The biotechnology and processed food industries, led by Monsanto, have repeatedly spent huge amounts of money to prevent the labeling of GMO foods. They’ve been successful in the US – and the public is angry about this. For more information, see The Monsanto Protection Act is Back, and Worse Than Ever (Center for Food Safety, 2015).
You can protect your health – and vote with your dollars – by avoiding products manufactured by the following companies.
List of 68 companies and brands either owned by Monsanto or known to use genetically modified seeds sold by Monsanto (Hess, 2016):
Campbell’s (* See note below)
Delicious Brands cookies
Loma Linda Foods
Procter & Gamble
Rice-A-Roni & Pasta Roni
Weight Watchers Smart Ones
Tombstone frozen pizza
*Formerly a staunch opposer to mandatory GMO labeling, Campbell Soup, while still including GMO foods in its products, has at least recently given in to consumer pressure and agreed to label them. The company announced earlier this year that it “will advocate for federal legislation that would require all foods and beverages regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to be clearly and simply labeled for GMOs.” (Charles, 1/8/2016)
“Glyphosate levels have been found to be significantly higher in the urine of humans who ate non-organic food, compared with those who ate mostly organic food. Chronically ill people showed significantly higher glyphosate residues in their urine than healthy people.” (Robinson, Antoniou & Fagan, 2015)
This post may bring at least part of the discussion of GMO foods from the general to the personal – the effects of glyphosate on your own health.
WHAT IS GLYPHOSATE
Glyphosate is the key chemical ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp weedkiller, which the genetically modified seeds produced by Monsanto – called “RoundUp Ready” – are engineered to withstand. These “RoundUp Ready” seeds can be doused with glyphosate and survive while the other non-GMO plants around them are killed. (GMO Awareness, 2011)
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world.
“Since 1974 in the U.S., over 1.6 billion kilograms of glyphosate active ingredient have been applied, or 19 % of estimated global use of glyphosate (8.6 billion kilograms). Globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since so-called “Roundup Ready,” genetically engineered glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996. Two-thirds of the total volume of glyphosate applied in the U.S. from 1974 to 2014 has been sprayed in just the last 10 years. The corresponding share globally is 72 %. In 2014, farmers sprayed enough glyphosate to apply ~1.0 kg/ha (0.8 pound/acre) on every hectare of U.S.-cultivated cropland and nearly 0.53 kg/ha (0.47 pounds/acre) on all cropland worldwide.” (Benbrook, 2016)
That’s a huge amount of poison being sprayed on the fruits and vegetables we eat and in the feed of most of the animal products we consume.
“Worldwide, 8 GMO crops have been approved for commercial production; soy, cotton, corn, canola, sugarbeet, papaya, squash or yellow zucchini, and alfalfa, and the biotech industry is in the process of pushing forward additionally modified foods such as rice, apples, and salmon. The four major crops that account for virtually all of the biotech output are soy, cotton, corn, and canola. The remaining GMO crops are exclusively grown in the United States with the exception being papaya which is grown in China in addition to US cultivation.”
In the US, nearly 300 million pounds of glyphosate were used on crops in 2013. (US Department of the Interior, 2016)
Glyphosate Use in US by Year and Crop, 1992-2013
The following information is from the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC, 2015):
Glyphosate is an herbicide applied to the leaves of plants to kill both broad leaf plants and grasses.
Glyphosate has been one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States since 1974. It is used in agriculture and forestry, on lawns and gardens, and for weed control in industrial areas. Some products containing glyphosate are used to control aquatic plants.
As of 2015, there were over 750 products containing glyphosate for sale in the US.
Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide – it will kill most plants by interfering with plants’ ability to synthesize aromatic amino acids. This pathway is necessary for plants and some microorganisms’ survival.
Glyphosate exposure can take place via the skin, eyes, nose, and ingestion.
HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF GLYPHOSATE
This list was published by GMO-Awareness.com in 2011. See More About Glyphosate (RoundUp) for more information on glyphosate and links to numerous studies on its health consequences:
Glyphosate causes disease and biological / physiological disorders in crops
Glyphosate is no longer effective at killing weeds
Glyphosate use is increasing steadily
Glyphosate is not breaking down as promised by Monsanto
Glyphosate causes birth defects, tumors, and reproductive disorders in animals, as well as sharp declines in beneficial insects
Glyphosate is a genotoxic endocrine disruptor to human cells and gut bacteria
Glyphosate is linked to cancer and deadly kidney disease in humans
Glyphosate causes DNA damage
In spite of considerable evidence, t he EPA is still deciding whether glyphosate presents any health risks to humans
Glyphosate resistance is the primary purpose of genetic crop engineering
In 2015, I sent urine and tap water samples to The Detox Project for glyphosate residue testing. Their testing uses a scientifically validated LC/MS/MS method – a powerful and highly sensitive procedure for detecting and measuring chemicals in liquid samples. (Wikipedia, 5/20/2016)
To my surprise, the sample of water from my kitchen sink contained an insignificant amount of glyphosate residue but my urine sample was a different story: 3.5ppb (parts per billion) (ng/mL) – higher than the 2.8ppb (ng/mL) average for my area of the country, the Northeast.
My urine glyphosate finding is disturbing. 3.5 ppb possibly increases my risk for a number of serious health consequences down the road. The relatively high number possibly also explains, along with repeated doses of antibiotics, how my colon came to be overrun with a Clostridium difficile infection in 2010. If my gut microbiome had been diverse and strong, my gut wouldn’t have become overrun with C. diff bacteria.
There’s also the fact that I grew up and lived a large part of my life in the Midwest. If you look at the map and chart above, you’ll see that this area has been doused with a high concentration of glyphosate.
Also, it has been only since I recovered from that C. diff infection that I started to read up on GMO vs organic and began to eat more organic foods. Yet, my life is fairly complicated with many moving parts and most of my work is conducted at my home. I’m able to get to the Union Square Greenmarket only one afternoon a week to shop for organic fruits, veggies, cheeses, and meat. The grocery stores that are convenient to my home carry a limited variety of wild caught fish and organic meats. My social life generally involves meeting friends for meals a few days a week and I take myself out to eat maybe one additional day to avoid cabin fever. I have a gluten allergy and sensitivities to several other common ingredients so am somewhat limited in dishes I can safely eat. And the kicker is that, even in New York City, the majority of well priced, interesting restaurants serve GMO food, much of it very tasty and locally produced) – meaning I’m still getting an ongoing dose of glyphosate in my salads, sushi, and chicken tikka masala.
My glyphosate score doesn’t mean I’m doomed to get any serious health conditions. It has, however, made me realize that I have to work even harder to keep my gut immunity strong.
Glyphosate, the most frequently used herbicide in the world, was found in the urine of 93% of people across American during this unique project.
Even worse, the highest levels of glyphosate were found in children!
Additionally, as The Detox Project points out, people who had themselves tested were likely already knowledgeable about the dangers of GMO foods so were inclined to avoid them – and, even so, glyphosate was found in the urine and breast milk samples from 93% of us.
Urine samples were tested by a laboratory at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) during this first ever comprehensive and validated LC/MS/MS testing project to be carried out across America.
Glyphosate was determined to be A PROBABLE HUMAN CARCINOGEN by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 (IARC, 2015) – and now this toxic product has been shown to exist in the bodies of over 90% of the US population.
Information from The Detox Project’s press release (Detox Project 2015-2016):
Urine and Water Testing Results
“93% of the urine tested by the University of California San Francisco lab tested positive for glyphosate residues. No glyphosate was found in the tap water samples. These results are only from a small percentage of the total samples collected. More data will be released later in 2016 that shows a very similar percentage contamination rate in a much larger number of people, according to the UCSF laboratory.
“The results of this bio-survey come from the first in-lab validated LC/MS/MS testing method used for glyphosate testing of the general public in America.”
Is Glyphosate Safe at Real-Life Exposure Levels?
“Glyphosate has never been studied by regulators or the chemical industry at levels that the human population in the U.S. is being exposed to (under 3 mg/kg body weight/day). This is a huge hole in the global risk assessment of glyphosate, as there is evidence suggesting that low levels of the chemical may hack hormones even more than at mid and high levels, according to independent science – a higher dose does not necessarily make a more toxic, hormone disruptive effect.”
“Industry funded science from the dark ages suggested that the higher the dose of a chemical the more dangerous it was. However, modern independent science has discovered that many toxic chemicals have as much or even more of an influence on our health at low doses– these chemicals are known as hormone hackers (endocrine disruptors).
“A study from March 2015 stated that the health costs to the European Union of just some hormone hacking chemicals, in connection with a subset of illnesses known to be linked to hormone interference, is over EUR 150 Billion per year! The study stated that lower IQ, adult obesity and 5% or more of autism cases are all linked to exposure to endocrine disruptors.
Unique Testing Project
“The Detox Project is a unique platform for the testing of toxic chemicals in our bodies and in our food. The aim of the project is to cut out all conflicts of interest in chemical bio-surveys by allowing the public to pay directly for chemical testing that they are interested in.”
“The regions with the highest levels were the West and the Midwest with an average of 3.053 PPB and 3.050 PPB respectively.
“Glyphosate residues were not observed in any tap water samples during the early phase of the project, most likely due to phosphorus removal during water treatment.
“The results from the UCSF urine testing in America showed a much higher frequency and average glyphosate level than those observed in urine samples in the European Union in 2013. The average level in Europe was around 1 PPB with a frequency of detection of 43.9%.”
“Glyphosate is likely to be one of these hormone hacking chemicals at real-life exposure levels down to 0.1 ppb or below, according to independent science. Regulators and the chemical industry have simply not studied the toxic effects of glyphosate at real-life exposure levels. Find more information on this here.”
YOU CAN’T WASH GLYPHOSATE OFF YOUR FOOD
Glyphosate incorporates into each cell of a plant so WASHING PRODUCE DOES NOT REMOVE IT. And it accumulates in animal tissues so you get a dose of glyphosate whenever you eat meat and dairy products from animals fed GMO grain feeds. (Carnahan, 2015)
Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis)
Carnahan also includes her own Detox Project’s Glyphosate Analysis Report in her article along with an explanation of why she thinks the glyphosate residue level in her urine is so high. (Carnahan, 2016)
“The Detox Project provides glyphosate level testing for urine and water. This testing will provide you with an accurate report on the levels of glyphosate and 150+ man-made chemicals in your urine and water in parts per billion (ppb) and also gives you information about the results of independent peer-reviewed lab studies on rats and other animals that have been completed on glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides.
Carnahan, J. (2015). Glyphosate Toxicity: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You! See: http://www.jillcarnahan.com/2015/11/22/glyphosate-toxicity/http://www.jillcarnahan.com/2015/11/22/glyphosate-toxicity/
Comments made by people I’d thought understood why growing and eating genetically modified and other non-organic foods are dangerous to humans, other animals and the planet spurred me to write this post.
“Why should I pay more for organic carrots? They’re not any bigger than the other kind.” – heard at a farmers’ market
“Organic is just a label for getting us to pay more for our food.” – said by an MD
“Genetically modified foods have been tested and are safe to eat.”
