What is really in our food? Do we know? Is it possible to truly know? Are we consuming food at all?! These are not easy questions to answer; it is much easier to ignore them and eat whatever is around, tastes good, and satisfies our hunger. When we’re hungry, worrying about where and how the plate of rice and beans in front of us was grown is often the last thing on our minds. But maybe it should be. Because if we don’t start thinking about it, we can be in a world of hurt- literally, the world could be hurt. And we are on our way to destruction of ours, and the planet’s, health already.
Have you heard of genetically modified foods, or GMOs? I bet you have. And I also bet you have a go-to reaction when you here the term GMO. I don’t care what it is, I want you to wipe all pros and cons, assumptions and stereotypes from your head and read this with an open mind. I think you will find this info new and if not refreshing, at least stimulating, or motivating, to add to your bank of food knowledge.
The primary staple foods in our society are wheat, corn and soybeans. They are in more foods than you might imagine, or maybe you can… the ingredients that can be derived from these three commodities are impressive, if not at all healthful. Here are just a few examples: high fructose corn syrup, natural and artificial flavorings, MSG (monosodium glutamate), lecithins, aspartame, baking powder, caramel coloring, cellulose, maltodextrin, dextrin, dextrose, starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, guar gum, carob… and the list goes on and on.
I have already made mention to the mass production of soybeans and their harmful effects in a previous article. There I note that “Soybeans are the second largest crop produced in the US, second to corn, and 93% of these crops are genetically modified (GM)”. The third largest crop, as you may have already guessed, is wheat. About 80% of corn grown in the US is GM. Genetic modification is changing the genetics of the plant by adding in genes from a different species so that it grows with desirable characteristics. Wheat is currently not genetically modified, however the plants are engineered through various methods of selective breeding to elicit specific traits.
One reason to genetically modify or engineer a plant is make it resistant to pesticides that can then be sprayed on the crop to kill the weeds around it without harming the plant. One of the most popular active pesticide chemicals is called Glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup. Soy, corn and wheat seeds have been bred to resist this chemical. In the past Glyphosate was thought to be nontoxic and it is currently and liberally added to these crops. Recent peer reviewed and published research by Anothony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff has shown that this is not the case and it is indeed harmful.
The purpose of Glyphosate is to inhibit enzymes that cause oxidation (refer to coconut oil article for explanation on oxidation). This is the same reaction as when an apple turns brown when you slice it and it sits on the counter exposed to the open air for too long. When sprayed on a Glyphosate-resistant crop this chemical intoxicates the surrounding weeds, blocking the production of certain amino acids and therefore killing them so they do not affect the growth of the crop. When consumed as a residue in our foods Glyphosate continues to inhibit oxidizing enzymes in us, which means a decreased ability for us to fight off foreign invaders, leaving room for other toxins in our food supply to take advantage. We are left unprotected against them. The result has been shown to be a slowly progressing low-grade inflammation in our bodies. Chronic inflammation leaves you susceptible to a multitude of conditions and diseases.
Stephanie Seneff, who researches and specializes in sulfur reaction in the body, states that Glyphosate causes a “disruption of homeostasis” in the body. It blocks the transport of sulfate in the gut, preventing the production of aromatic amino acids by bacteria present there. This degradation to gut bacteria decreases the health of you rdigestive system by lessening your immune system and your ability to detoxify, and by decreasing the production of vitamins from fibrous material in the large intestines.
Furthermore, Glyphosate has been found to be a carcinogen, meaning it promotes DNA mutation that leads to tumor growth and cancer. It also messes with the endocrine system. The endocrine system is responsible for growth and nerve health. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), autism, dementia, and other neurological and behavior conditions are associated with endocrine system health and therefore are affected by consumption of Glyphosate. Even at low doses, below those that are currently approved for use by the government, affects are seen on endocrine health.
In case you are curious, Glyphosate, or Roundup, is the Monsanto owned pesticide that is used on Monsanto owned and patented genetically modified, or otherwise engineered, soybean, corn and wheat seeds. Around the world, weeds are becoming more and more resistant to Roundup, meaning they do not die from exposure to it, causing a need for higher and higher dosage in order for it to be affective. This means increasingly more Glyphosate on the plants and increased residue on your food.
WHEAT. Here is another example for you. There is a GM wheat variety developed in Australia that is designed to have 2 stranded RNA in order to change the carbohydrate content. The problem with this, according to Jack Hememann from the University of Canterbury, is that these double RNA match genes in the human genome and when consumed have the potential to turn on or off traits within us. Most protein content we consume will be destroyed in the highly acidic environment of the stomach, however these double strands are less likely to be affected and therefore more likely to be absorbed intact into our blood. A large connection has been made between these double RNA and the genes responsible in our body for controlling the storage of excess glucose.
There is no telling what these food modifications could do to us, or what they have done already. If we keep messing with nature it will fight back, and it already has. Glyphosate-resistant weeds have been found so far in 18 countries; wild crops are being contaminated with genetic modification and can never be restored. Our health is compromised. Why risk it? My advice, avoid GMO foods. Don’t know which are GMO? Avoid the staple commodity foods and their derivatives (soybeans, corn and wheat). And, support the push to have GMOs labeled in our food supply. We deserve to know what is in our food and how it will affect us.
Samsel A., Seneff S. Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Entropy 2013, 15(4), 1416-1463.
Roundup, An Herbicide, Could Be Linked To Parkinson’s, Cancer And Other Health Issues, Study Shows http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/25/roundup-herbicide-health-issues-disease_n_3156575.html
Concern over Australian GM Wheat- experts response: http://www.sciencemediacentre.co.nz/2012/09/12/concern-over-australian-gm-wheat-experts-respond/
Ag Web: http://www.agweb.com/
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/biosecurity/education/dualuse-agriculture/2.-agricultural-biotechnology/genetically-engineered-crops.html
GMO compass: http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/gmo/db/
Corn Freedom: http://www.cornfreedom.com/List.php