Last month after spending the day in an average supermarket doing product research on GMOs, I was so depressed that when it came time towrite my GoodFood World article I just stared at the computer screen for an entire day and couldn’t write a word. I felt like an inconsequential drop in the ocean wanting to become part of a tsunami in order to right our corrupt, unhealthy and unjust food system.
Out of utter grief over the baby-food aisle because they included GMO formula and baby’s first GMO “treats,” I could approach the topic only one way – through the distance of satire. The article, It’s 2012, Welcome to your GMOcery, went viral and I felt buoyed for a few days.
But I’m left with the gnawing and imperative need to answer a question that a friend’s son asked his Mom after reading my article: ”What’s so bad about GMO’s?” It is the “PC” organic food party line to say “NO” to GMO’s, but I suspect like my friend’s (brilliant) son, there are many many people who don’t really know why GMO foods may be dangerous. Is it axiomatic that genetic advances are all harmful? So I’m writing this article for those who may not know the deeper 101 on GMO’s… with resources for further investigation. If you already know this information, I hope you’ll pass it along to others who’ll benefit.
I also think the GMO topic is the broadest reaching issue on our food table today because it intersects with EVERY other issue of our food system: small farmers vs. Big Ag; corporate bullying by the 1% Monsanto Monopoly who owns our country’s seeds; revolving door FDA appointments; politics of government farm subsidies and subsidized school lunches; food injustice; worker safety rights; increase in food allergy, cancer, and illness; animal health and welfare practices; increasing air pollution from greenhouse gases caused by cows eating grains instead of grass – with GMO corn being that grain; blatant obfuscation through FDA refusal to require labeling GMO ingredients present in the 70% of ALL PROCESSED PACKAGED FOODS ON SUPERMARKET SHELVES; FDA condoning industry testing of their own products – for example, by Monsanto – rather than REQUIRING neutral party testing; and the lowest world standards of any Western Country regarding GMO testing, safety, and labeling requirements on behalf of the public interest, their citizens.
WHAT IS A GMO FOOD?
According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, Genetically Modified Organisms are “the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal.” GM foods were first put on the market in 1996.
Now I’m all for being open to the possibility that maybe there’s a continuum of “GMO-ness,” that perhaps changing the DNA of a plant to have some new property may not be as bad as changing HOW a plant absorbs and survives poisons, becomes nutritionally deficient, messes up the animals eating those poisoned plants, and then effects the humans ingesting those plants and animals.
In this article, I am only referring to the transgenic plants corn, soy, canola and cotton, and their major creator and seller, Monsanto Corporation. Alfalfa, the most important crop eaten by the herbivore animals that we eat, is also a recently approved GMO crop but I’m leaving it out of this article for the sake of brevity! Sugar beets, the primary source of table sugar in the US is another GMO crop, but again, not the focus here.
Common to ALL the above mentioned crops, however, is the use of the ubiquitous pesticide today called Roundup made by Monsanto Corporation. Its active ingredient – glyphosate – (invented by Stoffer Chemical Company in 1964) is sprayed on the fields to kill weeds so more crops can be grown – at least that’s the sales pitch. GMO technology allows the glyphosate to kill the weeds but “not harm” the crops.
Most pesticides and herbicides are metal chelators which means they combine with soil elements such as calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc, so that the plants can’t utilize them as necessary enzymes, thus killing the plants. Glyphosate is a “special,” highly potent chelator because it can combine with ANY positively charged metal (known as a cation). Unfortunately, healthy organisms and bacteria in the soil are also destroyed in the process.
GMO foods that are “Roundup Ready” (RR) have an additional gene “fired” into the seed giving the RR plant an alternative, though less effective, pathway to use the chelated minerals as enzymes. This allows the plant to survive with Roundup while killing the surrounding weeds. As glyphosate enters the soy or corn plant it becomes systemic within the plant hindering its natural growth.
Dr. Don M. Huber, Emeritus Professor of Plant Pathology at Purdue University, has been a scientist studying plant diseases in the U.S. and around the world for 50 years. He has a 41-year military career as a retired Colonel, evaluating natural and man-made biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks. (His CV is lengthy and outstanding; you can see for yourself!)
“Glyphosate accumulates in the growth points, in the root tips, shoot tips, legume nodules, all the reproductive points… [and] remains in the plant doing its chelating job… The Glyphosate in that Roundup Ready plant is still having an impact on 25 or 26 other enzymes within that plant because it’s chelating or immobilizing those cations that are required as the keys to turn on the functions in the plant.”
This process disrupts the mechanism which allows the plant to take up and utilize all its nutrients from the soil. A half ounce of Roundup per acre can result in a 50-80% reduction in mineral nutrients. Because necessary soil micro organisms are also being killed by the Roundup, and nutrient uptake and utilization is significantly impaired, we’re also seeing an increase in 40 managed plant diseases.
