There are two types of research regarding GM (genetically modified) food -- independent science and corporate science. It's not hard to decide which one to trust.
By Dr. Mercola
Jeffrey Smith, featured in the video above, is the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, whose Campaign for Healthier Eating in America is designed to create the tipping point of consumer rejection of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) to rid them from our food supply. In this short but important video, he points out some of the most glaring problems with scientific research, and that is the discrepancies you get depending on the source of the funding.
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In terms of reliability, there's a big difference between:
- Corporate science, which tends to primarily favor and support corporate interests, and
- Independent science, performed without preconceived bias
As Smith points out, Monsanto, one of the primary players in the field of genetically modified (GM) foods, wants you to simply trust them because they're "experts" and their studies "prove" their GM foods are safe. But these same experts also told you PCB's, Agent Orange, and DDT was safe, and we now know those claims were far from accurate.
Why Profit-Motivated Research Cannot Be Trusted…
I've previously written several articles detailing the various methods employed to create desired, but false or misleading, outcomes in scientific studies. Such tactics include using:
- Inappropriate control groups
- The wrong statistical methods
- Incorrect detection methods
In the video, Smith gives some excellent examples of how Monsanto twisted their science to fit their own needs. For example, to "prove" that pasteurization destroys the bovine growth hormone (rBGH) left in milk from treated cows, their scientists pasteurized the milk 120 times longer than normal. Clearly, the results from that experiment in no way relates to the pasteurized milk sold on the market…
Simply withholding negative results is another common tactic.
Last year, I interviewed Shiv Chopra on this topic. Chopra is a former drug company insider and also worked for what is now Health Canada; the Canadian equivalent of the FDA. While producing a department ordered report on rBGH in 1997, called the Gaps Analysis Report, his team discovered that the trial data he'd requested from Monsanto nine years earlier had in fact been produced, but he had for some reason never been granted access to it, even though he was tasked with approving rBGH for use in Canada.
That research, performed by Monsanto, confirmed his fears, showing rBGH increased insulin-like growth factor in rats, increased thyroid activity, and produced ill effects in the testes.
Similarly, when Monsanto wanted to prove that their GM soy was substantially equivalent to non-GM soy, they left key data out of their study that showed the GM soy contained more than seven times the normal amount of a known allergen.
And, when they wanted to introduce their genetically modified high lysine corn, Monsanto claimed that has a history of safe use in the food industry because it's a naturally occurring protein in soil, and that therefore it will not pose a threat to health. However, an independent scientist decided to double check these facts and what he discovered was rather shocking. Based on the amount of lysine the average American would get from eating this high lysine corn, you'd have to consume 22,000 pounds of soil, every second, 24 hours a day, to get the same amount of lysine in your diet.
Talk about misleading!
Yet, they got away with it.
The Health Dangers of GM Soy and Corn
Genetically modified soy and corn are two of the most prevalent GM foods in the US food supply, and both have been linked to potentially serious health effects.
For example, one 2009 Brazilian study discovered that female rats fed GM soy for 15 months showed significant changes in their uterus and reproductive cycle, compared to rats fed organic soy or those raised without soy. This finding adds to a mounting body of evidence suggesting that GM foods can contribute to a number of reproductive disorders, including:
- Changes in reproductive hormones, such as excessive production of estrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone
- Damage to pituitary gland
- Retrograde menstruation, in which menstrual discharge travels backwards into the body rather than through the uterus, which can cause a disease known as endometriosis, which may lead to infertility. The disorder can also produce pelvic and leg pain, gastrointestinal problems, chronic fatigue, and a wide variety of other symptoms
- Testicular changes, including damaged sperm cells
Another disturbing study performed by Irina Ermakova with the Russian National Academy of Sciences, reported that more than half the babies from mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, while the death rate in the non-GM soy group was only 10 percent. Additionally, the babies in the GM group were smaller, and, worst of all, could not reproduce. In a telling coincidence, after Ermakova's feeding trials were completed, her laboratory started feeding all the rats in the facility a commercial rat chow using GM soy. Within two months, the infant mortality facility-wide reached 55 percent...
Unfortunately, you have no way of knowing whether the soy you're eating is genetically modified or not, because GM foods do not have to be labeled as such in the US. However, when you consider that 94 percent of all soy grown in the United States is genetically modified in one way or another, you can be virtually guaranteed that if a food product contains soy, it's probably genetically modified, unless it's labeled "100% USDA Organic."
The identical problem exists with GM corn, which accounts for about 88 percent of all corn grown in the United States. The safety of GM corn recently came under scrutiny again when a study published earlier this year discovered that Bt toxin, which is present in many GM crops, is now showing up in human blood!
