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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Killer Bans: Death By Oatmeal and Bye to GMOs

Oatmeal was in the news here recently for being yet another American product banned by Taiwan over health concerns. Previously, Taiwan banned US beef for six years partially from Mad Cow Disease and the use of ractopamine-an additive that promotes leanness which is banned in 160 countries, yet still used in the US. Consequently, Taiwan banned US pork containing ractopamine. That ban still remains, despite US pressure.

Having grown up on rolled oats for breakfast, I was a little curious to this most recent ban. I still occasionally ate oats and rye flakes, thankfully not Quakers. Since the announcement was made at the end of May, I haven't eaten the oats I bought at the local health food store. I'm totally turned off by it.

This WHO listed carcinogen, glyphosate, is created by Monsanto (never a good sign) and is the most common herbicide used in the world. It is used by GMO grown oats, wheat, corn, soy, cotton and barley. Despite Quaker's claims of its oats going through a washing process, glyphosate can't be removed.  Glyphosate has been known by Monsanto and the US government since the 1980s to cause, "Severe liver and kidney damage + Chronic kidney disease; Disruption of hormonal systems which can potentially lead to multiple organ damage and hormone-dependent cancer; Developmental and reproductive toxicity, including damage to sperm and miscarriage and premature birth + Disruption of beneficial gut bacteria, favouring the growth of botulism-causing bacteria in cows; Damage to DNA; Birth defects; Neurotoxicity; Cancer...Even at very low doses of exposure, glyphosate kills placental, embryonic, and umbilical cells. Glyphosate is associated with genetic damage (mutations), including chromosomal aberrations, even at doses below those recognized as "safe.” The herbicide acts as a potent endocrine disruptor, which can affect future reproductive health of young boys and girls. "

But it gets worse, Quaker's wasn't the only culprit. Nine other oat products including my beloved Bob's Red Mill's oats were also found to contain glyphosate. When I first moved to Tainan I had bought and consumed several batches of Australia Fine Oat Flakes, also on the list. Fortunately my daughter hates oatmeal (oh how I tried!).

Kudos for Taiwan.They have a zero tolerance for glyphosate and for GMO products. In Taiwan all GMO products must be clearly labeled (which is one of five points in their Food Act Amendments). As of December, 2015 Taiwan legislated all GMO products  banned from public schools, beginning the coming semester (January 2016). It raised each child's meal by 15NT and lower income schools had to be given more financial support, but its a cultural consensus, especially here in Yilan to eat whats grown locally. 

Remember glyphosate isn't just found in breakfast cereals. It was found in 15 German beers, conventional (non-organic wines), and women's hygienic products, like bleached cotton tampons. Even scarier it shows up in breast milk. The farmers that use it and the surrounding countryside are the real victims, in terms of still births, contaminated ground water and depletion of soil nutrients.

Fight the power Taiwan! Stay green. If the US government chooses to turn a deaf ear to global scientists, maybe they will listen to smart consumers. 


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