“The US government protects the safety of our food supply.”
“GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.” (Non-GMO Project, 2016)
Although at least 90% of Americans want labeling, genetically engineered foods generally are not labeled in the US – thanks to powerful efforts by Monsanto and other big agribusiness companies.
Conventionally grown foods are grown using synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, chemicals which get absorbed into the soil and cannot be removed. The purpose of conventional farming is mass production, out of season growing, and creating a longer shelf life. This type of farming uses monoculture. This means crops are often planted over and over in the same place which leads to more insect infestation and disease, and depletes the soil of nutrients which then leads to more fertilizer use. This endless cycle often leads to massive topsoil erosion. It is also argued that conventionally grown foods are tasteless due to all the chemical treating. (Raj, 2012)
Conventionally grown foods are also not labeled in the US and often contain GMOs along with synthetic chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
Organic foods are grown in nutrient rich soil and are free of synthetic chemicals. They are not treated with pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Organically raised farm animals are free of antibiotics and added hormones. They are not fed GMO’s or other drugs. Organic animals are not allowed to have their genes modified. They are raised in healthier environments, are organically fed, and generally eat a wider range of nutrients than animals in factory farms. Organically raised animals are not bred from a test tube. (Raj, 2012)
GMO Free means not genetically modified or fed feed containing GMOs.
A SUMMARY OF THE ISSUES
SAFETY FOR HUMANS
The only way to avoid consuming the cocktail of toxic chemicals in genetically modified and otherwise commercially grown foods is to eat organic. “More than 600 active chemicals are registered for agricultural use in America, to the tune of billions of pounds annually. The average application equates to about 16 pounds of chemical pesticides per person every year. Many of these chemicals were approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before adequate safety testing.
“The National Academy of Sciences reports that 90% of the chemicals applied to foods have not been tested for long-term health effects before being deemed “safe.” Further, the FDA tests only 1% of foods for pesticide residue. The most dangerous and toxic pesticides require special testing methods, which are rarely if ever employed by the FDA. ” (Loux, 2011)
Contrary to Monsanto’s and other GMO manufacturers and supporters’ claims, the pesticides associated with GMO crops are unsafe for humans, other organisms, and the environment.
A primary example is glyphosate, a broad-spectrum, non-selective systemic herbicide, that is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and Dow AgroSciences’ Rodeo and is found in many other herbicides as well.
Exposure to glyphosate has been linked to a host of serious health effects: (Robinson, Antoniou & Fagan, 2015)
Severe liver and kidney damage
Chronic kidney disease
Disruption of hormonal systems, potentially leading to multiple organ damage and hormone-dependent cancer
Developmental and reproductive toxicity, including sperm damage, miscarriage, and premature birth
High Glyphosate levels are now turning up everywhere:
In our blood
In breast milk
In water supplies
“Glyphosate levels have been found to be significantly higher in the urine of humans who ate non-organic food, compared with those who ate mostly organic food. Chronically ill people showed significantly higher glyphosate residues in their urine than healthy people.” (Robinson, Antoniou & Fagan, 2015)
SAFETY OF THE PLANET
Those more than 600 agricultural chemicals the US government has approved for agricultural use are contaminating our environment and destroying the ecosystem:
Polluting the soil and water with toxins
Depleting nutrients from the soil, destroying its fertility
Destroying organisms in the soil necessary for growing healthy crops and animals
Killing and mutating insects, frogs, birds and other wildlife
Organic farming, while avoiding use of these chemicals, supports the tapestry of ecology, achieving eco-sustenance.
“Certified organic standards do not permit the use of toxic chemicals in farming and require responsible management of healthy soil and biodiversity.
“According to Cornell entomologist David Pimentel, it is estimated that only 0.1% of applied pesticides reach the target pests. The bulk of pesticides (99.9%) is left to impact the environment.” (Loux, 2011)
Organically grown foods are more nutritious than non-organic foods. They contain more vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and micronutrients than commercially grown foods because the soil they’re grown in is managed and nourished with sustainable practices by responsible standards. “The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine conducted a review of 41 published studies comparing the nutritional value of organically grown and conventionally grown fruits, vegetables, and grains and concluded that there are significantly more of several nutrients in organic foods crops.
“Further, the study verifies that five servings of organically grown vegetables (such as lettuce, spinach, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage) provide an adequate allowance of vitamin C, whereas the same number of servings of conventionally grown vegetables do not.
“On average, organically grown foods provide: 21.1% more iron (than their conventional counterparts); 27% more vitamin C; 29.3% more magnesium; 13.6% more phosphorus.” (Loux, 2011)
ORGANIC VS FACTORY FARMED ANIMALS
Even aside from the huge issue of the heart breaking, inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals, the meat and dairy products they provide are the foods at highest risk for contamination by harmful substances. For example, over 90% of the pesticides Americans consume comes from the fat and tissue of meat and dairy products. (Loux, 2011)
(I’ll also point out that the corn fed to the factory farmed cow on the right above is almost certainly genetically modified. )
The EPA reports that a majority of human pesticide intake comes from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products because these foods are all high on the food chain. “For instance, a large fish that eats a smaller fish that eats even smaller fish accumulates all of the toxins of the chain, especially in fatty tissue. Cows, chickens, and pigs are fed animal parts, by-products, fish meal, and grains that are heavily and collectively laden with toxins and chemicals.” (Loux, 2011)
The antibiotics, drugs, and growth hormones fed to factory farmed animals are passed directly into their meat and dairy products. “Tens of millions of pounds of antibiotics are used in animal feed every year…. The hormones fed to cows cannot be broken down, even at high temperatures. Therefore they remain in complete form and pass directly into the consumer’s diet when meat is eaten.” (Loux, 2011)
“Between 1985 and 2001, the use of antibiotics in feed for industrial livestock production rose a startling 50%. Today, antibiotics are routinely fed to livestock, poultry, and fish on industrial farms to promote faster growth and to compensate for the unsanitary conditions in which they are raised.
“According to a new report by the FDA, approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are fed to farm animals. This means that in the United States only 20 percent of antibiotics, which were originally developed to protect human health, are actually used to treat infections in people.” (Grace, 2016)
ORGANIC TASTES BETTER
Organically grown foods are generally more flavorful and easier to digest than foods treated with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. They’re more environment-friendly too. (Quinn, 2000)
ORGANIC IS ACTUALLY COST-EFFECTIVE
To decide whether it’s worth it to pay more money for organic foods, you have to factor in the additional costs of eating non-organic:
Widespread and ever increasing suffering with acute and chronic illnesses
The financial cost of treating these illnesses
Treatment of bacterial-resistant infections
Subsidies paid to farmers
Egregious treatment of animals on factory farms
Cost of pesticide clean ups
Destruction of the environment
Loss of export markets for US-produced GM products
Organic farming produces nutritious foods that keep us and other animals well instead of making us sick as most of our food supply is currently doing. Organic practices also preserve the environment for the future.
And then there are these additional, hidden costs in figuring how much you’re actually spending for non-organic foods:
“Buying organic food is an investment in a cost-effective future. Commercial and conventional farming is heavily subsidized with tax dollars in America. A study at Cornell University determined the cost of a head of commercial iceberg lettuce, typically purchased at 49 cents a head, to be more than $3.00 a head when hidden costs were revealed. The study factored in the hidden costs of federal subsidies, pesticide regulation and testing, and hazardous waste and cleanup.
“Every year, American tax dollars subsidize billions of dollars for a farm bill that heavily favors commercial agribusiness. Peeling back another layer of the modern farming onion reveals a price tag that cannot be accurately measured but certainly includes other detrimental associated costs such as health problems, environmental damage, and the loss and extinction of wildlife and ecology.” (Loux, 2011)
WHAT IS FOOD?
Having apparently lost the ability to understand the function of food – to provide nourishment that keeps us well, we’ve reached the point of calling everything we put in our stomachs ‘food’.
READ MORE ABOUT GMO MYTHS AND TRUTHS
If you’re interested in learning more about GMOs and the research on them, I recommend this clear, easy to read source of information:
GMO Myths and Truths – A Citizen’s Guide to the Evidence on the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops and Foods, 3rd Edition. Its authors are Claire Robinson (an editor at GMWatch), John Fagan (PhD in biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell biology, pioneer of genetic testing methods for GMOs, researcher on biosafety and sustainable agriculture, and Director of Open Earth Resource), and Michael Antoniou (PhD in Molecular Genetics and Head of the Gene Expression and Therapy Group, King’s College London School of Medicine).
Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/allergi9/public_html/wp-content/plugins/wp-spamshield/wp-spamshield.php on line 2033
This email from Food Democracy Now! arrived in my inbox today and is worth sharing with all of you who read my blog. It’s about Consumed, a new feature film – a thriller – about what genetically modified foods are doing to us.
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Other names for the technology include Genetic Engineering (GE) and Genetic Modification (GM). GMO, GE, and GM all mean the same thing.
GMO is a different process from either hybridization and cross-breeding, both of which involve two related species.
In genetic modification, genes from one species are forced into another entirely unrelated species. While hybridization and cross-breeding have been done successfully for centuries, genetic engineering forcefully breaches the naturally-occurring barriers between species – and its long term effects and its effects on humans, other animals, and the environment have been inadequately studied. Much of the research on its short term effects have shown cause for alarm.
I recommend looking at this article if you want to learn more about GMO’s.
Here’s the email about the movie, Consumed, and how you can get to see it where you live:
We received some disappointing news this week and I think it’s important to remember what this movement is all about. Despite the FDA’s recent approval of GMO salmon, in the past 4 years, a national movement for basic transparency in our food supply has sprung up across the United States and inspired millions of like-minded citizens like us around the world.
This massive awakening has only happened because millions of people like you have become educated about the complex topic of GMOs and decided to take massive action. From shifting to a more organic and non-GMO diet, to voting for GMO labeling to signing petitions, to supporting the organic and non-GMO companies that produce our food responsibly and with basic transparency, we’ve sparked a movement whose momentum is just getting started.
From the very beginning, we knew this would be a difficult battle. But right now, even though they’re continuing to rig the regulatory system against us, major American food companies are scrambling to keep up with the growing demand that the GMO labeling movement has created for healthy, organic and non-GMO food.
And now we think it’s time to get creative! Which is whyFood Democracy Now! would like to bring your attention to a must-see new movie about GMOs.
In case you haven’t heard about it, CONSUMED is a new dramatic thriller (not a documentary) that sheds light on Genetically Modified Foods, champions the Right To Know movement, and promotes GMO labeling of foods sold in the United States.
Consumed tackles the complex issues of how corporations have taken over our food supply, bully and intimidate family farmers, corrupt science and the realities of improper safety testing from the American public.
Right now, you have a chance to help grow this movement even further, by making sure your friends and family go a see this dramatic new film, which could literally be the first blockbuster to tell the story of how companies like Monsanto have consolidated power in rural America and forced their products to be sold unlabeled here in the U.S. for more than 20 years.
CLICK HERE to see a Trailer/Featurette on the film.
CONSUMED is arguably the first narrative feature film to truly tackle the complex and controversial world of GMOs in a substantive, yet entertaining way.
