The adulteration and modification of some of the planet’s most widely used crops has changed our food landscape. Chemicals, preservatives, genetic modification and low-cost substitutions and fillers have wrecked meals that were once healthy for us. Stepping inside of a grocery store nowadays, we find ourselves in a dangerous and toxic new world. The introduction of genetically modified organisms into the food supply in the 1990s, coupled with rampant use of carcinogens such as aspartame and substitutes like high fructose corn syrup, set up the perfect ingredients to form a deadly concoction known as processed food. Sadly, this is what encompasses the average American diet.
Genetically modified foods, or GMOs, are now found in approximately 80% of all food in a typical grocery store. Corn is the most widely grown genetically modified crop next to soy and canola. And because corn is now the most common ingredient in American food products, it represents a major threat, especially as it relates to the wide-spread use of high fructose corn syrup.
Over the last few years, organic diets and fads have gained popularity. Mediterranean cuisines and vegan lifestyles have become mainstream. Being picky about the source of our food and its ingredients is not as fringe as it once was. Friends tell me, “I just don’t have the time or energy to sift through all of this jargon.” or “…eating healthy costs a lot!” Turns out that eating wisely doesn’t cost a lot more and in many cases, will save you money!
The Wake Up Call
I encounter people everyday that claim eating right just isn’t worth the effort. And I sympathize with them. When I was a police officer, fast-food ruled my diet. A few cheeseburgers in the drive-thru or convenience store food is what I lived on. But when I started to investigate just what I was eating, it startled me. Documentaries such as, Supersize Me and The World According to Monsanto made me stop and think. Articles about genetically modified soybeans and high-doses of antibiotics alarmed me. And so I dug into the mountains of research and evidence about the dangers of these ingredients with a fevered rush. Do you know what surprised me the most?
I discovered that all of these facts, all of this research and all of the warning signs were not front-page news. I certainly didn’t find this information on CNN or Fox News. I didn’t even find it in health magazines. Instead, I sifted through years and years of research papers, journals, science databases and from real sources; experienced, concerned farmers, nutritionists, scientists and other investigators in the field.
In the United States, reports on genetically modified organisms are rare. The mainstream media remains quiet on the dangers associated with consuming GMOs. They fail to cover stories such as a study from the Russian National Academy of Sciences that showed that more than half the offspring of mother rats fed GMO soy died within three weeks (compared to 9% from mothers fed natural soy). They neglect to report that one of the only human GMO feeding studies ever published showed that the foreign genes inserted into GMO food crops can transfer into the DNA of our gut bacteria. Why aren’t there more human studies? Because real science has ethics and rules against unnecessary risks and side effects to test subjects.
This means that long after we stop eating GMO corn chips, our intestinal flora might continue to manufacture the ‘Bt’ pesticide that the GMO corn plants are engineered to produce. And Americans were not told about the estimated 10,000 sheep that died within 5-7 days of grazing on GMO cotton plants — also designed to produce this Bt-toxin. Or the neurological effects it has on humans. Or the sterility issues it causes in men. Or the behavioral problems associated with it in children. Or the spontaneous abortions. Or even a base-level understanding of what a “GMO” even is!
What Exactly is a GMO?
A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic, hence they are also known as transgenic organisms. This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same.
An overly simple (and presently being researched) way to express this is: Let’s say you wanted an orange-flavored apple – or even a red-colored orange. Engineers take certain genes from the apple, such as those responsible for coloring and skin pigment, and insert it into the orange. While this is very harmless sounding, keep in mind these are not the simple issues we’re talking about when it comes to our corn, soy, canola, wheat – even salmon!
The human body has learned to adapt to certain modern foods but it has taken several thousand years and is still not overly efficient at handling even refined carbohydrates, such as pastries and pastas. Insulin production and regulation has a hard time, even for as advanced as our bodies are, at handling large amounts of regular sugar. So, the recent introduction of transgenic or engineered foods are foreign to our bodies and provide unexpected and most-often, toxic outcomes.
Imagine putting diesel fuel into your unleaded engine and hoping that eventually your car will learn to efficiently burn the diesel and get good gas mileage. That’s what has happened to our food supply.
Genetic engineering is completely different from traditional breeding and carries unique risks.
In traditional breeding, it is possible to mate a pig with another pig to get a new variety, but is not possible to mate a pig with a potato or a mouse. Even when species that may seem to be closely related do succeed in breeding, the offspring are usually infertile—a horse, for example, can mate with a donkey, but the offspring (a mule) is sterile.
With genetic engineering, scientists can breach species barriers set up by nature. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes. The results are plants (or animals) with traits that would be virtually impossible to obtain with natural processes, such as crossbreeding or grafting.