Bt toxin makes crops toxic to pests, but industry has claimed that the toxin poses no danger to the environment or human health because the protein breaks down in the human gut. Alas, the presence of the toxin in human blood is evidence that this is yet another false assertion that doesn't hold up under closer scrutiny...The GM insecticide toxin is also showing up in fetal blood, which means it could have an impact on future generations, which is exactly what safety advocates like Smith have been warning about.
Your Health Depends on Your Food Choices
Hopefully, this information will cause you to think a little deeper about the process of the scientific model in general, and how to evaluate scientific evidence in particular. It's quite clear that in order to get closer to the truth, you need to look at independent studies done by independent scientists that aren't trying to prove a predetermined point of view, and aren't financially motivated to uphold any particular corporate claim of safety or efficacy.
Additionally, this information further highlights the need to carefully consider the foods you buy.
There's no doubt in my mind that if you want to maintain good health, you simply must educate yourself about how the foods you eat are produced. When you compare unadulterated, organic foods to conventional processed foods (many, if not most, of which contain GM ingredients), there's simply no question that one is real food, and the other is anything but!
Yes, you may spend more money on organic food today, but your payoff of good health should more than make up for it – and reduce your health care costs in the future.
I recently found a helpful aid, which shows that feeding your family organic food doesn't have to cost a fortune. The web site, 100 Days of Real food, offers a free 'real food meal plan' (for summer), using typical in-season organic foods. The meal plan includes both shopping lists and recipes for three square meals a day for an entire week for a family of four.
The estimated cost? About $167 per week.
To help you find organically-grown, wholesome food in your area, check out these helpful resources:
- Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
- Local Harvest-- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
- USDA Farmer's Markets database
- Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
- Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
- FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSA's, and markets near you.
How You Can Help Others to Avoid GMO Foods
Since the US government prevents the labeling of GM foods, it's imperative to educate yourself on what they are, and to help spread awareness.
First and foremost, avoid most processed foods, unless it's labeled USDA 100% Organic. You can also avoid GM foods that are not found in processed foods, if you know what to look for. There are currently eight genetically modified food crops on the market:
||Sugar from sugar beets
|Cottonseed (used in vegetable cooking oils)
||Some varieties of zucchini
|Canola (canola oil)
The free Non-GMO Shopping Guide is a great resource to help you determine which food brands and processed food products are GM-free. Print it out for yourself, and share it with everyone you know. If you feel more ambitious you can order the Non-GMO Shopping Tips brochure in bulk, and bring them to the grocery stores in your area. Talk to the owner or manager and get permission to post them in their store.
At this point, there's really no shortage of excellent information on the hazards of genetically modified foods. I highly recommend Jeffrey Smith's books, Seeds of Deception, and Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, which provide overwhelming evidence that GM foods are unsafe and should never have been introduced in the first place.
Additionally, there are a number of films and videos available for viewing, including:
Keep Fighting for Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods
While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November, by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. The field-of-play has now moved to the state of Washington, where the people's initiative 522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," will require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients. As stated on LabelitWA.org:
"Calorie and nutritional information were not always required on food labels. But since 1990 it has been required and most consumers use this information every day. Country-of-origin labeling wasn't required until 2002. The trans fat content of foods didn't have to be labeled until 2006. Now, all of these labeling requirements are accepted as important for consumers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also says we must know with labeling if our orange juice is from fresh oranges or frozen concentrate.
Doesn't it make sense that genetically engineered foods containing experimental viral, bacterial, insect, plant or animal genes should be labeled, too? Genetically engineered foods do not have to be tested for safety before entering the market. No long-term human feeding studies have been done. The research we have is raising serious questions about the impact to human health and the environment.
I-522 provides the transparency people deserve. I-522 will not raise costs to consumers or food producers. It simply would add more information to food labels, which manufacturers change routinely anyway, all the time. I-522 does not impose any significant cost on our state. It does not require the state to conduct label surveillance, or to initiate or pursue enforcement. The state may choose to do so, as a policy choice, but I-522 was written to avoid raising costs to the state or consumers."
Remember, as with CA Prop. 37, they need support of people like YOU to succeed. Prop. 37 failed with a very narrow margin simply because we didn't have the funds to counter the massive ad campaigns created by the No on 37 camp, led by Monsanto and other major food companies. Let's not allow Monsanto and its allies to confuse and mislead the people of Washington and Vermont as they did in California. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can, regardless of what state you live in.
- No matter where you live in the United States, please donate money to these labeling efforts through the Organic Consumers Fund.
- If you live in Washington State, please sign the I-522 petition. You can also volunteer to help gather signatures across the state.
- For timely updates on issues relating to these and other labeling initiatives, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
- Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the Washington initiative.