It features an incredible cast, including: Zoe Lister-Jones (Life in Pieces), Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon), Taylor Kinney (Chicago Fire), Anthony Edwards (Top Gun), Victor Garber (Argo), Kunal Nayyar (Big Bang Theory), Griffin Dunne (Dallas Buyers Club), and Beth Grant (Mindy Project).
“Very entertaining, relatable, suspenseful and informative and a real eye opener
to what is going on. This film has re-inspired and educated me.”
– Erin Brockovich
CONSUMED has partnered with GATHR FILMS to release one night only crowd sourced screenings in movie theaters nationwide. Each screening will be an exciting community event that will generate awareness of the Right To Know movement and bring this important issue to the attention of thousands of new individuals across the country.
CLICK HERE and enter your city to find your local screening of CONSUMED.
We are encouraging individuals, organizations, and community groups to support screening events of CONSUMED and help sell out movie theaters across the US.
Reserve your tickets to a screening of CONSUMED at the theater nearest you OR become a host of a screening and rally your friends and colleagues to join you at this important community event.
Be a part of the release of this groundbreaking film!
Gathr’s support team (firstname.lastname@example.org or 855.428.4787) is available if you’d like more information about how this works or how to rally local members to attend a screening.
Remember, democracy is like a muscle, either you use it or you lose it!
Thanks for participating in food democracy,
Founder / Executive Director
Food Democracy Now!
Updated 7/20/2015. See info on Truvia at end of OTHER ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS section.
This post was prompted by a colleague who arrived on a hot summer day carrying a bottle of Diet Snapple sweetened with aspartame. Since I knew he’d battled cancer twice and is health conscious, I was surprised and sent him some information on aspartame that evening.
The next day he wrote to ask if there are any safe sweeteners since he’s trying to keep his weight down and avoiding sugar.
This is for him.
This is what Dr Robert Mercola says about the dangers of aspartame:
How Aspartame Can Wreak Havoc with Your Health
“Aspartame is primarily made up of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The phenylalanine has been synthetically modified to carry a methyl group, which provides the majority of the sweetness. That phenylalanine methyl bond, called a methyl ester, is very weak, which allows the methyl group on the phenylalanine to easily break off and form methanol.You may have heard the claim that aspartame is harmless because methanol is also found in fruits and vegetables. However, in fruits and vegetables, the methanol is firmly bonded to pectin, allowing it to be safely passed through your digestive tract. Not so with the methanol created by aspartame; there it’s not bonded to anything that can help eliminate it from your body. That’s problem number one.
“Problem number two relates to the fact that humans are the only mammals who are NOT equipped with a protective biological mechanism that breaks down methanol into harmless formic acid. This is why animal testing of aspartame does not fully apply to humans. According to Dr. Woody Monte, a toxicology expert and professor emeritus at Arizona State University in food and chemistry:
‘There is a major biochemical problem here. Methyl alcohol is known now, and has been known since 1940, to be metabolized differently by humans from every other animal.’
“As explained by Dr. Monte, in humans, the methanol ends up acting as a Trojan horse, and here’s how. Both animals and humans have small structures called peroxisomes in each cell. There are a couple of hundred in every cell of your body, which are designed to detoxify a variety of chemicals. Peroxisome contains catalase, which help detoxify methanol. Other chemicals in the peroxisome convert the formaldehyde to formic acid, which is harmless, but, again, this last step occurs only in animals. Human peroxisomes cannot convert the toxic formaldehyde into harmless formic acid.
“So to recap: in humans, the methyl alcohol travels through your blood vessels into sensitive areas, such as your brain, that are loaded with ADH, which converts methanol to formaldehyde. And since there’s no catalase present, the formaldehyde is free to cause enormous damage in your tissues. Symptoms from methanol poisoning are many, and include headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness and shooting pains in the extremities, behavioral disturbances, and neuritis.
“The most well known problems from methanol poisoning are vision problems including misty vision, progressive contraction of visual fields, blurring of vision, obscuration of vision, retinal damage, and blindness. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication and may cause birth defects. Not surprisingly, the most comprehensive and longest human study looking at aspartame toxicity found a clear association between aspartame consumption and non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and leukemia.”
– Mercola, 2015
In 1991, Doctor of Nutrition Janet Starr Hull was diagnosed with severe Grave’s Disease, a serious autoimmune disorder characterized by an overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism). Her doctors began treating her for this but she didn’t get well until she detoxed herself from aspartame, which was poisoning her – in her case, mimicking the symptoms of Graves Disease. She created an Aspartame Detox Program to heal herself and now teaches it to others.
551 people who reported toxicity effects from aspartame ingestion were surveyed in an epidemiological survey. The results were reported in the Journal of Applied Nutrition in 1988. Both acute and chronic toxicity effects from aspartame were covered.
This is a list of aspartame’s adverse health effects identified by the participants in this survey (FDA, 2003):
SYMPTOM # OF PEOPLE %
– Decreased vision and/or other eye problems 140 25%
(blurring, bright flashes, tunnel vision)
– Pain (or or both eyes) 51 9%
– Decreased tears, trouble with contact lens, 46 8%
– Blindness (one or both eyes) 14 3%
– Tinnitus (ringing, buzzing) 13 13%
– Severe intolerance for noise 47 9%
– Marked impairment of hearing 25 5%
– Headaches 249 45%
– Dizziness, unsteadiness, or both 217 39%
– Confusion, memory loss, or both 157 29%
– Severe drowsiness and sleepiness 93 17%
– Paresthesias (pins and needles, tingling) 82 15%
or numbness of the limbs
– Convulsions (grand mal epileptic attacks) 80 15%
– Petit mal attacks and “absences” 18 3%
– Severe slurring of speech 64 12%
– Severe tremors 51 9%
– Severe hyperactivity and restless legs 43 8%
– Atypical facial pain 38 7%
– Severe depression 139 25%
– Extreme irritability 125 23%
– Severe anxiety attacks 105 19%
– Marked personality changes 88 16%
– Recent severe insomnia 76 14%
– Severe aggravation of phobias 41 7%
– Nausea 79 14%
– Diarrhea 70 13%
Associated gross blood in the stools (12)
– Abdominal pain 70 13%
– Pain on swallowing 28 5%
SKIN AND ALLERGIES
– Severe itching without a rash 44 8%
– Severe lip and mouth reactions 29 5%
– Urticaria (hives) 25 5%
– Other eruptions 48 9%
– Aggravation of respiratory allergies 10 2%
ENDOCRINE AND METABOLIC
– Problems with diabetes: loss of control; 60 11%
precipitation of clinical diabetes;
aggravation or simulation of diabetic
– Menstrual changes 45 6%
Severe reduction or cessation of periods (22)
– Paradoxic weight gain 34 5%
– Marked weight loss 26 6%
– Marked thinning or loss of the hair 32 6%
– Aggravated hypoglycemia (low blood sugar 25 5%
– Frequency of voiding (day and night), burning 69 13%
on urination (dysuria), or both
– Excessive thirst 65 12%
– Severe joint pains 58 11%
– Bloating 57 10%
– Fluid retention and leg swelling 20 4%
– Increased susceptibility to infection 7 1%
Aspartame may also trigger, mimic, cause , or worsen the following illnesses (FDA, 2003) (Hull, 2003):
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Arthritis (including Rheumatoid)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
EMS (Eosinophilia–myalgia Syndrome)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Mercury sensitivity from Amalgam fillings
“These are not allergies or sensitivities, but diseases and disease syndromes. Aspartame poisoning is commonly misdiagnosed because aspartame symptoms mock textbook ‘disease’ symptoms, such as Grave’s Disease.
“Aspartame dissolves into solution and can therefore travel throughout the body and deposit within any tissue. The body digests aspartame unlike saccharin, which does not break down within humans.
“The multitude of aspartame side effects are indicative to your genetic individuality and physical weaknesses. It is important to put two and two together, nonetheless, and identify which side effects aspartame is creating within you.” ( Hull, 2002)
“Frequently, aspartame toxicity is misdiagnosed as a specific disease. This has yet to be reported in the scientific literature, yet it has been reported countless times to independent organizations and scientists…. In other cases, it has been reported that chronic aspartame ingestion has triggered or worsened certain chronic illnesses. Nearly 100% of the time, the patient and physician assume that these worsening conditions are simply a normal progression of the illness. Sometimes that may be the case, but many times it is chronic aspartame poisoning.” (FDA, 2003)
“There have been well over 7,000 aspartame toxicity reactions officially received by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 1982 (after aspartame was first approved) until 1995. From this figure, we can estimate the number of actual toxicity reactions observed. (FDA, 2003)
Dr Betty Martini, is a physician who learned about the toxicity of aspartame and founded Mission Possible World Health International, a volunteer organization working with doctors around the world committed to removing aspartame from all foods, drinks, and medicines.
Martini points out that 75% of all product complaints received by the FDA are about aspartame, considerably more than for any other additive. Recently the EPA declared aspartame to be a potentially dangerous chemical.
Martini says NutraSweet (a brand of aspartame) is a “deadly neurotoxic drug masquerading as an additive. It interacts with all antidepressants, L-dopa, Coumadin, hormones, insulin, all cardiac medication, and many others. It also is a chemical hyper sensitization drug so that it interacts with vaccines, other toxins, other unsafe sweeteners like Splenda which has a chlorinated base like DDT and can cause auto immune disease. It has a synergistic and additive effect with MSG…. The FDA has known this for a quarter of a century and done nothing even though it’s against the law.” (Genet, 2011)
Check this out!
DONALD RUMSFELD AND ASPARTAME
Yes indeed, that Donald Rumsfeld – the one who, as George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense, promoted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He’s also known for the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuses scandal and what were termed “enhanced interrogation techniques”.
So what’s his connection to aspartame?
In 1985, G.D. Searle, the pharmaceutic company holding the patent for aspartame, was purchased by Monsanto. Fifteen years earlier, in 1980, an FDA Board of Inquiry, made up of three independent scientists, confirmed a connection between aspartame and brain tumors. The FDA had previously banned aspartame based on this finding.
Rumsfeld was Searle’s President at the time of the company’s 1985 sale to Monsanto. He promised to “call in his markers” to get aspartame approved – and he did just that.
In 1985, Searle was absorbed by Monsanto (the giant chemical company that’s brought us genetically modified crops containing the pesticide Glyphosate – among other dangerous chemical products like PCB’s, dioxin, and Agent Orange – and now bills itself as a “sustainable agriculture” company).
Rumsfeld served first as CEO and then as President of Searle from 1977 to 1985. During his tenure there, he reduced the number of Searle employees by 60%, thereby creating a large spike in the company’s bottom-line profits. This maneuver earned him two awards as Outstanding CEO in the Pharmaceutical Industry – from TheWall Street Transcript in 1980 and from Financial World Magazine in 1981. He also played an instrumental role in Monsanto’s acquisition of Searle, for which he was rewarded with a large bonus, reportedly $12 mllion.
