Atelier N°3, article 21

What people do not know about food
Frédéric Méni
Student Paper
Université Stendhal, Grenoble III
American Studies Section
© June 2003



1. Genetically Modified Organisms
As far as food is concerned, GMs that are used by the industrialists can be soy, corn colza… In addition to that, some additives can contain GMs.

As you probably know, plants have natural enemies that destroy them. Thus is it required for the farmers to use insecticides and pesticides that are dangerous for Nature and pollute water reserves.

One of the aims of GMs is to allow the plant to produce its own "insecticide" and as a consequence, to resist insect attacks. To allow such a thing, genetic modifications are brought to the plant’s DNA using a special technique that enables scientists to add new genes to it. But the problem is that the species barrier is crossed. Indeed, it is possible to add animal genes to plants and these new genes lead the plant to produce new proteins, and new kinds of allergies could appear because of them. Moreover, some scientists say that the insects could adapt to these genetically modified plants, others say that a genetically modified plant could contaminate a "natural" plant of the same species.

Without stand back, it is impossible to know. But what is known is that GMs are dangerous for the farmers. In fact, the firms that produce GM seeds could control the whole market and do what they want, just as Microsoft Corporation does. For example, it must be remembered that Monsanto added a gene called "Terminator" that sterilized the seeds so that the farmers always had to buy new seeds. Monsanto decided to stop the use of "Terminator" in 1999 (October) because of the protests, but for how long?

In Europe, the industrialists that produce food -intended for human consumption- have to mention the use of GMs (if above 1%). In the United States of America, NO debate in public was organized.

2. Gelatin
Gelatin is used to prepare sweets, mousses, desserts… To produce gelatin, animal bones are exposed to heat. Vegetal gelatin can be found, but the great amount of animal bones (coming from slaughterhouses) and their very low cost can explain that the industrialists prefer to use animal gelatin. Pork or cow bones are often used to produce gelatin.

3. Cochineal
Better known as E120 or E124, cochineal is an additive used for coloring food. But what is rarely known is that cochineal is a scarlet dye, crushed to obtain a red-colored liquid. Yes, you eat insects when you eat your yoghurt…

If you need further information, do not hesitate to contact me at : < > !