Dirtier than the Dirty Dozen: What Parents Need to Know about GMO

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This article is intended for all moms and dads who have heard of GMO’s but just haven’t taken the time to figure out why they matter. It is for those of you whose children eat bread, crackers, or cereal that are not certified organic. It is for those of you who have never thought twice about what brand of corn chips you have in your kitchen. If this does not describe you, then stop reading now.

You may have heard of the “dirty dozen” list of most contaminated produce. You may buy your children organic strawberries and apples. But pesticide residues are rapidly becoming the least of my worries.

There is a category of toxic foods that has been creeping into our food supply since the mid 1990’s. The safety of these foods has never been proven. They are called GMOs: Genetically Modified Organisms.

GMOs are made by forcing DNA from one organism (such as bacteria or viruses) into the DNA of another (such as soy, corn, or canola). This creates a food never before in the human food supply.

Two of the most prevalent genetically modified foods are soy and corn. They were introduced to the market in 1994 and 1996 respectively. How old were you then? I was 18 years old. And over the ensuing 18 years, the prevalence of these GMO crops has grown exponentially.

Currently more than 88% of all corn grown in the United States and 94% of all soy is genetically modified. This means that if you or your children are eating any foods containing corn or soy ingredients, you are eating GMOs.

But so what?

There is no requirement for long-term safety studies on either animals or humans before GMO foods appear on our grocery store shelves. Despite this laxity in regulation, the research that is available is enough to make anyone clear half of their pantry directly into the dumpster.

Here are a few things that we know about GMOs:

  • GMO foods contain proteins not found in natural foods that trigger allergic reactions. In fact soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK after GMO soy was introduced1.
  • GMO foods may also make you allergic to other foods. Mice fed genetically modified peas started reacting to a variety of other foods1.
  • The Bt toxin produced by GMO corn acts as a pesticide by puncturing holes in the stomachs of insects. It is now known to kill human kidney cells2.
  • This same Bt toxin produced in every cell of GMO corn has been found in the majority of pregnant women’s blood tested3.
  • GMO corn contains startling levels of formaldehyde4. Formaldehyde is known to cause cancer.
  • The only human study on GMO foods showed that genetically modified DNA could transfer to human gut bacteria and continue to function1. That’s right.  Our gut bacteria can become genetically modified. We do not know if this is ever reversible.
  • GMO foods have higher levels of pesticide and herbicide residues, especially the most commonly used herbicide, Roundup®5.
  • Roundup® cannot be washed off the food. It is sprayed on the fields and taken up into the edible parts of the plants.
  • Roundup® kills beneficial gut bacteria in humans6.
  • Roundup® may be linked with inflammatory bowel, obesity, depression, cancer, and even autism5.

If you want to eliminate genetically modified foods from your child’s diet, you have to start by trashing all of the non-organic processed foods including Cheerios®, Goldfish®, Capri-Sun®, and even Nature Valley® Granola Bars. A partial list of GMO ingredients commonly found in kids’ food is here:

  • Sugar (cane sugar and organic sugar are ok)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup / Corn Syrup / Other Corn-derived ingredients
  • Soybean oil / Soy protein / Other Soy-derived ingredients
  • Canola oil
  • Vegetable oil or hydrogenated vegetable oil

Other ways to avoid GMOs is to purchase the following:

  • Certified Organic products
  • Products with the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal

Today our children are part of a great experiment by biotech companies. They are the first generation to be born and raised on genetically modified food. What is their fate? I would rather not wait to see.

For more comprehensive information, please visit the following websites:

References:

  1. Smith, J.M. (2007) Genetic Roulette. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing. Pp. 50, 56, 130.
  2. Sirinathsinghii, Eva. “Bt Toxin Kills Human Kidney Cells” ISIS March 14, 2012. http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Bt_Toxin_Kills_Human_Kidney_Cells.php
  3. Aris, Aziz and Samuel Leblanc. “Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.” Reprod Toxicol. 2011 May;31(4):528-33. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890623811000566
  4. Honeycutt, Zen. “Study Reveals GMO corn to be highly toxic.” April 15, 2013. http://www.momsacrossamerica.com/stunning_corn_comparison_gmo_versus_non_gmo
  5. Samsell, Anthony and Stephanie Seneff. “Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases.” Entropy 2013, 15(4), 1416-1463. http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416
  6. Smith, Jeffrey. “Roundup Damages Beneficial Gut Bacteria, Promotes Botulism and other Pathogens.” Spilling the Beans Newsletter May 8, 2013. http://www.responsibletechnology.org/posts/roundup-damages-beneficial-gut-bacteria/