Aspartame is found in over 6,000 products under brand names such as Equal and NutraSweet. Products containing aspartame include carbonated soft drinks, powdered soft drinks, chewing gum, confections, gelatins, dessert mixes, puddings and fillings, frozen desserts, yogurt, tabletop sweeteners, vitamins, sugar-free cough drops, and some pharmaceuticals.
Currently, aspartame is consumed by over 200 million people around the world. (Calorie Control Council, 2015)
OTHER ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
Say you decide to avoid products containing aspartame and think maybe other artificial sweeteners are the way to go – there are problems with this plan too.
Here’s Dr Mercola on artificial sweeteners:
“For the last 17 years, I’ve warned that artificial sweeteners can wreck your health. Aspartame is among the worst of the bunch, and in general, people who consume aspartame tend to be in poorer health. They also tend to develop more of a sweet tooth.
“I found the evidence against artificial sweeteners to be so compelling, and the hazards so disconcerting, I wrote an entire book on the subject called Sweet Deception, published in 2006. Now, years later, the research I presented in that book has been confirmed many times over, and the tide is finally beginning to turn against this toxic food additive.” (Mercola, 2014)
As Mercola, along with many other respected health authorities, make clear, consuming artificial sweeteners is actually associated with WEIGHT GAIN.
“The connection between sweet taste alone and increased hunger can be found in the medical literature going back at least two decades…. two studies, for example, dating back to the late 80s and early 90s, both showed this link between artificial sweeteners and increased hunger.” (Mercola, 2014)
One of the largest studies of its kind followed nearly 60,000 post-menopausal women for about 10 years. The study found that drinking only two diet drinks a day dramatically increased the participants’ risk of an early death from heart disease. The findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session in Washington, DC in 2014.
“The fact that low- or no-calorie sweeteners do as much harm (or more!) than sugar, on the other hand, has seemed, and still seems, counterintuitive to many.” (Mercola, 2014)
The take away seems to be: To preserve or restore your health, stay away from processed food products.
How about getting a non-GMO stevia plant or seeds to use a leaf or two for sweetening your tea – or make your own organic stevia extract?
YOU NEED TO STAY HYDRATED – SO WHAT’S GOOD TO DRINK?
I certainly don’t have complete answers to this excellent question. This is what I’ve been drinking lately:
KEFIR (organic and full fat if possible) mixed with filtered water
Provides good probiotics because it’s fermented. I’ve even more than once accidentally left a cup of kefir out overnight and found it even tastier (more tang) than the day before. It’s a living food so continues fermenting, producing more probiotics, at room temp. Get the plain (unsweetened) kind. If you don’t like the tartness, add some pureed organic fruits. See KEFIR for more information. Kefir is a living culture so look for it in one of the refrigerated sections at grocery stores, perhaps near the yogurts.
KEVITA mixed with filtered water
Kevita makes these sparkling probiotic drinks in a variety of flavors. All the ones I’ve tried are delicious, almost completely organic, sweetened only with a bit of organic stevia, and vegan. I’m particularly fond of the flavors with coconut in them. See the Kevita site for more information, including stores that carry their drinks. Kevita is also alive so it’s sold from a refrigerated section at grocery stores carrying it.
HARMLESS HARVEST 100% RAW COCONUT WATER – usually mixed with filtered water
Coconut water is better at restoring electrolytes than Gatorade and doesn’t contain any of those nasty FDA approved (GRAS: “generally accepted as safe”) food colors or additives which turn out to be harmful. And raw coconut water tastes the very best. Raw coconut water needs to be kept cold so look for it in a refrigerated section at grocery stores carrying it.
ORGANIC ROOIBOS TEA – brewed at home
Rooibos is caffeine free and naturally sweet tasting. Good with some organic unsweetened almond milk in it.
ORGANIC LICORICE TEA – brewed at home
Also naturally sweet tasting.
PLAIN FILTERED WATER
A few years ago, I had a 3M Aqua Pure water filter installed under my kitchen sink so there’s always tasty filtered water at hand for drinking at home or taking with me. The filtered water is dispensed via a tap with a lever next to the regular taps for the sink. Much easier than lugging bottles of water home from the store and safer for the planet too. These are the filter cartridges the 3M Aqua Pure water filter uses. I change the cartridge twice a year.
The above are what I’ve figured out for me. It would be great if you’d be willing to share info about your own favorite healthy drinks.
Something I’ve noticed since cleaning up my diet is that my craving for sweetened drinks in general has gone way down. Every once in a while I’ll stir a little organic honey into some hot tea and that’s become about it.
MORE ON DIET SNAPPLE
Back to where we started, with Diet Snapple:
Snapple Diet Peach Tea
Smooth Snapple tea, perfect peach flavor. You won’t believe this peach of a tea could have this much taste and still be called diet.
Not listed on the label (because our FDA doesn’t require such labeling) are pesticides since the tea leaves and fruits Snapple uses are made from genetically modified sources. You can be sure they’d put “Non-GMO” or ‘Organic” prominently on the label if they were using healthier ingredients.
And who knows what falls under the umbrella of “natural flavors”?
“From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.” (FDA, 2015)
I learned years ago from my father, who was an enzyme chemist working in research and development in the processed food industry, that ground up cochineal insects are used to make foods red, orange, and pink.
You’re eating cochineal (sometimes called carmine) when you consume commercial brands of raspberry yogurt, maraschino cherries, Starbucks Strawberry Frappuccino, and hundreds of other food products. It’s also used in numerous cosmetics, including lipsticks.
CHOOSING HEALTHIER FOOD PRODUCTS WITH HELP FROM THE EWG
You can check out the nutrition, ingredients, and processing ratings of over 80,000 processed food products on the Food Scores section of the Environmental Working Group’s site. This is their health rating for Snapple Diet Peach Tea. They give it a 5 on their 1-10 rating scale. (EWG, 2015-C)
Lower scores indicate better foods. Product scores take into consideration nutrition, ingredients, and processing concerns. Ingredients are assessed for presence of pesticides, food additives, contaminants, and antibiotics. Since it’s known that whole foods are healthiest, EWG’s ratings help you choose less processed options.
“Nearly two-thirds of the 3,015 produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013 contained pesticide residues – a surprising finding in the face of soaring consumer demand for food without agricultural chemicals.” (EWG, 2015-A)
The EWG has a nifty free Food Scores app you can download to smart phones and iPads. (EWG, 2015-A)
They also have another useful free app for getting ratings of cosmetics and other personal care products:
The EWG’s Skin Deep database rates over 69,000 cosmetics and other personal care products. You can use it to check out the ingredient safety score of known and suspected health and environmental hazards for each product. (EWG, 2015-B)
These EWG mobile apps contain barcode scanners so you can check the EWG’s score for products you’re thinking of buying. Very useful when you’re out shopping – or if you want to check products you’re already using at home. (EWG, 2015-A & 2015-B)
This is a follow up to my last post, Monsanto’s RoundUp “Safe to Drink” – Laugh Out Loud Video (April 2, 2015). If you haven’t been following Monsanto and its role in genetically engineering our food, you may not be aware of the lengths the company has gone to insure it gets its way in genetically engineering our food while doing untold harm to human and animal health along with the health of the soil, water, and air.
This post is a story in images about the ongoing revolving door in place between Monsanto and the US government: including the FDA, USDA & EPA (all agencies that are supposedly looking out for the country’s health and the environment), Congress, the Supreme Court, and even the White House.
Monsanto has essentially bought our government. This mutually beneficial relationship explains why efforts to regulate Monsanto or even enacting mandatory GMO labeling continually get shot down – no matter how many petitions we sign.
Perhaps this sounds like I’m a conspiracy theorist. Check it out before you decide.
SOME EXAMPLES OF HOW MONSANTO OWNS OUR GOVERNMENT – THE REVOLVING DOOR BETWEEN MONSANTO AND THE US GOVERNMENT
“Due to the vested interest that Monsanto has in controlling regulation that affects its business, it has both donated to politicians and promoted the appointment of people who work for them to positions within the American government. As of yet, Monsanto has been successful in keeping its regulatory burdens low and getting its representatives into positions within the US government. The infiltration of regulatory agencies by corporate actors that is referred to here is called the “regulatory revolving door”. Individuals who work for industry go to work for the government, make public regulations, and then return to the private sector after leaving the public service.”
In 2010 Obama appointed Michael Taylor, the previous VP for Public Policy at Monsanto and a current Monsanto lobbyist, to a high level advisory role at the Food and Drug Administration.
In 2009, as Solicitor General, Elena Kagan defended Monsanto’s right to contaminate the environment with its GM alfalfa.
In 2013, as a Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan announced the Court’s unanimous opinion supporting Monsanto’s patent rights on its herbicide resistant genetically altered Roundup Ready seed …
In 2008 Obama appointed Tim Vilsack, former Iowa governor and shill for agribusiness biotech giants like Monsanto, to be the United States Secretary of Agriculture. In early 2009, the US Senate confirmed the nomination by unanimous consent.
In 2010 Obama appointed Islam Siddiqui, lobbyist and then VP of Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife America – a lobbying organization for the pesticide and biotech industries – as Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the US Trade Representative. His government job is to promote the export of American crops. His former jobs were to promote the sale of Monsanto and other pesticides and biotech crops. His government job is to promote the export of American crops, allowing Siddiqui to represent Monsanto’s interests as if they are identical to the interests of the US.
Dr Robert Beachy, an expert in plant virology and biotechnology of plants, carried out research in collaboration with Monsanto Company that led to the development of the world’s first genetically modified food crop. In 2009 Obama appointed him as first director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), whose mission is advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being.
In 2014 Putin Tells Obama: “Stop Monsanto, Or We Will” ….
For good reason, many refer to Monsanto – which began as a toxic chemical company in 1901 and then, a century later, rebranded itself as a “sustainable agriculture” company interested in helping feed the world – as “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”. To read more about Monsanto’s machinations during its devious history of profiting from the manufacture of devastatingly harmful products, see The Complete History of Monsanto, “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”. (Hanzai, 2014)
A few weeks ago the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that glyphosate, the main chemical in Monsanto’s bestselling weed killer Roundup, is linked to cancer in humans. This conclusion was reached by a panel of scientific experts from 11 countries after they had made “a comprehensive review of the latest available scientific evidence”.(International Agency for Research on Cancer – World Health Organization, 2015)
Glyphosate is now used in over 750 different week killers. According to the WHO report, the chemical is also routinely detected in the air, water, the foods we eat and feed to animals.
The prestigious journal Lancet Oncology, reported that glyphosate is linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and lung cancer in humans and there is “convincing evidence” that it can cause cancer in lab animals. (Guyton, 2015)
Yet Monsanto continues to declare Roundup and glyphosate perfectly safe and our government refuses to allow GMO labeling – let alone banning it as many other countries have done.
Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” seeds have been genetically modified to be resistant to their best selling herbicide. Farmers who plant these seeds must then spray their crops with increasing amounts of Roundup to keep other weeds and plants from growing in their fields.
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is 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. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Because this involves the transfer of genes, GMOs are also known as “transgenic” organisms. – Institute for Responsible Technology
The first Roundup Ready genetically modified crops were soybean seeds introduced by Monsanto in 1996. Current Roundup Ready crops include soy, corn, canola, alfalfa, cotton, sorghum, and wheat.