Alarmingly, farm veterinarians around the country have reported various problems with animals raised on GMO feed. Remember, between 85-90% of all corn and soy grown in America today is RR, most of which is used to feed the animals which we eat and get our dairy from. The rest of the GMO corn and soy finds its way nefariously, UNLABELED, into processed foods, for example, high fructose corn syrup and soy isolates.
Glyphosate in the feed is killing the healthy intestinal flora – lactobacillus – inside the gut of animals, causing chronic botulism, which of course then gets treated with more antibiotics in the feed. Glyphosate moves through the animal into the manure and helps create even more toxic soil as the manure is then used as fertilizer.
Since RR soybeans have been introduced, there has been a marked increase in infertility in animals. Reproductive failures in cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, and poultry have increased along with increasing miscarriages. Age acceleration is another “result.” Two year old cows can look like they are 8-10 years old!
No human studies on gut ecology and GMO consumption have yet been done, but healthy gut flora is essential to the proper absorption of nutrients and overall healthy constitution and immune system.
Interestingly enough, when asked which toxin he would prefer to use if he had to make a choice between two evils, Dr. Huber says, he’d “take DDT over glyphosate any day.”
Here’s another aspect of GMOs to keep in mind. Back in May 2011 I wrote an article called “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” where I provided a link to the TedX talk by Robyn O’Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth. Here’s what Kenneth Bock, M.D., FAAP, FACN, CNS – author of Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies – wrote in the forward of her book:
“Robyn O’Brien’s compelling examination of the effects that recent changes in our food supply are having on our kids cannot be ignored. Genetically modified foods lead to the possibility of changing protein structures, whereby they are recognized as foreign to our immune systems. The immune system then attacks these foreign substances, but unfortunately may also overreact and attack the body’s own cells, violating its primary credo, which is differentiating between self and non-self. This attack on self, initiated by these “foreign proteins,” then leads to all types of autoimmune disorders and dysfunction.”
And as O’Brien wrote on page 2, “One out of every three U.S. kids currently suffers from allergies, asthma, ADHD, or autism, and the number of children with peanut allergies actually doubled between 1997 and 2002.”
It may turn out to be a coincidence, but remember, that the Fantastic Four GMO shapeshifters (corn, soy, canola and cotton) started infiltrating the average American processed food diet in 1996!
AND BY THE WAY…
It appears that RR crops are turning out to be no more productive than non-RR crops because the weeds are evolving to survive Roundup and the RR crops are becoming more diseased. Meanwhile, farmers are beholden to buy their seed from Monsanto every year because its patented, and Monsanto has been suing farmers who don’t want to use RR crops but whose fields have been contaminated by windblown GMO pollen from neighboring RR fields.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
So when I read about the uproar over the possibility of Walmart selling Monsanto “direct-to-consumer” corn on the cob in the produce section, I am heartened on the one hand that there’s a backlash against them being GMOs, and fearful on the other because EVERYONE NEEDS TO REALIZE THAT THIS ONE ITEM REPRESENTS ONLY THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG!
Monsanto may have to acquiesce to public outrage over eating whole corn on the cob that’s been genetically modified. But make no mistake about it… they’d be VERY happy to have you, Dorothy, PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE GMOs BEHIND THE CURTAIN. And behind the curtain is where the truth and greatest dangers lie, because their span and depth are nearly omnipresent in our modern American standard diet.
For as long as we’ve been kept in the dark by Monsanto and our complicit government, we’ve been asleep. Our monstrous roar of outrage must be heard, seen and felt. It will take all the Ruby Slippers we can awaken to have our clicking heels bring us back to a home where America stands for truth and justice… for all.
“When future historians write about our time, they’re not going to write about the tons of chemical that we did or didn’t apply; when it comes to glyphosate they’re going to write about our willingness to sacrifice our children and jeopardize our ecosystems by threatening and jeopardizing the very basis of our existence in that sustainability of our agriculture.”
Dr. Don M. Huber
Part 2 Interview with Dr. Mercola
The Unhealthy Truth, Robyn O’Brien (Three Rivers Press, 2010)
- Genetically Modified Food List & Non-GMO Shopper’s Guide
- EATING – a documentary
- 11 Steps for GMO Eradication: Help Grow the “GEM”
- Just Say No To GMO’s!
- The Threat of Food Irradiation and Live Viruses
- 1 million lbs. of food a year on 3 acres, 10,000 fish, 500 yards compost…
- PART 2 – How 1 MILLION Pounds Of Organic Food Can Be Produced On 3 Acres
- GMO COMPASS
- Corn Allergen List
- Grass-Fed vs. Feedlot Beef – What’s the difference?
- Eatwild.com – Your source for safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles.