By Dr. Mercola
Scientists in Norway have released results from experimental feeding studies carried out over a 10-year period, and the verdict is in: If you want to avoid obesity, then avoid eating genetically engineered (GE) corn, corn-based products, and animals that are fed a diet of GE grain.
As reported by Cornucopia.org1, the project also looked at the effects on organ changes, and researchers found significant changes that affected weight gain, eating behaviors, and immune function.
How Genetically Engineered Corn and Soy Can Wreak Havoc on Your Health
According to the featured article2:
“The results show a positive link between GE corn and obesity. Animals fed a GE corn diet got fatter quicker and retained the weight compared to animals fed a non-GE grain diet. The studies were performed on rats, mice, pigs and salmon, achieving the same results.
... Researchers found distinct changes to the intestines of animals fed GMOs compared to those fed non-GMOs. This confirms other studies done by US researchers. Significant changes occurred in the digestive systems of the test animals’ major organs including the liver, kidneys, pancreas, genitals and more.”
Their findings (which were published July 11, 2012 in Norway by Forskning.no, an online news source devoted to Norwegian and international research3) showed that animals fed genetically engineered Bt corn ate more, got fatter, and were less able to digest proteins due to alterations in the micro-structure of their intestines.
They also suffered immune system alterations. The impaired ability to digest proteins may be of particular concern as this can have far-reaching implications for your health. If your body cannot digest proteins, your body will be less able to produce amino acids, which are necessary building blocks for proper cell growth and function.
As noted by Cornucopia.org:
“This not only may relate to a rise in obesity, but to increases in many modern diseases. These diseases include diabetes, digestive disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (ADD), autoimmune diseases, sexual dysfunction, sterility, asthma, COPD and many more.
...[Lead author] Professor Krogdahl explains: “It has often been claimed that the new genes in genetically modified foods can’t do any damage because all genes are broken down beyond recognition in the gut. Our results show the contrary; that genes can be taken up across the intestinal wall, is transferred to the blood and is left in the blood, muscle and liver in large chunks so that they can be easily recognized... The biological impact of this gene transfer is unknown.”
Bt Toxin Found in Blood of Women and Fetuses
This is not the first time scientists have revealed significant biological impacts and related health problems as a result of eating a diet of genetically engineered foods. More often than not, unless the research is tainted by industry ties, studies into the effects of genetically engineered foods demonstrate that it is anything but safe. This isn’t so surprising when you consider that simple logic will tell you it’s probably not wise to consume a plant designed to produce its own pesticide, for example.
So-called “Bt corn” is equipped with a gene from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which produces Bt-toxin—a pesticide that breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them. This pesticide-producing corn entered the food supply in the late 1990's, and over the past decade, the horror stories have started piling up.
Monsanto and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) swore that the toxin would only affect insects munching on the crop. The Bt-toxin, they claimed, would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and would not have any impact on animals and humans. The biotech companies have doggedly insisted that Bt-toxin doesn't bind or interact with the intestinal walls of mammals, and therefore humans.
The featured research proves all such claims false.
Prior findings have already shown that Bt corn is anything but innocuous to the human system. Just last year, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood4 of:
- 93 percent of pregnant women tested
- 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies, and
- 67 percent of non-pregnant women
Bt-toxin breaks open the stomach of insects. Could it similarly be damaging the integrity of your digestive tract? If Bt-toxins can damage the intestinal walls of newborns and young children, the passage of undigested foods and toxins into the blood from the digestive tract could be devastating to their future health. Scientists speculate that it may lead to autoimmune diseases and food allergies. Furthermore, since the blood-brain barrier is not developed in newborns, toxins may enter the brain causing serious cognitive problems. Some healthcare practitioners and scientists are convinced that this one mechanism for autism.
If Bt genes are colonizing the bacteria living in the digestive tract of North Americans, we might expect to see an increase in gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and childhood learning disorders since the advent of Bt crops in 1996, and that’s exactly what’s being reported. For example, between 1997 and 2002 the number of hospitalizations related to allergic reactions to food increased by a whopping 265 percent. One out of 17 children now has some form of food allergy and allergy rates are rising.
Genetically Engineered Foods Trigger Adverse Immune System Responses
There’s plenty of evidence showing that the Bt-toxin produced in genetically modified Bt crops like corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals andtriggers immune system responses. For example, in government-sponsored research in Italy5, mice fed Monsanto's Bt corn showed a wide range of immune responses, such as:
- Elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, which are typically associated with allergies and infections
- An increase in cytokines, which are associated with allergic and inflammatory responses. The specific cytokines (interleukins) that were found to be elevated are also higher in humans who suffer from a wide range of disorders, from arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, to MS and cancer
- Elevated T cells (gamma delta), which are increased in people with asthma, and in children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis, and connective tissue diseases.