Since Roundup Ready crop seeds are sterile, they have notoriously been referred to as “terminator seeds”. Farmers are unable to reuse the best seed from their current crops as they’ve done for centuries and instead must buy the most recent strain of seed from Monsanto each year. (Delano, 2009)
The prevalence of GMO crops in the US increases yearly. The US Department of Agriculture reports that herbicide tolerant (HT) soybean crops rose from 17% of US soybean acreage in 1997 to 68% in 2001 and 94% in 2014. Plantings of HT cotton increased from 10% in 1997 to 56% in 2001 and 91% in 2014. The adoption of HT corn, which had been slower in previous years, has accelerated, reaching 89% of US corn acreage in 2014. (USDA, 2014)
If you’re eating anything that isn’t organically grown or consuming processed foods, you’re inadvertently consuming a big dose of glyphosate. In 2005, the Grocery Manufacturers of America estimated that 75% of all processed foods in the US contain at least one genetically modified ingredient.
Ten years later, an estimated 80% of GMO crops worldwide are genetically engineered to survive being sprayed with massive levels of Roundup or other glyphosate-containing herbicides. As a result, 75% of the processed food available in the US likely are poisoned with glyphosate. (Food Democracy Now, 2015)
GLYPHOSATE CAN’T BE WASHED OFF PRODUCE
Glyphosate contamination in plants is systemic: Unlike many other agricultural chemical that are sprayed on crops, glyphosate is found in every cell of the plant.
You can’t wash it off no matter what cleaning method you use – and processed food and animal feed manufacturers who use GMO crops also can’t remove it. The glyphosate is INSIDE the plant, not a topical residue ON it.
To make the situation even more dangerous, farmers need to keep increasing the amount of glyphosate they spray on their crops because Roundup-resistant weeds are proliferating. And, in a double whammy, the US Environmental Protection Agency has significantly raised the levels of glyphosate it allows in food. (Mercola, 2014)
WHO’S THE FOOL?
Here’s the promised video!
Since it’s April 1st, this video clip of former Greenpeace member turned GMO lobbyist, Dr Patrick Moore, now one of Monsanto’s fools, is apt. Here he is in a recent interview with French TV station Canal + declaring that drinking glyphosate is so safe that, “you can drink a whole quart of it and it won’t hurt you”. Watch what happens when he’s offered a glass of it.
The Monsanto Chemical Works was founded in 1901 by John Francis Queeny, a former employee of a large wholesale pharmaceutical company. In 1902 the fledgling company sold its first product, an artificial sweetener it called Saccharin, to the Coca Cola Company. Even then, the government knew saccharin was toxic and sued to stop its manufacture – but lost in court. In 1905, Monsanto began to make a profit by selling vanillin and caffeine. In 1906, the US government started regulating and inspecting some food products but Monsanto made itself exempt from regulation by donating to politicians, research facilities, schools, and even the US Dairy Association – a practice it engages in to this day.
Monsanto is now a multi-billion dollar company with branches in 100 countries. It is the main producer of genetically modified crops and seeds in the world.
A sampling from this history to pique your interest:
Monsanto and their partners in crime Archer Daniels Midland, Sodexo and Tyson Foods write and sponsor The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009: HR 875. This criminal “act” gives the corporate factory farms a virtual monopoly to police and control all foods grown anywhere, including one’s own backyard, and provides harsh penalties and jail sentences for those who do not use chemicals and fertilizers. President Obama decided this sounded reasonable and gave his approval.
In recent decades, Monsanto has led an intense campaign of deception to get us to believe that Roundup and glyphosate are perfectly safe. So far, Monsanto has prevailed in the US.
In 2009, a French court ruled that Monsanto was guilty of falsely advertising Roundup as “biodegradable” and “environmentally friendly” and claiming it “left the soil clean”.
All these Monsanto claims are false.
Recent research has shown that glyphosate residues “enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease”.
In Argentina, fertility problems, birth defects, miscarriages,and cancer rates have soared in farming communities where Roundup Ready corn and soybeans are grown. In the Argentine province of Chaco, birth defects quadrupled in the 10 years since GE crops were introduced. And a recent Norwegian study published in Food Technology demonstrated that GMO soy bean plants contain a poor nutritional profile AND high levels of glyphosate, leading the researchers to question both their safety and quality. (Mercola, 2014)
Tell Congress and the EPA to follow the lead of other countries by banning Roundup and getting glyphosate off our plates:
THE 12 MOST HARMFUL MONSANTO PRODUCTS (DeNicola, 2014):
This artificial sweetener provides sweetness without calories. Found widely in drinks, candies, cookies, medicines, gum, fruit spreads, toothpaste and more. Studies have shown that consuming artificially sweetened drinks and foods drive us to eat more. This may be because artificial sweeteners don’t make the body feel full or because the sweetness promotes the desire to keep eating.
Aspartame is another artificial sweetener Monsanto has produced since 1985. Numerous studies have demonstrated its health hazards and it has been banned twice by the FDA – yet it is still legally and widely used in 6,000 products worldwide, including diet sodas, sodas, yogurts, gum, sauces, drink powders, cereals and much more.
Aspartame has been found to greatly increase the risk of fast-paced kidney decline. It has also been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, brain damage (by leaving traces of methanol in the blood), an imbalance in the antioxidant/pro-oxidant status in the brain, brain tumors, and heart-related disease.
Polychlorinated biphenyls are in a family of man-made organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. They were first manufactured in 1929 for use in plastics, cable insulation, caulking, adhesives and oil-based paints until they were banned in 1979 for being carcinogenic and contributing to a number of adverse effects on the human immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems. Although no longer manufactured, they continue to do damage. A 2011 study reported they are still being found in the blood of pregnant women.
Monsanto began manufacturing the synthetic polymer polystyrene in 1941. It is still in production and is widely used in food packaging (styrofoam). Polystyrene is non-biodegradable and comprises the majority of hazardous waste accumulating on our planet. Chronic exposure to it is tied to headache, depression, fatigue, and weakness.
DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was a commonly used pesticide designed to combat malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. DDT has been linked to liver damage, infertility, and nervous system damage. It was banned in 1972 but can take many years to break down and is still being found in soils and waterways. Human exposure to DDT comes through eating contaminated fish and crops or through atmospheric deposition.
Dioxins are a group of chemically-related compounds that are among the most toxic chemicals known to science. Monsanto began promoting the use of chemical pesticides, including dioxins, in agriculture in 1945. The EPA has confirmed dioxins as a cancer hazard. They accumulate in the food chain and are primarily found now in meat and dairy products.
Agent Orange is an herbicide/ defoliant primarily known for its use by the US as a form of chemical warfare during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange caused over 400,000 deaths and 500,000 birth defects in Vietnam. It has caused health problems of some kind in over a million people. Agent Orange was contaminated with dioxin – something that Monsanto apparently knew about when it sold the compound to the US Government for use in that war.
Since a formal clean-up effort didn’t begin until 2012, damages from Agent Orange are still being felt. Some chemicals found in Agent Orange are also found in certain herbicides in use today.
Monsanto purchased a major oil refinery in 1955 and began producing petroleum-based fertilizers to apply to soils and plant tissues. Petroleum-based fertilizers destroy beneficial soil micro-organisms, eventually rendering the soil sterile and therefore fully dependent on external stimulants to produce crops. These fertilizers are used on farms around the world.
Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)
Monsanto developed the genetically modified hormone rBGH to inject into dairy cows to produce more milk. While artificially increasing cows’ milk production, rBGH also raises the animals’ levels of pus, antibiotic residues, and a cancer-accelerating hormone called IGF-1. When consumed by humans, rBGH acts as a cancer accelerator and has been linked to breast, colon and prostate cancer.
Monsanto was a pioneer in genetically modifying organisms and continues to be a major player in the field. The company began its initiatives in the early 1990’s with the claim that GMO’s help “feed the world”.
Genetically modifying organisms is dangerous is so many ways. If you want to read more, here are some articles on the topic recommended by Collective Evolution:
GMOs are prevalent in many crops – most notably corn, sugar beets, potatoes, soybeans, tomatoes, squash, golden rice, salmon and animal feeds.
The US Government has so far resisted all efforts to require the labeling of GMO crops and Monsanto, along with many other large corporations, has successfully poured funds into state efforts to require mandatory GMO labeling.
And it’s not even true that GMO crops are better at “feeding the world”. For example:
Roundup, also known as Glyphosate, is the most widely used herbicide around the world. Monsanto founded its agricultural chemicals division in 1970, with Roundup being its star product.
Glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor and has been demonstrated to be carcinogenic. Endocrine disruptors can cause development disorders, birth defects, and cancerous tumors.
Although banned in many countries outside the US, Roundup is approved and still widely used today to destroy and control weeds. It is now found in our groundwater, soil, streams, tissues, and the air.
Monsanto was even involved in the development of the first nuclear weapons. After acquiring Thomas & Hochwalt Laboratories, Monsanto established a department that played a key role in the Manhattan Project from 1943 to 1945: researching methods for enriching uranium. The Manhattan Project was responsible for producing the atomic bombs the US dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the last days of WWII.
Gluten is a protein composite comprised of gliadin and glutelin, conjoined with starch, in the endosperm of various grass-related grains, such as wheat, barley and rye. Gluten is what makes bread dough elastic, helps it rise and keep it’s shape, and gives it a pleasantly chewy texture. Gluten is also used now in a large numbers foods as a thickener, binder, flavor enhancer and protein supplement.
Along with the obvious sources such as breads, cakes and pasta, you’ll encounter gluten hidden in many processed foods – salad dressings, soups, beer, some chocolates, some licorice, flavored coffees and teas, imitation bacon bits and seafood, sausages, hot dogs, deli meats, sauces, marinades, gravies, seasonings, soy sauce. See Hidden Sources of Gluten: How to recognize gluten that’s not obvious on the label for a fairly comprehensive list.
Gluten is also found in a variety of pharmaceuticals (National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, 2014).
THE ARTICLE THAT WAS THE IMPETUS FOR THIS POST ON GLUTEN
Michael Specter’s article about gluten in TheNew Yorker‘s food issue (11/3/2014) so irritated me I felt compelled to address the misinformation in it. The article is called Against the Grain: Should you go gluten-free? . (Specter, 11/3/2014)
Specter has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998. His writings focus on science and technology as well as global public health. He has also written for The Washington Post and The New York Times.
Looking him up after finishing the article, I was amazed to learn that he was also the author of a book published in 2009 entitled Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives. Despite my hopeful reaction to the word ‘denialism’ in the title, I learned from its review on Amazon that the denial Specter was addressing in this book is Americans’ growing mistrust of science.
So now the focus of this New Yorker article makes sense – he’s a true believer in the gods of modern science, technology and ‘progress’. From the Amazon review of Denialism:
“In the United States a growing series of studies show that dietary supplements and ‘natural’ cures have almost no value, and often cause harm…. And pharmaceutical companies that just forty years ago were perhaps the most visible symbol of our remarkable advance against disease have increasingly been seen as callous corporations propelled solely by avarice and greed…. As Michael Specter sees it, this amounts to a war against progress.”
