Wreaking Havoc

“…GMOs are genetically altered beings. Now that the clever human mind has been able to learn about DNA and peer into the genetic code, we can splice genetic material from one species into another. In other words, we can take a trait from a pig and put it into tomatoes. … Aren’t we clever? … Folks, GMOs are wreaking havoc in our gene pool and human health. They’ve been linked by some one hundred studies and growing every year to everything from infertility to autism to cancer.” Joel Salatin- The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs

“GMOs combine species or genetic material that would never be created without blasting the DNA with gene cannons. This technology is born out of violence and hubris, and more studies are showing that kind of response in the animals and people who eat GMOs – sassier and more violent.” Joel Salatin – The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs

“Americans fear food. … Why? Because too many of us don’t know anything about it. The official policy of the government food police at the FDA and USDA  is to fear food. Why? Because industrial food is a scary thing. Campylobacter, listeria, salmonella, E. coli, bovine spongiform encephalopathy. This brand-new lexicon that has only come into common use in the last couple of decades. Likewise, I never knew anybody who had food allergies. Now we have gluten problems, leaky gut syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and a runaway obesity epidemic. …” Joel Salatin The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs


…And yet we’re offered these genetically modified organisms daily, classified as “safe”.  I read an article recently that attributed the non-GMO stance to “anti-science fear-mongering.”  I agree with Joel when he says that there is a lot of fear surrounding our food systems today. I wouldn’t say that the non-GMO folks are taking their stance just to manipulate you  using your fears…. Not to disappoint, but we don’t live in a Batman movie… The science is there, and we’re not the ones ignoring it.

The United States has a “fast track” approval process for new GMO food products. What’s more, the government does not use its own experts to make the key determination of whether a GMO food is safe. (Not that they would listen to them if they did.) Instead, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) relies on the biotechnology companies to affirm that each new GMO food they create is “not materially different in any respect relevant to food safety.” The FDA accepts this assurance and informs the company that it has a “…continuing responsibility…” to ensure that the GMO food is safe, wholesome and in full compliance with regulatory requirements. The FDA and USDA, however, fear pastured chickens, raw milk, meat sold directly from farm to consumer, and even vegetables grown in your back yard.

We need to educate ourselves in order to grow confident in making food buying decisions and dissipate the fear around us. So today I’m going to be sharing facts that I’ve found in my research.

A study recently published by the Rodale Institute states that:  “the EPA approved a 20-fold increase in how much glyphosate (Roundup®) residue is allowed in our food in response to escalating concentrations.” Hmmm. Well that IS scary!

Joel mentions lots of health problems that are known to have risen with the popularity of GMOs, as well as ones that have been shown in studies to be linked to GMOs.

My research seconds Joel’s position. One of those health risks is increased food allergies.

“The genetic engineering of food creates two separate and serious health risks involving allergenicity.  The first is that genetic engineering can transfer allergens from foods to which people know they are allergic, to foods that they think are safe.  This risk is not hypothetical. A study by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that when a gene from a Brazil nut was engineered into soybeans, people allergic to nuts had serious reactions to the engineered product.  At least one food, a Pioneer Hi-Bred International soybean, was abandoned because of this problem.  There is another allergy risk associated with GE foods.  These foods could be creating thousands of different and new allergic responses.  Each genetic “cassette” being engineered into foods contains a number of novel proteins (in the form of altered genes, bacteria, viruses, promoters, marker systems, and vectors) which have never been part of the human diet.  Each of these numerous novel proteins could create an allergic response in some consumers.  The FDA was also well aware of this new and potentially massive allergenicity problem.  The agency’s scientists repeatedly warned that genetic engineering could “produce a new protein allergen. Once again the agency’s own scientists urged long-term testing.  However, the FDA again ignored its own scientists.  Because these foods were allowed to be marketed without mandatory testing for this kind of allergenicity, millions of unsuspecting consumers have continuously been exposed to a potentially serious health risk.  This FDA action is especially negligent in that the potential consequences of food allergies can include sudden death, and the most significantly affected population is children.” – http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/311/ge-foods/ge-food-and-your-health#

One “pro-GMO” argument I’ve seen widely expressed is the fact that they are already resistant to so many herbicides, pesticides, etc. , and that these “can’t” or “don’t” transfer into the food that we eat. However, according to centerforfoodsafety.org,

