foods, two things I don't know a whole lot about.  The video explained the science of modifying foods and how it affects the future of food.  One of the most shocking things I learned (and maybe it's shocking I didn't know this) is that seeds can and are patented.
This patenting of life, (yes, life) is so incredible.
 
In The Future of Food we meet with several farmers who are sued for using a genetically modified seed on their farm, even though they did not elect to have that seed in their soil, but because of winds, cross-pollination, accident, or what-have-you, they now have it on their ground, and because it is patented, they can are sued by these huge seed companies, and lose in supreme courts.  It's incredible that this happens, isn't it? Not only was it appalling that the use of genetically modified plants (and now even animals like salmon) is so wide spread, but that in doing so has literally killed thousands of small farmers businesses across the country and across the world.
 
I found this incredible article HERE about the widespread nature of GM foods, called "Poisioning Americans daily: genetically-modified soda, tofu, and chips."  In the article is says:
 
"In the United States, 88 percent of the corn, 93 percent of the canola, and 94 percent of the soybeans are genetically-modified. Genetically modified tomatoes, pork, and salmon, among many other foods, are also in our stores. In 2011, the country had 69 million hectares (170.5 million acres) of GM cropland.
Approximately 75 percent of the processed food in American grocery stores has genetically-engineered ingredients. High fructose corn syrup, for example, is found in most sodas, many snack foods, ketchup, and even commercial bread and that syrup usually comes from GM corn.
If the food label has words like ascorbate, lysine, maltodextrin, modified food starch, or xanthan gum than you’re probably eating GM-derived food."
 
The little words "organic" never meant so much to me until I watched this video.  Nor the importance of small farmers and their work.  But, watching this video and learning more about GM foods also let me to more research as to why it really mattered at all. In this same article it talks about the health affects of GM foods:
 
"Genetic engineering has produced toxins never seen before, and those toxins are in the GM foods we’re eating. It has increased the level of allergens in GM crops, altered the composition of protein and other nutrients, and increased the GM crop’s absorption of pesticides and other chemicals. It doesn’t matter how much we wash an ear of corn. We’re eating those pesticides and chemicals, too.
Scientists have linked microRNA (ribonucleic acid) to cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, among other illnesses. It is found in GM crops, like rice, and in the blood and organs of people who eat those GM crops. Recently, Chinese scientists found that microRNA survives the human digestive process and affects, among other things, our cholesterol function.
In independent laboratories from the U.S. to Russia, animals fed GM foods suffered damage to their kidneys, livers, hearts, adrenal glands, spleens, and the haemotopoietic (blood-forming) system. They slowed immune response times, provoked often severe inflammatory (allergic) responses, and altered testicles and sperm cells in males. Infant size and weight dropped. Infant mortality rates skyrocketed to over 50 percent.
Traces of Bt toxin from Monsanto Bt corn were found in the blood of 93 percent of the women studied and in 80 percent of their umbilical cord and fetal blood."
 
It is so wide spread in our American society and has been for years.  It is my belief that this could be a large factor in the rise of cancers in the last 50 years, the rise of birth defects, obesity, and so much more.  It's because our food is poisoning us!
 
Now the real question is WHY does this happen in America?  Why is this in a lot of our food?  And the simple answer is greed. 
 
The movie does a really great job of explaining the history and initial introduction of genetically modified foods and how it rose to the top.  But, the crazy thing is that even with recent studies done around the world, the US included, we are one of the few industrialed nations that have a wide-spread acceptance of GM products.  In fact:
 
"GM giant Monsanto has stopped developing genetically-engineered crops to be grown in Europe, because most European countries refuse to allow them to be grown.
In America, however, the Food & Drug Administration’s Deputy Commissioner for Food Safety is a former Monsanto executive. In February 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sped up the approval process for genetically-modified foods."

But, 92% of Americans want the FDA to label genetically engineered foods.  And you can add your voice to that 92% by joining in the petition to the FDA through justlabelit.org.
 

~Katelyn

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