In the New Yorker article, Specter takes a belittling tone toward the many people who are finding their physicians unable or unwilling to help them track down the root cause of their various ill health symptoms so take over that search themselves.
But does it strike YOU as the least bit odd for people to look elsewhere when they realize they’re not getting adequate advice from their doctors, not being believed when they report noticing correlations between eating X and feeling Y afterwards, or – even worse – being given drugs for what ails them, only to develop other symptoms on top of the ones they already reported?
That was certainly my experience with the allergies I suffered with for 40 years. All my doctors ever offered me were various antihistamines and decongestants – and eventually surgery when my body had become so inflamed polyps were growing inside my sinuses making it difficult to breathe. I had horrible reactions to all the drugs and none of them stopped my allergies. After the second nasal polyp surgery, I told my ENT doc that I wasn’t willing to live like that anymore and was going to find a way to fix my allergies rather than just try to treat their symptoms. He was smart and a really good human being. His response was, “I believe you. Will you let me know when you’ve figured it out?” That conversation took place about 35 years ago and my journey to figure it out led to this website.
BTW, my other experiences over the years trying to get help with my own and my family’s autoimmune and other health problems were pretty much the same as the allergies tale above until I basically stopped seeing MDs and started working with so-called ‘alternative’ health care providers who knew about identifying and correcting underlying causes rather than treating symptoms.
So it makes sense to ME that many people have decided to eliminate gluten from their diets to see if that might help. We know something is wrong and we want help getting better and then staying healthy. If we were getting adequate guidance from our doctors, we wouldn’t be so inclined to look for it elsewhere.
Please note that I am NOT saying physicians are evil or stupid. What I AM saying is that too few of them understand much about nutrition or inflammatory processes in the gut and many of them practice exactly as they were trained, in a medical model focusing on identifying diseases after they’ve developed and then treating symptoms with drugs or surgery while ignoring what’s producing those symptoms – and this is not helping us get or stay well.
This Western Medical approach also costs a bundle of money and causes a lot of unnecessary suffering.
TESTS FOR GLUTEN SENSITIVITY AND ALLERGY
Specter writes, “At present, there are no blood tests, biopsies, genetic markers, or antibodies that can confirm a diagnosis of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.” This claim is incorrect.
CSS has developed the only gut health profile (GHP) that evaluates the GI tract on a genetic, antibody and cellular level. Nowhere else can you test specific genetic predisposition to celiac disease as well as antibody testing and immune system activation to food sensitivities. Understand your genetic based risk of celiac disease
Non celiac reactions to gluten, known as Test for Food Sensivity/intolerance
Determines genetic based risk for celiac disease
One simple blood draw
Comprehensive genetic, antibody, and cellular analysis
Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune condition affecting children and adults. When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. Damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present. Celiac disease affects about 1 in 133 people, or close to 1% of the population. However, few people – some estimates are as few as 5% of the total – know they have the condition.
Test for Food Sensivity, also known as non-celiac Test for Food Sensivity or sometimes gluten intolerance, has been recently recognized as a stand-alone condition by the medical community. Many believe that Test for Food Sensitivity involves a different immune system reaction than celiac disease. A team of researchers, led by Dr. Alessio Fasano, hypothesizes that a person with Test for Food Sensitivity experiences a direct reaction to gluten – i.e., your body views the protein as an invader and fights it with inflammation both inside and outside your digestive tract.
Food sensitivity/intolerance is a non-IgE mediated reaction involving the innate immune system’s response to foods that are otherwise safe. The Alcat Test is considered the, “gold standard” laboratory method for identification of non-IgE mediated reactions to over 400 different foods, chemicals, and other categories of substances. It is a functional response test and captures the final common pathway of many of the pathogenic mechanisms, immunologic, toxic, and pharmacologic, that underlie non-IgE mediated reactions to foods and chemicals.
COMMON SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH GLUTEN INTOLERANCE AND SENSITIVITY (Camp, 2012) (EnteroLab, 2014)
This table from the Wall Street Journal differentiates between gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy and celiac disease.
GLUTEN FREE PROCESSED FOODS
Specter expends some energy attacking the gluten free foods industry. I have to agree with him here. Of course trying to replace gluten-containing foods with a bunch of seemingly familiar gluten-free substitutes isn’t going to improve anyone’s health. As he points out, processed foods loaded with sugar, fats, non-gluten-containing refined carbohydrates and salt are quite just plain unhealthy.
What’s needed is a return to eating real, unprocessed, nutrient-filled, non-GMO foods grown without a load of toxic pesticides.
WHAT COULD IT BE IN GLUTEN THAT’S CAUSING SO MANY PEOPLE TO REACT BADLY TO IT?
Specter poses the reasonable question, “How could gluten, present in a staple food that has sustained humanity for thousands of years, have suddenly become so threatening?” After going through some possible clues to answering his question, he ends up focusing on what he calls “gluten anxiety” and classifies it as a food fad.
He says, “Doctors rarely diagnose non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and many don’t believe that it exists.” He goes on to quote Joseph A. Murray, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and president of the North American Society for the Study of Celiac Disease: “Everyone is trying to figure out what is going on, but nobody in medicine, at least not in my field, thinks this adds up to anything like the number of people who say they feel better when they take gluten out of their diet. It’s hard to put a number on these things, but I would have to say that at least seventy percent of it is hype and desire. There is just nothing obviously related to gluten that is wrong with most of these people.”
Specter also interviewed Peter H. R. Green, MD, Director of The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University and Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University, and Attending Physician at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr Green is recognized as a prominent celiac doctor. Green told Specter, “In the absence of celiac disease, physicians don’t usually tell people they are sensitive to gluten. This is becoming one of the most difficult problems that I face in my daily practice.”
Dr Green then goes on to rail against chiropractors and psychiatrists who suggest giving up gluten to their patients to see if their symptoms reduce.
It seems both Specter and Dr Green are unaware that many chiropractors are highly trained in diagnosing and treating a wide variety of health problems – including digestive issues, allergies and food sensitivities, autoimmune conditions, chronic inflammation, migraines, sinus and respiratory problems, insomnia and other sleep problems, thyroid conditions, elevated cholesterol, fertility problems, PMS, PCOS, and symptoms that are unresolved after repeatedly seeking help from MDs.
Specter and Dr Green also seem oblivious to the existence of research on the connections between the probiotics in our intestinal microbiota and mental health. Here are a few examples, including one specifically about gluten and mental health:
In fact, it’s likely that the future of psychotropic medicine will be diet and microbes like probiotics, not pharmaceuticals. We’re learning that what we eat and the micro-organisms living inside our guts strongly influence both our mental and physical health.
Pharmaceuticals given for problems like depression and anxiety work this way:
Symptom suppression certainly doesn’t address the underlying causes of anything. Correcting imbalances in the gut microbiome does. And also, as anyone who’s ever taken pharmaceuticals knows, they’re sort of poisonous – producing “side effects”. Working to get your gut bacteria and the other micro critters in there to work well addresses your health problems directly and doesn’t involve introducing any poisons.
Stay tuned – there’s some exciting research underway now on the gut microbiome and all that it influences.
Kelly Brogan, MD, is a psychiatrist who has looked extensively at the literature on gluten’s effects on the brain. She points out that gluten produces considerable inflammation in the body. It is well known that chronic inflammation leads to all sorts of autoimmune diseases and other serious problems. Her excellent and informative article This Is Your Gut (and Brain) on Wheat lays out a clear explanation of what happens in the body when it consumes gluten. Specter and Green’s annoying comments about psychiatrists who talk about gluten with their ailing patients aside, I highly recommend taking a look at this short article. (Brogan, 2013)
So back to Specter’s question from the beginning of this section: What could have turned gluten into a widespread, serious health problem in the US in recent years.
Here’s a likely answer: the widespread use of the toxic chemical glyphosate.
Even though wheat is not a genetically modified crop, Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing weed killer, Roundup, is widely used on wheat fields before harvests to ‘dry down’ the wheat and even organic wheat fields are often contaminated with glyphosate from poor farming practices. (Shilhavy, 2014)
In fact, beer brewers are having a problem with glyphosate. A few years ago, when one of my colleagues wanted to get more Abraxis test strips for testing materials for glyphosate residue, he was told that they had a 3 month backlog. He asked, what was causing this? He was told that every load of malt barley coming out of North Dakota has to be tested, because the glyphosate levels were so high that it kills the yeast in the brew mix.
The graph below plots celiac incidence against the use of glyphosate on wheat crops between 1990 and 2010. You can see the two rising in tandem. In fact, the connection between glyphosate and celiac disease correlates to a greater degree than glyphosate usage on either corn or soy, crops which are largely genetically modified to be able to tolerate heavy applications of Roundup.
Celiac Incidence/ Glyphosate Applied to Wheat 1990-2010
Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression. It is a multifactorial disease associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies as well as reproductive issues and increased risk to thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. Here, we propose that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup(®), is the most important causal factor in this epidemic. Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria…. Deficiencies in tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine and selenomethionine associated with celiac disease match glyphosate’s known depletion of these amino acids. Celiac disease patients have an increased risk to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has also been implicated in glyphosate exposure. Reproductive issues associated with celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate. Glyphosate residues in wheat and other crops are likely increasing recently due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to the harvest…. We conclude with a plea to governments to reconsider policies regarding the safety of glyphosate residues in foods.
AND BTW, THERE’S EVIDENCE THAT SIMPLY AVOIDING GLUTEN DOESN’T SUFFICE FOR HEALING CELIAC DISEASE (Reasoner, 2014)
Here’s a shocker that challenges current medical advice for celiacs –
The University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center, one of the US’s leading treatment and research center for Celiac Disease, reports:
“While healing may take up to 2 years for many older adults, new research shows that the small intestines of up to 60% of adults never completely heal, especially when adherence to the diet is less than optimal.”
I have a problem, the doctor figures out what the problem is, and gives me a conventional prescription generally supported by Doctors, researchers, and the FDA.
This prescription is supposed to be relatively safe and effective in accordance with the laws in the United States and most modern countries.
But what if the conventional prescription doesn’t work?
Like people with Celiac Disease that follow a strict gluten-free diet and don’t get better….
Only 8% of Adult Patients Healed on a Gluten-Free Diet…
A 2009 study in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics looked at 465 Celiac Disease patients and found only 8% of adult patients reached “histological normalization” after following a gluten-free diet for 16 months, meaning their gut tissue completely recovered to that of a healthy person. The authors stated:
“Complete normalization of duodenal lesions is exceptionally rare in adult coeliac patients despite adherence to GFD”
These people followed a strict gluten-free diet for 16 months and most didn’t heal their gut. The success rate of the conventional Celiac Disease prescription isn’t working… and the research is exploding the truth.
Another 2010 study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology looked at 381 adults with biopsy-proven Celiac Disease. The authors found small intestine mucosal recovery occurred in only 34% of participants following a gluten-free diet for 2 years. They concluded:
“Mucosal recovery was absent in a substantial portion of adults with CD after treatment with a GFD.”
