Five GMO Facts That May Surprise You

Last Saturday I was honored to participate in the March Against Monsanto, a global march protesting genetically modified organisms (GMOs). I confess I’ve started and stopped this article multiple times since then. My desire to share truths about GMOs is so strong I had to resist writing a book on the subject. This post shares information designed to introduce you to the dangers of GMOs and to provide additional educational resources. I was surprised Saturday by how many people knew little about GMOs but were anxious to learn as much as they could. The following facts will hopefully inspire you to learn more and to make avoiding GMOs a priority:

  1. GMOs are banned or tightly restricted in over 60 other countries due to safety concerns, yet are not even labeled in the US. Countries includingAnti-GMO LogoJapan, Australia and all countries in the European Union have either banned genetically modified organisms or strictly limit their use. Don’t you think it’s odd other countries are concerned enough to ban or restrict GMOs, yet the US has done nothing? All of those countries also require genetically modified foods to be labeled. End result? Food manufacturers who bombard the market with foods containing GMOs in the US don’t use genetically modified ingredients in countries where their use is restricted.
  2. According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, 75 to 80 percent of processed food in the US contains genetically modified ingredients. Many people eat GMOs in every bite of food throughout the day yet are completely unaware they are consuming genetic code that was forced into a combination which nature never intended.
  3. When plants are genetically modified, they have DNA snips from other species inserted into their genetic strand. This means genetic code from bacteria, fish, insects, goats and other organisms are commonly inserted into plant genes. Combining genetic code which nature never intended to be joined together requires the use of radiation and strong chemicals. The biotech companies often insist this genetic manipulation is the same thing as creating hybrid crops. The scientific process and manipulation used is in no way similar.The inserted gene snips typically contain genetic code intended to cause one specific change; however, genetic sequencing is so complex that the gene snips contain genetic code that could create large numbers of unknown and unanticipated effects. We are already beginning to see the effects of this in rising rates of chronic disease, food allergies, digestive disorders, etc. 
  4. Foods containing GMOs are not tested for safety. The companies who produce the seeds are required to do their own “safety” testing on the seeds, but no long term testing has been done on how the foods grown from genetically modified seeds affect human health. Two recent studies showed genetically modified organisms negatively affect health in serious ways. (See References for links to those studies.) Most of the biotech companies selling genetically modified seeds require purchasers to sign an agreement stating they will not use the seeds for scientific study. This ensures NO outside agencies can conduct external safety studies. Not allowing the seeds to be subjected to scientific study would appear to be criminal, but is completely legal under current US laws.
  5. In the years preceding the introduction of genetically modified seeds into our food system, FDA scientists tasked with studying the seeds repeatedly warned the genetic manipulation could create unpredictable, irreversible side effects including increased levels of food allergies, toxic overload, nutritional depletion and new diseases. We have seen every one of their warnings come true, yet their insistence that long-term safety studies were needed was ignored. According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, “The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) doesn’t think [GMOs are safe]. The Academy reported that ‘Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,’ including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM asked physicians to advise patients to avoid GM foods.” Between 1997 and 2007, the incidence of food allergies in the US rose 25%, while the incidence of allergic reaction to food requiring hospitalization rose 256%. It is important to note the most rapidly rising allergens – soy and corn – are also the most prevalent GMO crops. Newer studies are proving the connection between GMOs and food allergies, but much more study is needed.

What You Can Do

Here are my top four recommendations for how to combat genetically modified foods:

  1. Educate yourself: Use the links shown below to learn as much as you can about GMOs and then dedicate yourself to educating others
  2. Stop buying them. Your dollars are votes. If you refuse to purchase products containing GMOs, companies will be forced to stop selling them. Use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide as a reference. Avoiding GMOs should include buying organic meat and  produce and strictly buying grass-fed beef. (Most animals raised for slaughter in the US are also fed GMO crops. One cannot avoid GMOs while eating non-organic, mainstream meat.)
  3. Let your legislators know their GMO voting record will influence your decision to vote for them.
  4. When you see a notification about a petition to demand labeling or restrict usage, sign in. Online petitions are successful in growing numbers.

GMO Resources

I recommend the following resources for additional education:

References:

GMO Dangers, Institute for Responsible Technology

GMO Crops: Top Ten Facts and Figures

Intestinal and Peripheral Immune Response to MON810 Ingestion in Weaning and Old Mice

Food Allergies Among US Children: Trends

Everything You Have to Know About Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods

Ten Facts About GM Foods, Greenpeace

Scientist Speaks Out on the Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods

GMO Facts

Will Genetically Modified Foods Make You Sick?

GMO Myths and Truths

The Effect of GMOs on Food Allergy

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Dr. Pamela Reilly is a Naturopathic Physician dedicated to helping people improve their health and eliminate symptoms using natural, integrative methods. She has over 25 years of experience and has helped men, women and children improve their health using a holistic, client-centered focus. She sees clients in Indianapolis, does house calls, and also conducts consultations via Skype or telephone. Please feel free to contact her or visit her Consultations page for more information. Dr. Pamela speaks nationwide on a wide variety of health topics and welcomes speaking invitations.

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