Although there are attempts to increase nutritional benefits or productivity through genetic engineering, the two main traits that have been added to date are herbicide tolerance and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide. These results have no health benefit, only economic benefit. Herbicide tolerance lets the farmer spray weed-killer directly on the crop without killing it.
Chemicals and Seed – The Iron Fist of Monsanto
Monsanto started out in 1901 as a chemical company and has a long history of creating well-known, albeit deadly products. Some of these are the development of saccharin, aspartame, Agent Orange (used during the Vietnam War), DDT, PCB’s, bovine growth hormone, polystyrene, genetically engineered crops and worked on the Manhattan Project in the 1940s (the first nuclear weapon). It is now the world’s largest seed company and one of the largest chemical corporations. It is also the developer of a product called Roundup weedkiller. It was amazingly efficient at destroying weeds and earned itself a reputation as the leader in its field.
In the 1980s, it began to engineer a super-seed that could withstand direct sprayings with Roundup weedkiller and remain uneffected. An invincible seed, if you will. Well, of course farmers jumped all over this idea. They could now lower their costs by simply spraying their entire crop with Roundup, avoid weeds and pests, and save time while doing it!
Little did these farmers know or fully grasp; Monsanto has a powerful grip. By planting Monsanto Roundup Ready soybeans or other crops, the farmer had to sign numerous agreements. Monsanto forbid the replanting of seed for the next year’s crop and required the farmer to purchase a new supply each season. Violations, if discovered, would bring down the full weight of Monsanto on family farms – often bankrupting them and seizing their property to pay court costs. Reports indicate that Monsanto employs Blackwater operatives as literal field investigators who seize crop samples from farmers and often visit them at home to warn of the consequences if they continue replanting seed. I’m sure you can imagine that this is not a pleasant social call.
The Terminator Gene
Why does Monsanto forbid replanting of their seed? Is it purely for economic reasons? Possibly. Another theory being investigated indicates unexpected issues and problems with the seed generated from their Roundup Ready plants. Remember the Russian study of lab rats that consumed GMO soy? Their offspring typically died or were infertile. Indications show that the “offspring” seed of Monsanto does not perform at the levels that are expected, to say the least. While scarce information is known, Monsanto purchased the rights to what they call TPS – Technology Protection System. This is commonly referred to as the ”Terminator Gene.” This gene self-terminates the seed after harvest. Yes, it effectively commits suicide and will not produce again.
Is this a convenient alibi for unintended genetic problems? Are these GMOs suffering from the same infertility issues that the lab rats experienced? We likely won’t know for some time due to the many contracts signed by farmers who utilize Monsanto seed and the secrecy agreements.
The Revolving Door of the FDA, Government and Monsanto
Another major issue surrounding Monsanto and similar companies has to do with the Food and Drug Administration. You might ask yourself, “If these plants are so harmful or potentially dangerous, why did the FDA approve them for human consumption?”
I’m glad you asked!
In the early 1980s, agribusiness corporations were developing genetically engineered plants, animal drugs and livestock, but no system was in place to regulate the development, sale, or use of these products. This was the era of the deregulatory Reagan/Bush administration, which developed the framework by which bio-engineered products, including food, are “regulated” today.
Many consumers in the US mistakenly believe that the FDA approves GMO foods through rigorous, in-depth, long-term studies. In reality, the agency has absolutely no safety testing requirements (The tests that biotech companies voluntarily perform on their own crops are often meticulously designed to avoid finding problems).
Along those same lines, the push for “agricultural supremacy” was in full effect at this time, competing with countries like China. The reason for the FDA’s industry-friendly policy on GMOs is that the White House ordered the agency to promote biotechnology.
Industrial profit, not public safety, was the administration’s top priority. Also, the person in charge of developing this FDA policy was the former attorney of bio-tech terrorist Monsanto – and later their Vice President. The policy he oversaw claimed that the agency was not aware of any information showing that GMO crops were different ‘in any meaningful or uniform way,’ and therefore didn’t need testing.
But 44,000 FDA internal documents made public from a lawsuit show that this was a complete lie. The overwhelming consensus among the FDA’s own scientists was that GMO foods were quite different and could lead to unpredictable and hard-to-detect allergens, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems. They had urged their superiors to require long-term studies, but were ignored. Evidence of this apparent fraud at the FDA was presented at a Washington, D.C. press conference in 1999. Although major media were in attendance, they didn’t run that story either.
The Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods
In Germany and throughout the European Union, food products that contain GMOs must be properly labeled as such. As a result, there are few GM products on store shelves because, when made aware of their presence, consumers almost unanimously reject them. But what many people fail to realize, both in Europe and in the US, is that conventional livestock is often fed GM soy and corn, which ultimately ends up on store shelves in the form of conventional meat, milk, and eggs.