65% of Gluten-Free Celiacs Still Have a Raging Fire in Their Gut
The same 2009 study in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics of 465 Celiac Disease patients 16 months gluten-free found that 65% still had “persistent intraepithelial lymphocytosis,” a.k.a. inflammation in the gut.
This is highly significant. It is well known that gut inflammation is associated with a huge variety of health issues, including all the autoimmune diseases and cancer. So if celiacs follow their doctors’ advice and only avoid gluten but are still at high risk for chronic gut inflammation, they are definitely not healed and will never achieve good health.
Again from Reasoner’s article:
56% Have Poor Vitamin Status After 10 Years Gluten-Free
A 2002 study in the of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics looked at the vitamin status of 30 adults with Celiac Disease showing “biopsy-proven remission,” after following a gluten-free diet for 8-12 years. They found that 56% had poor vitamin status, suggesting that proper nutrient uptake is not occurring. The authors concluded that:
“It is generally assumed that coeliac patients adhering to a strict gluten-free diet for years will consume a diet that is nutritionally adequate. This is supported by the demonstration of a normal bone mineral density up to 10 years of dietary treatment. Our results may indicate otherwise. We found signs indicative of a poor vitamin status in 56% of treated adult coeliac patients.”
Even after following the conventional Celiac prescription for 10 years, 56% still showed signs of poor nutrient uptake – meaning their digestive system still isn’t working like it’s designed to.
That means after 10 years of being gluten-free, HALF of all Celiacs are likely starving for the critical nutrients required for health and longevity. It’s no wonder we have a 77X increased risk for lymphoma.
The Gluten-Free Diet Doesn’t Fix Leaky Gut
Reasoner discusses the role of gliadin (gluten is comprised of gliadin and glutenin in equal parts) in initiating leaky gut* by increasing the zonulin** protein in celiacs. Zonulin levels do fall in celiacs following a strict gluten free diet – but a gluten free diet doesn’t eliminate leaky gut. Gluten free celiacs continue to have elevated levels of zonulin compared to non-celiacs.
* Leaky Gut Syndromes are clinical disorders associated with increased intestinal permeability. These disorders include inflammatory and infectious bowel diseases, chronic inflammatory arthrititis, cryptogenic skin conditions like acne, psoriasis and dermatitis herpetiformis, many diseases triggered by food allergy or specific food intolerance, including eczema, urticaria, and irritable bowel syndrome, AIDS, chronic fatigue syndromes, chronic hepatitis, chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis and pancreatic carcinoma. (Galland, undated)
** Zonulin is a protein that modulates the permeability of tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract. (Wikipedia, 8/21/14)
I highly recommend looking at Reasoner’s site for information on what, besides avoiding gluten, is necessary to fix Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Dr Galland’s piece on LEAKY GUT SYNDROMES: BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE is a bit technical and was apparently posted in the early 1990s but even if you skip over those parts, you’ll learn a great deal about how to protect or restore your health.
Sign the petition below telling President Obama it’s time to issue an executive order instituting a National Food Policy. What a legacy that would be.
Our food supplies and Big Ag agriculture system are broken and making people, other animals, our waters and the whole environment sick. The Union of Concerned Scientists has repeatedly demonstrated the costs of diet-related disease, the environmental toll of industrial agriculture practices, and the iron grip corporate giants have on information about what we eat.
Government agencies and policies have contributed to this disaster. So far, legislative attempts to improve the situation have been disjointed and frequently made the problems worse.
Recently in The Washington Post, the Union of Concerned Scientists joined prominent food leaders Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, and Olivier de Schutter in a call to President Obama. The editorial urges the President to do something bold and necessary: ISSUE AN EXECUTIVE ORDER ESTABLISHING A NATIONAL FOOD POLICY.
This won’t happen overnight. But right now it can begin—with you, with us acting in large numbers.
The food system and the diet it’s created have caused incalculable damage to the health of our people and our land, water and air. If a foreign power were to do such harm, we’d regard it as a threat to national security, if not an act of war, and the government would formulate a comprehensive plan and marshal resources to combat it. (The administration even named an Ebola czar to respond to a disease that threatens few Americans.) So when hundreds of thousands of annual deaths are preventable — as the deaths from the chronic diseases linked to the modern American way of eating surely are — preventing those needless deaths is a national priority.
A national food policy would do that, by investing resources to guarantee that:
● All Americans have access to healthful food;
● Farm policies are designed to support our public health and environmental objectives;
● Our food supply is free of toxic bacteria, chemicals and drugs;
● Production and marketing of our food are done transparently;
● The food industry pays a fair wage to those it employs;
● Food marketing sets children up for healthful lives by instilling in them a habit of eating real food;
● Animals are treated with compassion and attention to their well-being;
● The food system’s carbon footprint is reduced, and the amount of carbon sequestered on farmland is increased;
● The food system is sufficiently resilient to withstand the effects of climate change.
Only those with a vested interest in the status quo would argue against creating public policies with these goals.
Last week the Environmental Protection Agency announced its final decision to give the go ahead to Dow Chemical Company’s toxic weed killer, Enlist Duo – despite strong warnings from 50 members of Congress, 35 doctors and scientists, and tens of thousands of activists.
Enlist Duo combines Dow’s widely used toxic herbicide 2,4-D and glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s own deadly herbicide, Roundup. This new product will be sprayed on millions of acres of genetically engineered crops across the US. The USDA projects the use of 2,4-D will TRIPLE by 2020. This will expose people, animals, the soil and bodies of water near the sprayed crop fields to EIGHT TIMES more chemicals than they’re exposed to today.
Dow’s 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid is a common systemic herbicide used in the control of broad leaf weeds. It is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world and is the third most commonly used herbicide in North America.(Wikipedia, 9/20/2014). Among these consequences: 2,4-D has been linked to increased risks of Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, suppressed immune function and other serious health problems. (Environmental Working Group, 2014)
Glyphosate is an antibiotic, chelator and endocrine disruptor known to weaken the immune system and cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies as well as birth defects. It also wreaks havoc on the soil microbiome, the health of our water supplies, and the health of the environment in general. (MomsAcrossAmerica, 2014).
The EPA’s unfortunate decision will have dire consequences for public health.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) fought against this recent approval and lost the battle.
Now the EWG is preparing to fight the bigger war – for TOXICS AND CHEMICAL REFORM.
Please give EWG whatever support you can to accomplish this work.
Donate now to EWG’s rapid response team to provide them the resources they need to fight back against Big Ag’s flagrant disregard for the safety of our food supply, human and animal health, and the health of our planet.
The Environmental Working Group is an American environmental organization that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability.
Here’s other work the EWG is engaged in to keep us safe from pesticides: EWG and pesticide safety. (Environmental Working Group, 2014)
Somehow, after all the reading I’ve done about pesticides and other toxic chemicals pronounced safe by the US EPA, I don’t feel very protected by them.
If you wish to read more about the dire consequences of EPA and USDA approved genetically engineered crops and Monsanto’s Roundup, developed as an herbicide to use on the company’s GE crops, here are some other posts on this blog:
You’ve no doubt heard about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) but perhaps not understood why many countries have already banned them and why so many people in the US want foods containing them to be labeled so we can make the choice to avoid eating them.
GMO stands for GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM. GE (GENETICALLY ENGINEERED) and GM (GENETICALLY MODIFIED) are other names for the process of genetically altering foods we eat – and more.
GENETIC ENGINEERING VS HYBRIDIZATION
I want to point out that genetic modification is not at all the same as hybridization, which has been done on crops and food animals for centuries without posing serious damage to the soil, the environment and every living thing. Hybridization is the crossbreeding of two species, either naturally in the wild or intentionally in order to gain the most valuable attributes from each specie – for example, the mating of a male donkey and a female horse produces a mule, several different types of roses are deliberately crossbred to produce hybrid tea roses, the loganberry is a cross between the raspberry and blackberry. Hybridization IS NOT genetic engineering.
In contrast, genetic modification is the process of forcing genes from one species into another entirely unrelated species. Genetic engineering forcefully breaches the naturally occurring barriers between species.
SOME EXAMPLES OF GMOS
(Information from GMO-Awareness.com, 2011-2014):
Corn + DNA from soil bacteria that is naturally immune to RoundUp herbicide + e. coli bacteria + soil bacteria that causes tumors in plants (allowing the plant’s cell walls to be breached) = RoundUp Ready Corn – one of several RoundUp Ready crops engineered by Monsanto. (See A Note About Monsanto below.)
Strawberries and tomatoes injected with fish genes to protect the fruit from freezing
Goats injected with spider genes to produce milk with proteins stronger than Kevlar for use in industrial products
Salmon genetically engineered with a growth hormone that allows them to keep growing beyond their normal size
Dairy cows injected with the GE hormone rBGH (also known as rBST) to increase their milk production
Rice injected with human genes to produce pharmaceuticals
A NOTE ABOUT MONSANTO: GMO’s are the latest in this giant international company’s long list of dubious contributions to the world. Monsanto is also responsible for Agent Orange, PCBs, DDT, Dioxin, Aspartame, Saccharin, rBGH, rBST and Terminator Seeds that grow for only a single season, forcing farmers to buy Monsanto’s GE seeds every year instead of saving seeds from the prior harvest as they did for centuries. In 1997 Monsanto re-branded itself from a “chemical” company to a “bio-agricultural” company. (GMO-Awareness.com, 2011-2014)
The genes injected into GMOs can be derived from bacteria, viruses, insects, humans or other animals so GMOs are also known as transgenic organisms. Since genes operate in complex ways that are still not fully understood, genetic engineering often produces unintended and damaging consequences. (GMO-Awareness.com, 2011-2014)
THE BIG SIX PROMINENT MANUFACTURERS OF GMOS & PESTICIDES
Monsanto, the international genetic engineering giant
Pioneer Hi-Bred International (a DuPont subsidiary
Dow Agrosciences (a subsidiary of Dow Chemical)
BASF (primarily a chemical company but rapidly expanding into biotechnology
Bayer Cropscience (a subsidiary of Bayer)
Countries that grow genetically modified crops, listed by number of acres:
Countries requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods:
According to the USDA’s report for 2013, the percentages of these crops grown in the US which have been genetically modified are:
Quest brand tobacco – 100%
Soybeans – 93%
Corn – 90%
Cotton – 90%
Sugar Beets – 90%
Hawaiian papaya – more than 50%
In addition, the FDA has recently given its approval for these GMO crops:
Alfalfa – widely fed to meat and milk producing animals
Kentucky Bluegrass – even more widely fed to meat and milk producing animals. Kentucky Bluegrass is already an invasive grass in its natural state and will spread even more uncontrollably with genetically engineered resistance to RoundUp (Monsanto’s herbicide).
As of 2014, the FDA is still undecided about whether to grant approval for farmed salmon containing a growth hormone.
And here’s something that should give you pause: The Environmental Protection Agency (FDA) now regulates the RoundUp Ready corn described above (90% of all corn grown in the US) as an insecticide because it has been engineered to produce its own insect killing chemical as it grows!