“Another hidden risk of GM foods is that they could make disease-causing bacteria resistant to current antibiotics, resulting in a significant increase in the spread of infections and diseases in the human population.  Virtually all genetically engineered foods contain “antibiotic resistance markers” which help the producers identify whether the new genetic material has actually been transferred into the host food.  FDA’s large-scale introduction of these antibiotic marker genes into the food supply could render important antibiotics useless in fighting human diseases.  For example, a genetically engineered maize plant from Novartis includes an ampicillin-resistance gene.  Ampicillin is a valuable antibiotic used to treat a variety of infections in people and animals. [Ampicillin is a penicillin antibiotic that fights bacteria. Ampicillin is used to treat or prevent many different types of infections such as bladder infections, pneumonia, gonorrhea, meningitis, or infections of the stomach or intestines.]  A number of European countries, including Britain, refused to permit the Novartis Bt corn to be grown, due to health concerns that the ampicillin resistance gene could move from the corn into bacteria in the food chain, making ampicillin far less effective in fighting a wide range of bacterial infections. Again, FDA officials have ignored their own scientists’ concerns over the antibiotic resistance problem.  Meanwhile, the British Medical Association (BMA) addressed this problem in its own study of GM foods.  The BMA’s conclusion was unequivocal: “There should be a ban on the use of antibiotic resistance marker genes in GM food, as the risk to human health from antibiotic resistance developing in microorganisms is one of the major public health threats that will be faced in the 21st century.”

One other health risk associated with GM foods is poor organ and immune system development. Once again, centerforfoodsafety.org tells us that

“The well-respected British medical journal, The Lancet, published an important study conducted by Drs. Arpad Pusztai and Stanley W.B. Ewen under a grant from the Scottish government.  The study examined the effect on rats of the consumption of potatoes genetically engineered to contain the biopesticide Bacillus Thuringiensis (B.t.).  The scientists found that the rats consuming genetically altered potatoes showed significant detrimental effects on organ development, body metabolism, and immune function. The biotechnology industry launched a major attack on Dr. Pusztai and his study.  However, they have as of yet not produced a single study of their own to refute his findings.  Moreover, twenty-two leading scientists recently declared that animal test results linking genetically engineered foods to immuno-suppression are valid.”

Stick with me here…

Along with its approval of GE foods, the FDA in 1993 also approved the use of genetically engineered recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), used to induce dairy cows to produce more milk.  At the time the FDA assured consumers that the milk was safe.  Since then, however, regulatory bodies in both Canada and Europe have rejected the drug, citing numerous animal and human health concerns.  Perhaps of most immediate concern for consumers is that research shows that the levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) are increased in dairy products produced from cows treated with rBGH.  The Canadians and Europeans further found that the FDA had completely failed to consider a study which showed that the increased IGF-1 in rBGH milk could survive digestion and make its way into the intestines and blood streams of consumers.  These findings are significant because numerous studies now demonstrate that IGF-1 is an important factor in the growth of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer.

Genetic engineering can also alter the nutritional value of food.  In 1992, the FDA’s Divisions of Food Chemistry & Technology and Food Contaminants Chemistry examined the problem of nutrient loss in GM foods.  The scientists involved specifically warned the agency that the genetic engineering of foods could result in “undesirable alteration in the level of nutrients” of such foods.  They further noted that these nutritional changes “may escape breeders’ attention unless genetically engineered plants are evaluated specifically for these changes.”  Once again, the FDA ignored findings by their own scientists and never subjected the foods to mandatory government testing of any sort. As Joel puts it, we’re “overfed and undernourished.”

Remember, there is already a lot of fear surrounding our food, but most of the fear comes from uncertainty and lack of information… After WWII, we as a culture separated ourselves from our food production, we became profoundly ignorant, and we began fearing the unknown. Now it’s time to fear the known… And DO SOMETHING about it! Know your food, know your farmer, know what you believe!

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About Hannah Hale

Hannah hails from McComb, Mississippi, where she farmed with her parents and three sisters. Home-schooled all her life, she grew up helping her grandfather on his Black Angus farm and working with her family to raise dairy goats, laying hens, and bees. Her love for animals blossomed through her involvement in 4-H and cattle showing. Hannah discovered Polyface through a lecture by Joel, and while reading his book You Can Farm, she realized that her life-long dream of farming could become a reality. The summer of 2013 saw Hannah a Polyface intern, and she was subsequently chosen to become an apprentice. Now married, Hannah helps her husband as they work as Polyface rental-farm managers. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the Polyface team and learn from the best. In the future, Hannah wants to farm full-time and keep Jesus central in her life.
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2 Responses to Wreaking Havoc

  1. Sarah Green says:

    Great piece! I am sharing it with my vegetable stand customers, friends and family. Thank you!

  2. Noah says:

    This piece lacks citations to most of the claims made. The single source provided was the Center for Food Safety. Upon reading through that article, I found little to substantiate any of the claims. Without evidence, how are we to make the decision that GMO’s are bad? I’d like to see some more facts to substantiate these claims, and I think you owe it to your readers to provide more than just one source. I can provide a source about the motivations of the Center for Food Safety: https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/11-center-for-food-safety/ .