How Can We Be Sure Our Food Is Safe?

By Joy Danzig

Is the food we buy safe to eat?  Is food containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) really safe for consumption?  Are organically grown foods worth the additional cost?  Why aren’t food producers required to disclose GMO related information on food labels?

There is an on-going debate around the subject of GMOs.  GMO proponents emphasize the advantages of GMOs, e.g. increased crop yields, resistance to herbicides and pesticides.  Skeptics question whether such “benefits” are worth the trade-offs.  A significant factor in the debate centers around crops genetically modified to be impervious to glyphosate pesticides, such as Roundup.

The Background

Characterization of a genetic modification

An organism is genetically modified when genetic material from another organism is injected into its DNA. Both organisms are typically unrelated to each other.  Genetic engineers must force the DNA from one organism into another, because of natural barriers typically prevent transfer of DNA.  This is done by using viruses or bacteria to “infect” animal or plant cells with new DNA, or by firing the foreign DNA into a target cell with a special gun.

The rationale for growing GM crops is herbicides, such as Roundup, control weeds on a large scale. and the crops had to resist the herbicide to flourish.  Monsanto developed “Roundup Ready” seeds to sell to farmers.  Unlike traditionally cultivated seeds, farmers must purchase GMO modified seeds annually.

Monsanto’s Monopoly

By 2007, Monsanto established a virtual monopoly.  Its American Seeds, Inc. sold the most crop seeds in the United States.  The biochemical industry claimed GM crops, easily grown on a large scale, would provide enough food for ever-growing worldwide demand.  Critics say global food production is sufficient, but distribution is inadequate.  As with other commodities, corrupted agents disrupted the distribution of food.

As weeds mutate, growing stronger, resisting Roundup, they require more powerful, more toxic herbicides. A similar pattern occurs in insects, requiring more powerful, toxic pesticides.

Biotech companies, however, have not acknowledged the effects these modified foods have on human and animal consumption.  A GM Monsanto corn was found to have high concentrations of a neurotoxin.  Monsanto withdrew an application for its approval in Europe in 2009, after regulators raised safety questions.  No such withdrawal happened in the United States. Crops most often modified are soy, corn, canola (largely Canadian), sugar beets and alfalfa.  GMO soy, corn and alfalfa, used as animal feed, have resulted in GMO-contaminated meat and milk.  GM soy and corn derivatives contain additives in foods commonly consumed.

Concern Is Growing

The film “Modified” depicts an avid gardener’s concern that Canada and the United States do not require GMO labels on foods with GMO additives.  Worldwide, 64 countries require GMO labeling.  Her daughter contacted Health Canada repeatedly.  Sadly, the agency didn’t respond.  Sustainable Rossmoor featured the film in Rossmoor on Nov. 27, 2018.  In case you missed it, here’s a link: http://www.modifiedthefilm.com

Annie Taylor, a biology major at Middlebury College in Vermont, investigated Monsanto’s apparent evasion of regulatory oversight.  She attributes some of Monsanto’s success to the “revolving door” of employment between Monsanto and agencies regulating its products.  The regulatory agencies include: the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Notably, the Federal Government invalidated Vermont’s GMO labeling law, effective July 1, 2016.  The Federal Government required all states abide by its guidelines, which are confusing and inconsistent.  They also substitute the term “bioengineered” (BE) for “genetically modified” (GM).  Taylor’s paper, “The Evolution of Monsanto” by can be found on Middlebury’s Political Ecology of GMOs blog site: http://sites.middlebury.edu/politicalecologyofgmos/

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), based in the United States, recently published information concerning Roundup (primarily glyphosate).  EWG reported finding glyphosate in virtually all non-organic oat-containing foods.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined glyphosate is a likely cause of cancer. Information about the effects of genetically modified foods on human and animal health is growing, and documentation linking GM crops and chronic diseases is growing. For EWG’s website: https://www.ewg.org

Medical Concerns

Recently, physicians linked a growing number of diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and other digestive disorders, to GM foods.  Children are especially vulnerable.  Researchers also report dangerous food allergies, asthma, eczema, neurodevelopmental diseases, such as autistic spectrum disorder, and obesity.

Developing internal organs in children are more susceptible to damage

In a 2018 GMO Science article, “We Can Turn Children’s Health Around,” Dr. Michelle Perro, an integrative (holistic) pediatrician practicing for over 37 years, wrote, “A staggering 1 in 2 American children now has a potentially lifelong disease. For the first time in modern history, children will be less healthy than their parents and will most likely live shorter lives.”  To access the GMO Science website: https://www.gmoscience.org

In 2017, Dr. Perro and medical anthropologist Vincanne Adams co-authored, “What is Making Our Children Sick? How Industrial Food is Causing an Epidemic of Chronic Illness and What Parents (and Doctors) Can Do About It.”  For more information about Dr. Perro: https://www.gordonmedical.com/team/michelle-perro-m-d/

In an interview, available online, with Jeffrey Smith, author, filmmaker and founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology (https://responsibletechnology.org/), Perro details her treatments and their results in patients and their families.  Perro also explains how toxins in GM foods pass into the circulatory system, due to intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”).   From the circulatory system, toxins may pass through the blood-brain barrier, leading to mental and emotional syndromes.  Her first-line treatment is for families to maintain an organic diet, which often produces immediate relief.  Smith’s extensive research corroborates much of Dr. Perro’s findings.

With awareness regarding GM foods, often containing glyphosate, reading labels, choosing organic, we can achieve food safety for ourselves, family and friends.

Courtesy of Rossmoor News, January 2, 2019.  Email Joy Danzig at joyfuld@gmail.com

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