48 thoughts on “Dirtier than the Dirty Dozen: What Parents Need to Know about GMO

  1. Pingback: 3 Things to Know about GMOs | Synthesis Chronicles

    • Hi Becky. To qualify for the certified organic label, a product cannot contain any ingredients derived from GMO seeds. This is relatively good assurance that the soy lecithin in organic processed food is non-GMO. BUT the certified organic label does not require any testing of the final product. If the soy is contaminated by GMO, it would not be detected. Only products with the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal are tested for contamination. So those are the safest bet.

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    • Hi Kristi – I do agree with you that there are many potential causes for allergies. But the author of the article you linked claims that genetic modification is a precise science, when in fact the process can result in many unpredictable results. A well-referenced discussion of this, including the topic of allergies can be found here: http://www.responsibletechnology.org/health-risks. My point is that these crops have not been sufficiently tested for safety. Especially when it comes to kids, I would rather err on the side of caution.

    • Bt as a pesticide is very different than the genetic modification in plants. The plant modification has been shown to be damaging to human cells, especially when combined with the RoundupReady genetic modification.

  3. I am incredibly surprised that you are making these claims with the references you have chosen. These “scientific resources” you have to back your “claims” would be considered unacceptable in the medical field. I suggest you research the benefits and downsides of genetically modified crops (in respected and peer review jouranls) before you make such statements that others will unfortunately believe.

    • Hi Katie. I realize that this is a controversial subject on which we disagree. While not all of my references are from peer-reviewed journals, that does not make their science invalid. I have been following the research on GMOs closely for the past several years. I am convinced that the mounting evidence of their health and environmental risks is enough for us to take seriously. The fact that the safety of these crops has never been proven cannot be denied. We have no data on the long-term effects of chronic exposure to GMOs in the diet. My point is that when it comes to our children, I would rather err on the side of caution.

      • I wrote up a paper looking at Bt and RR genetic modifications of food, and included many peer reviewed published articles. There is real science out there, but unfortunately much of what is posted online is secondhand, not directly from the research. There are genuine risks in this technology, and the concerns should not be pushed aside. My paper is here if you are interested in taking a look. http://mudpiesandcranberryteagoallergenfree.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-long-time-coming.html

      • Jenn – thank you so much for sharing this article. I teach on this topic and try to read as much about it as I can. I only scanned your article briefly but I will go back to read it carefully. It looks like you have done extensive research and really put some of the pieces of this puzzle together! Sad as it is. But thanks again for sharing!

  4. Organic is expensive for everyone, the farmers on up to the consumer. Mostly because the farmer gets dozens of hoops to jump through, fees to pay, and loads of paperwork. So our farm doesn’t get certified organic, but we do raise non-GMO corn which we then feed to our cattle. We rarely use antibiotics (as in, we haven’t needed to in years, but will if the occasion calls for it). So we have a market around here who want cattle and corn that are non-GMO and organic. But since we don’t have to pay the hefty annual certifying fees, we can sell at a much lower price. All this to say, if you have farmers in your area, you can contact them directly and let them know what you are looking for, in cattle, corn, or wheat, and most of the time they can at least point you to someone who has it, if they themselves don’t

    • Katherine,
      Thanks for sharing. It is true that there are plenty of farming and ranching operations that are raising healthy, organic crops and animals that go unnoticed for their hard work because of the expense and hoops they would have to jump through to be certified. Worse yet are the ‘cons’ who label their animal products as ‘free range’ or ‘grass fed’ when they are actually using ‘tricks’ to get around standards. We raise bison on large, beautiful acres of pasture where they have full range of choice for what satisfies their nutritional needs. The meat is tender, delicious and HEALTHY, but most people don’t research local ranching operations to find out what is available. The cost of raising these animals is much higher than the cost for raising cattle because of the simple fact that they mature at a much slower rate, and they require more substantial facilities to handle them properly. The benefits of the product are far worth the higher price. Added cost of any kind of certification would only hike the price of our meat products, so I suggest people research local farming operations.

  5. Pingback: A new plant-based egg replacement product funded by Bill Gates and Paypal billionaire Peter Thiel was being launched at some Whole Foods stores in California : Not on the label – “Made With GMO Canola Oil” | Family Survival Protocol - Mi

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