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Prescott Valley gathering discusses GMOs

New GMO-Free board member Cherie Dreves attended a presentation on Wednesday, June 17, regarding GMOs, sponsored by Prescott Area Celiac and Gluten Free Support. (Trib Photo/Briana Lonas)

New GMO-Free board member Cherie Dreves attended a presentation on Wednesday, June 17, regarding GMOs, sponsored by Prescott Area Celiac and Gluten Free Support. (Trib Photo/Briana Lonas)

Food can either kill you or heal you and a recent gathering in Prescott Valley produced startling evidence that suggests both scenarios are true.

The Prescott Valley Public Library hosted a presentation on Wednesday, June 17 regarding GMOs and their potential dangers to the public.

The Prescott Area Celiac and Gluten Free Support organization conducted its monthly meeting at the library and presented special guest speaker Shea Richland.

Richland founded GMO-Free Prescott more than three years ago and works to educate and raise awareness about genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

"GMO is a new life form," she said.

Richland explained that a GMO is the result of a laboratory process that involves gene splicing, whereby scientists take genes from one species and insert them into another - resulting in a product that exhibits desired traits or characteristics.

For example, these GMO foods may be herbicide tolerant, pest resistant, or both, she explained.

This process is also known as genetic engineering (GE) or genetic modification (GM).

"What's happening worldwide is that many countries outright ban GE crops or require labeling," Richland told the audience.

GMO ingredients can be found in gluten free foods, she said and advised caution because sugar made from sugar beets or beet sugar are genetically engineered.

"If the label does not specify cane sugar, it could very well be GE modified beet sugar. A large percentage of sweeteners used in processed food actually comes from corn, not sugar cane or beets."

She held up several charts revealing that in more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan and all of the countries in the European Union, these areas restrict or ban the production and sale of GMOs.

The following foods have been approved for genetic engineering and commercial production in the U.S:

Alfalfa

Corn

Sugar beets

Zucchini and yellow summer squash

Canola

Cotton

Papaya

Soy

Ingredients derived from these risk crops include amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, high fructose corn syrup, textured vegetable protein, vitamin C, yeast products, lactic acid and more.

"Educate yourself and know where your food comes from. Let food be your medicine," Richland said.

People might feel overwhelmed, at first, to rid their diets of GMO.

Most of Richland's diet is organic and non-GMO, "But that didn't happen overnight.

"As I began reading labels, the next time I bought oil, I made a different choice. Then next with processed food, so it's been about replacing things," she said.

"Eliminating GMO foods from a gluten-free diet speeds recovery in many cases."

She said that the tide is turning and the more people speak out about GMOs, the sooner the battle against GMOs will end.

GMO-Free Prescott recently welcomed new board member Cherie Dreves.

Dreves explained that eliminating GMO can be a slow process and that's okay.

"Nobody has to do it the way I did it."

Dreves chose the drastic measure of cleaning out her kitchen in one day.

"The more you clean your diet, the more you will want to. Your whole lifestyle changes without giving much thought at all," she said.

She explained that in 2006, New Year's Day, she spent hours at a health food store trying to figure out what she could eat.

Before that day, Dreves had spent 10 years puzzling over what caused her allergies.

Dreves and Richland both agree: The evolution from processed junk, to real food, to all organic is a step by step process.

"Once you have real food in your system, you will want to take it to the next level, Dreves said.

Dreves writes for Yavapai Health and Wellness and has a blog, absolutelyawake.com.

GMO-Free-Prescott is a coalition of consumer, business owners, professionals and allied groups working to raise awareness and increase understanding about GMOs and pesticides in the community. 

For more information, visit gmofreeprescott.org

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