But a recent German news piece goes further, highlighting the other damage being cause by GM soy, including several cases of poisonings that have taken place in areas where GM soy is cultivated.
Primarily in South America, where much of Europe’s 41 million annual tons of soy come from, local residents are becoming poisoned, paralyzed, or killed by exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, also known as glyphosate, and the other chemical applications used to grow the GM crop.
According to the investigation, production of GM soy increased 35-fold between 1996 and 2003. And between that time, the use of Roundup increased an astounding 5600%, as farmers have to apply increasingly higher amounts of the herbicide every year in order for it to keep working. And in addition to Roundup, they are now having to apply the highly-toxic 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D)chemical, which is known to cause neurological damage and chronic inflammation.
The report brings to light the dirty reality of GM soy cultivation, and the way the crop is discreetly used throughout the food chain. Even in Europe where consumers largely reject GMOs used directly in food, GM soy is quietly used to feed conventional livestock. And since food products that come from GMO-fed animals do not technically have to be labeled as containing GMOs, most consumers have no idea that they are present.
– In a Brazilian study, 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. Published in The Anatomical Record in 2009, this finding adds to the mounting body of evidence suggesting that GM foods contribute to reproductive disorders.
– In Haryana, India, a team of investigating veterinarians report that buffalo consuming GM cottonseed suffer from infertility, as well as frequent abortions, premature deliveries, and prolapsed uteruses. Many adult and young buffalo have also died mysteriously.
– In a lengthy article by Jeffery Smith of NewsWithView.com, he cites numerous tests and case studies involving reproductive issues, spontaneous abortions, male sterility and more.
– In what is being described as the first ever and most comprehensive study of the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers have linked organ damage with consumption of Monsanto’s GM maize (corn).
All three varieties of GM corn, Mon 810, Mon 863 and NK 603, were approved for consumption by US, European and several other national food safety authorities. Made public by European authorities in 2005, Monsanto’s confidential raw data of its 2002 feeding trials on rats that these researchers analyzed is the same data, ironically, that was used to approve them in different parts of the world.
The data “clearly underlines adverse impacts on kidneys and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, as well as different levels of damages to heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system,” reported Gilles-Eric Séralini, a molecular biologist at the University of Caen. Their December 2009 study appears in the International Journal of Biological Sciences (IJBS).
– A new study done by Russian scientists suggests that genetically modified crops may cause long term sterility, that is, sterility in second and third generations. The scientists used hamsters for this research and divided them into groups. One group of hamsters was fed a normal diet without any soy products, a second group was fed non-GMO soy, the third ate GM soy and the fourth group was fed an even higher amount of GM soy than the third.
Each group produced about seven to eight litters of baby hamsters each without any problems. But when the researchers selected new breeding pairs from the offspring, the second generation had a slower growth rate and reached their sexual maturity later than normal. They also had a mortality rate, five times higher than the hamsters who didn’t eat soy. Even more shocking was the fact that nearly all of the third generation GM soy eating hamsters were sterile and also experienced hair growing inside their mouths.
– The German government has banned the cultivation of genetically modified corn, calling it “a danger to the environment.” The government says that GM crops can damage wildlife, spread their genetic material to wild relatives, and produce health problems in humans. “As an example, it is now being discovered that pollen from genetically modified corn can kill monarch butterflies,” writes Ron Garner in his book Conscious Health.
“There is long-term concern that pollen from bio-engineered crops will spread and kill beneficial insects as well as create strains of superweeds that are totally-resistant to pesticides,” he writes. “Genetic engineering is changing the composition of foods, and most North American consumers are uninformed on the issue.”
– US corn agriculture (mostly GMO) has been criticized as environmentally unsustainable and conspicuously subsidized. Of 160 food products that can be purchased at a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant, not one item can be traced back to a non-corn source.
– In recent years, India has seen an incredible surge in GM cotton farmer suicides. This is attributed to the GM cotton and repeated spraying of herbicides destroying the fertility of the soil and the micro-organisms that exist naturally, resulting in massive crop failures. Additionally, many farmers have bankrupted themselves by having to purchase new seed every year from the bio-tech companies.
What Can I Do?
An industry-wide rejection of GMOs can be achieved by a ‘tipping point,’ when there are enough US shoppers avoiding GMO ingredients to force the major food companies to stop using them. In a similar example, Wal-Mart began stocking organic yogurts, milk and other products based solely on consumer feedback (such as StonyField). Those grocery store keychain cards you have track what you purchase and quite a bit of money is spent by large companies for focus groups and consumer studies. These large corporations will stock what the consumer demands. But in order for this demand to exist, it requires education and information.