So when enjoying your buttered popcorn while watching a movie, remember you’re consuming an insecticide — probably coated with a butter-flavored GMO product.
GMO crops spread with a ripple effect, a tsunami really, all through the processed foods we eat — infant formula, breads and other baked goods, tofu, catsup, tomato sauce. GM feed is given to animals who produce milk, meat and eggs — so you’re eating GMOs in your steaks, burgers, fries (potatoes and the oil they’re cooked in), ice cream, cheese, yogurt, mayonnaise, and veggie burgers (whey protein). Even non-food items often contain GMO ingredients: soaps, detergents, cosmetics, shampoo and bubble bath – products whose ingredients get absorbed through the skin, our largest organ.
In 2005, the Grocery Manufacturers of America estimated that 75% of all processed foods in the US contain at least one genetically modified ingredient. The percentage is surely higher now, nine years later.
If you’ve been following any part of the battle in the US to get mandatory GMO labels put on foods and food products containing genetically modified organisms, you already begin to grasp the political complexity of the problem. Around the world, 64 countries already enforce the consumers’ “right to know” laws for genetically modified foods. Some have gone so far as to ban the sale of GMO foods in their borders.
So far, the Food and Drug Administration has resisted GMO labeling in the US. Monsanto and other large companies in the food industry – including the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) – have poured huge sums into influencing the FDA not to label GMO-containing products and into advertising to defeat movements in several states endeavoring to establish mandatory GMO labeling within their borders.
BOYCOTT COCA COLA PRODUCTS TO LET THE COMPANY KNOW YOU DISAPPROVE ITS ONGOING FUNDING TO BLOCK GE LABELING
An email today (5/29/2014) jointly from The Center for Food Safety and The Food Revolution Network asks people to boycott all Coca Cola products:
“In 2013, Coca-Cola secretly funneled more than $1.5 million dollars through the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) in order to block an initiative that would have required the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). …. Now GMO labeling initiatives are developing in 29 states including Oregon and Vermont. We think it’s time for the company to stop fighting our right to know what’s in our food.
“We’re engaging hundreds of thousands of people worldwide to spread the word about Coca-Cola’s secret campaign contributions, and encouraging people to boycott the brands they market as healthier alternatives until they change their ways.”
Coke and the company’s other sodas are made with high fructose corn syrup and sugar. Both sweeteners are derived mostly from GE crops: corn and sugar beets. Even soda consumers trying to cut calories are getting a dose of GMOs: Aspartame, the most widely used artificial sweetener, is created from genetically modified bacteria.
In addition to its soft drinks, Coca Cola produces many drink brands marketed as “healthier alternatives” – Honest Tea, Zico Coconut Water, Odwalla, Vitamin Water, Simply Orange, Fruitopia, Minute Maid, Hi-C, Peace Tea, Naked Juice and Powerade.
You can add your name to the boycott petition here. (Food Revolution Network & Center for Food Safety, 2014)
SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH GMOS?
Genetic engineering involves combining two entirely unrelated species in a lab – species that could never cross breed in nature and thus require complex techniques to forcefully combine their genes into a single organism.
The mega biotech industry claims the FDA has “thoroughly evaluated” GM foods and found them to be safe. THIS CLAIM IS UNTRUE.
In the last 20 years NO studies have been performed in the US to test whether GMO products are safe for human consumption. NO American scientist has determined how much of the toxic herbicides and pesticides that have been genetically engineered into crops remains inside the plants when they’re eventually consumed as food. No long-term testing has been conducted to assess the impacts of these toxic substances on human health, animal health, soil health or the health of the environment as a whole. (GMO-Awareness.com, 2011-2014)
However, research conducted by scientists not on the payroll of the bio-tech companies into the safety of GMO food indicates that GE foods are not fit for consumption.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has reported that animal studies have detected serious health risks associated with GE food. These include: infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation and changes in the GI system and other major organs. The AAEM advised physicians to tell their patients to avoid genetically engineered foods.
About 20 years ago, the FDA allowed GMOs into our food supply without requiring any labeling. Prior to their decision, the FDA’s own scientists had repeatedly warned that GE foods can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects including allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems. These scientists strongly urged long-term safety studies. They were ignored.
In the intervening 20 years, independent scientific research has discovered many deleterious effects from genetically modified foods:
Thousandsof sheep, buffalo, and goats in India diedafter grazing on Bt cotton plants
Mice eating GM corn for the long term hadfewer and smaller babies
More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soydied within three weeks, and were also smaller
Testiclecells of mice and rats on a GM soy diet underwent significant changes
By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters became infertile
Rodents fed GM corn and soy showed negative immune system responses and signs of toxicity
Cooked GM soy contains as much as seven timesthe amount of aknown soy allergen as non-GMO soy
Soon after GM soy was introduced in the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50%
The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showedexcessive cell growth, a condition that may lead to cancer.
Studies showed organ lesions, altered liver and pancreas cells, changed enzyme levels, etc.
Unlike the FDA-required safety evaluations for new pharmaceuticals, no human clinical trials of genetically engineered foods have ever been required.
Independent studies have uncovered a host of toxic effects in humans, plants and soil exposed to glyphosphate – the principal ingredients in Monsanto’s widely-used herbicide RoundUp and the chemical the majority of GMO crops have been genetically engineered to withstand. See GMO-Awareness.com: GMO Risks for more information.
While the GMO industry argues that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp, is minimally toxic to humans and other mammals, the findings of a rigorous study suggest otherwise. Glyphosate residues are found in the principal foods in our Western diet – sugar, corn, soy and wheat. These crops are almost entirely grown from GMO seeds and sprayed with Monsanto’s herbicide RoundUp. From the published abstract of the study: (Samsel & Seneff, 2013)
“… glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. … Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. We explain the documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is the “textbook example” of exogenous semiotic entropy: the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins.”
If you want to know more about the research, watch this informative, easy to understand interview with one of the study’s principal investigators, Stephanie Seneff, PhD, of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The video is called The Health Dangers of Roundup (glyphosate) Herbicide. (Canty, 2013)
A major finding of this research is that glyphosate has profound negative effects on the bacteria making up our gut microbiome – where most of our immune system lives. Glyphosate destroys the beneficial bacteria in our guts, causing an enormous range of diseases.
I highly recommend finding an hour to watch this interview. It will change your understanding of how what you eat affects pretty much everything going on in your body.
The genetic engineering industry has claimed for 20 years that GMOs are the only hope for feeding the ever-increasing population worldwide. They claim that GMOs “increase yield, reduce the need for pesticides, produce drought-fighting plants and contain more nutrients”. Yet they have been unable to produce any convincing evidence that these claims are true … and considerable evidence that they are far from true.
DANGEROUS GMO FEED FOR PIGS – AND THE REST OF US
Most pigs in the US are fed a mixture of genetically engineered soy and corn. Overcoming the many obstacles the industry puts in the way of doing any research on GE foods, a large, high quality research study has demonstrated that this diet produces severe inflammation in the pigs’ stomachs. The pigs’ diet that was tested simulated the diet most Americans consume daily – a variety of genetically engineered foods.
The findings: Compared with pigs fed a non-GMO diet, sows eating a typical diet of GE soy and corn were more than twice as likely to have severe stomach inflammation and male pigs were more than four times as likely to develop severe stomach inflammation.
The independent study was conducted by a respected Australian scientist, Dr Judy Carman. Dr Carman is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Flinders University in South Australia and director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research, where she investigates outbreaks of disease. She also does research on nutritional biochemistry in metabolic regulation in relation to cancer.
The genetic engineering industry goes to enormous lengths to prevent any independent research that might lead to negative information about its products. First off, it has stringent patent laws in place to prevent researchers from obtaining any GMO seeds to study.
“Yes, there are a number of problems for anyone doing research,” Dr Carman notes.“They usually center around getting the money to be able to do the research… But you also need to get the materials to test. In this case, it’s the seeds from the genetically modified (GM) plants… But it’s very difficult to get GM seeds to test.
“If a farmer wants to buy seeds to plant in the field, the farmer has to sign a technology user agreement, which means [he]… is not allowed to do any research on those seeds, and is not allowed to give them to anyone else to do research on either.
“You basically have to find some way around that that’s legal – and we did, but it took us quite some time. Otherwise, you need to go to the industry to ask, ‘Pretty please, can we have some seeds?’ We did that as well. The conditions placed upon us getting those seeds were such that we couldn’t legitimately try and get the seeds from most companies.”
Funding is a major barrier to such research. Most of the agricultural universities – the ones that would conduct these studies – obtain their funding from the very companies that make the seeds so the universities aren’t willing to jeopardize their lucrative relationship with the industry. In Dr Carman’s case, her team was fortunate enough to obtain the funding for its research from the government of Western Australia.
Then there are the personal abuse and attempts at professional discrediting these mega-companies direct at anyone who does manage to obtain seed samples and study them. Many independent scientists have ended up losing their entire careers when they’ve revealed negative findings.
Dr Carman prepared herself for these attacks by electing to forgo receiving any salary for her work. She was also fortunate in that her team was able to obtain funding for their research from the West Australia government. Nonetheless, she has survived six separate attempts to have her removed from her various university positions over the last six years.
MONSANTO-US GOVERNMENT OVERLAP
Much has been written about Monsanto’s control over regulating bodies in the US government. The biotech-agrobusiness mega-giant virtually has in its pocket Congress, the White House, key appointments to the USDA and the FDA, and even a Supreme Court Justices – Clarence Thomas worked as an attorney for Monsanto for four years before being appointed to the Court. This arrangement aids the passage of Monsanto-friendly legislation and protects the company’s GE products from being adequately regulated by the USDA or FDA.
“FDA U. S. Food and Drug Administration: Promoting and Protecting Your Health
“FDA’s Role in Regulating Safety of GE Foods
“Using a science-based approach, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates foods and ingredients made from genetically engineered plants to help ensure that they are safe to eat.
“Since people have been modifying plants for thousands of years through breeding and selection, FDA uses the term “genetically engineered,” or “GE,” to distinguish plants that have been modified using modern biotechnology from those modified through traditional breeding.
“FDA regulates food from GE crops in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is responsible for protecting agriculture from pests and disease, including making sure that all new GE plant varieties pose no pest risk to other plants. EPA regulates pesticides, including those bioengineered into food crops, to make sure that pesticides are safe for human and animal consumption and do not pose unreasonable risks of harm to human health or the environment.” ( FDA, 2014)
THE BOTTOM LINE FOR YOUR OWN HEALTH
Assume foods made with sugar from sugar beets, soy, corn, or any of their derivatives contain GMO ingredients – unless they are certified as organic or are labeled as non-GMO.
I’ve written about GMOs elsewhere on this site. See also:
Much of the information in this post is derived from a useful website called GMO-Awareness.com. I urge you to check out that site – it’s chock full of interesting and useful information about the genetic engineering of our food supply that is adversely affecting our health and the health of the planet with serious long-term consequences.
Samsel, A. & Seneff, S. (2013). Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Entropy – special issue Biosemiotic Entropy: Disorder, Disease, and Mortality, 15:4, 1416-1463. See: http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416