Rats fed another of Monsanto's Bt corn varieties called MON 863, also experienced an activation of their immune systems, showing higher numbers of basophils, lymphocytes, and white blood cells6. These can indicate possible allergies, infections, toxins, and various disease states including cancer. There were also signs of liver and kidney toxicity.
USDA Clears Roundup Ready Sugar Beets
So-called “Roundup Ready” crops are another type of genetically engineered crops. While Bt crops contain a gene that produces a pesticide inside the plant itself, Roundup Ready crops are designed to withstand otherwise lethal topical doses of glyphosate—a broad spectrum herbicide, and the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup as well as hundreds of other products.
This way, the crop survives while all weeds are theoretically eliminated from the field. I say ‘theoretically’ because the overuse of the herbicide has led to the rapid development of glyphosate-resistant superweeds. It's estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant, and the superweeds are showing no signs of stopping.
Roundup Ready crops have also been linked to serious health problems—particularly relating to fertility and birth defects—as has glyphosate itself, which is why the latest news regarding the deregulation of Roundup Ready sugar beets is all the more disappointing.
A number of organizations challenged the USDA approval of Roundup Ready (RR) sugar beets in 2008, arguing that the beets would contaminate related organic and non-GE crops such as table beets and chard. Further, they said that the pesticide-resistant beets would increase pesticide impacts on the environment and worsen the current epidemic of pesticide-resistant superweeds.
A lawsuit was filed against the USDA in 2009 for failure to complete an Environmental Impact Study. A federal judge agreed, temporarily suspending all planting of RR sugar beets. The suspension was later overridden by the USDA, ostensibly to prevent a sugar shortage. After a number of additional legal twists and turns, the USDA has now announced its decision to deregulate Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetically modified sugar beets7. According to a July 19 press release by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)8:
“After completing both a thorough environmental impact statement and plant pest risk assessment, holding three public meetings and considering and analyzing thousands of comments regarding its analyses, APHIS has determined that, from the standpoint of plant pest risk, Roundup Ready sugarbeets are as safe as traditionally bred sugarbeets.”
GM Companies Threaten Food Security and Sovereignty
A landmark speech delivered during the 2011 SEMEAR conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on how genetically modified (GM) seed companies threaten food security and food sovereignty has resulted in a call to action by an unlikely source who is a key player in the soy industry. Pierre Patriat, President of APROSMAT, the association of seed producers of Mato Grosso, Brazil, does not oppose genetically engineered (GE) crops, but he does recognize the unprecedented threat to food security that GM seeds pose.
Saying that the GM industry is rapidly taking away Brazilian farmers’ freedom of choice, he asked for “immediate mobilization and action on the part of concerned industry members, government, lawmakers, farmers, and civil society to avert the threat to food sovereignty posed by the GM industry’s control of markets through their patented seeds,” according to a recent report by GM Watch9.
In his speech, which I recommend reading in its entirety to learn more, Patriat wisely says:
“... [T]oday, people think everything can be resolved through the seed. If soybean rust occurs they say, "Just wait, this can be resolved with genetic engineering!" A problem with nematodes? - "We'll change the seed directly!" They want to solve all problems that way... But as long as we have alternative solutions we don't need genetic engineering to get rid of all problems.
Today we have a big problem with nematodes for a simple reason, not least because of the lack of a medium-term agricultural policy. There is a solution known to every agronomist: Crop rotation! That is how weeds and pests are weakened. It is so simple! Another way is soil management and measures to correct the soil - fundamental things nobody pays attention to anymore because everything has to be resolved through the seed.
No one does rotation any more - everyone does succession [planting same crop in succession]. These are problems that are not resolved by biotechnology. The man who is going to spend 150-200 Brazilian dollars per hectare would do much better to invest it in the [quality of the] land. The profitability in the medium term will be much better for sure. This does not mean that constant seed improvement will not bring solutions. But we ought to cooperate and define the base for new regulations, so that everyone may collaborate harmoniously without abusing their economic power.
Because today there are no brakes on the abuse of economic power over seed, and even worse, this affects the sovereignty of a country, because it is a matter of food security and food security is national security.”
The issue of food sovereignty is certainly not restricted to Brazil. It’s becoming a serious threat to every nation on this planet as genetically engineered crops spread. These seeds are owned by private companies, and it’s imperative to understand that once a country allows GE crops to monopolize their agricultural sector, it becomes completely beholden to and dependent upon a corporation for the ability to grow food and feed its citizens!
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.