Europe reached the tipping point in April of 1999 and within a single week, virtually all major manufacturers publicly committed to stop using GMO ingredients in their European brands. This consumer-led revolt against GMOs in the EU was generated by a February 1999 media firestorm after a top GMO safety researcher, Dr. Arpad Pusztai, was ‘ungagged by Parliament’ and able to tell his alarming story to the press.
The tipping point was reached quickly thanks to the buying power of consumers that convinced manufacturers to keep GMOs out of Europe, in spite of official approvals by the pro-GMO European Commission.
Other actions you can take are sharing this story with friends and loved ones. Become further educated on the risks associated with genetically modified foods. Start reading ingredient labels on your food and avoid products that contain ingredients that are multi-syllable (or hard to pronounce!). Below, I have included some of the best documentaries I’ve watched regarding GMOs and the dangers contained within out foods.
In Part 2 of Eating Healthier, I will dive into the topics of food additives, preservatives, the problem with high fructose corn syrup and more! You’ll be surprised to learn just how devastating HFCS is to the human body and if you thought the dangers of GMOs were severe, wait until you hear about the common preservatives found in almost all processed foods – and how to easily avoid them!
Don’t be scared of your food! Become educated and before long, you won’t think twice about what to shop for, where to go and what to eat. It becomes second nature, so take your first step towards eating healthier and learn more about genetically modified foods.
Kevin Hayden is a former New Orleans police officer-turned-political activist. He endured Hurricane Katrina’s chaos and societal collapse in the days following and after 5 years in New Orleans, moved to Oklahoma. Kevin currently runs www.TruthisTreason.net and works on local politics and education about our monetary, food and foreign policies while building an off-grid shipping container homestead and helping people become prepared. He can be contacted directly at [email protected]
More examples of the revolving door at Monsanto and several documentaries I highly suggest:
David W. Beier – Former head of Government Affairs for Genentech, Inc. -> Chief Domestic Policy Advisor to Al Gore when he was Vice President.
Linda J. Fisher – former Assistant Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pollution Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances -> now Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for Monsanto Corporation.
Michael A. Friedman, M.D. – former acting Commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services -> now Senior Vice President for Clinical Affairs at G. D. Searle & Co., a pharmaceutical division of Monsanto Corporation.
L. Val Giddings – former Bio-technology Regulator and (bio-safety) negotiator at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA/APHIS) -> now Vice President for Food & Agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
Marcia Hale – former Assistant to the President of the United States and Director for Intergovernmental Affairs -> now Director of International Government Affairs for Monsanto Corporation.
Michael (Mickey) Kantor – former Secretary of the United States Department of Commerce and former Trade Representative of the United States -> now member of the Board of Directors of Monsanto Corporation.
Josh King – former Director of Production for White House events -> now Director of Global Communication in the Washington, D.C. office of Monsanto Corporation.
Terry Medley – former Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture, former Chair and Vice-Chair of the United States Department of Agriculture Biotechnology Council, former member of the FDA’s Food Advisory Committee -> and now Director of Regulatory and External Affairs of Dupont Corporation’s Agricultural Enterprise.
Margaret Miller – former Chemical Laboratory Supervisor for Monsanto -> now Deputy Director of Human Food Safety and Consultative Services, New Animal Drug Evaluation Office, Center for Veterinary Medicine for the FDA.
William D. Ruckelshaus – former Chief Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -> now a member of the Board of Directors of Monsanto Corporation.
Michael Taylor – former Legal Advisor to the FDA’s Bureau of Medical Devices and Bureau of Foods and later, Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of the FDA -> then a partner at the law firm of King & Spaulding where he supervised a nine-lawyer group whose clients included Monsanto Agricultural Company -> still later, returned to the FDA as Deputy Commissioner for Policy -> and then, back with the law firm of King & Spaulding -> (really?) and back through the revolving door and is head of the Washington, D.C. Office of Monsanto Corporation.
Lidia Watrud – former microbial bio-technology researcher at Monsanto Corporation in St. Louis, Missouri -> now with the EPA’s Environmental Effects Laboratory, Western Ecology Division.
Jack Watson -> former Chief of Staff to the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter -> now a staff lawyer with Monsanto Corporation in Washington, D.C.
Clayton K. Yeutter – former Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture, former US Trade Representative (who led the US team in negotiating the US / Canada Free Trade Agreement and helped launch the Uruguay Round of the GATT negotiations) -> now a member of the Board of Directors of Mycogen Corporation, whose majority owner is Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company.
Documentaries and further education:
Sources for this story include: SavvyVegetarian.com, Institute for Responsible Technology, Seeds of Deception, The World According to Monsanto, The Non-GMO Project, NaturalNews.com and more.